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Getting Your Health Care Routine Back on Track

Andrew Gilmartin, MD

By: Andrew Gilmartin

If you have been avoiding the doctor’s office during the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, now is the time to get your medical care back on track. This includes scheduling your annual wellness visit and any recommended health screenings.

There is no better way to stay healthy than following a healthy lifestyle that includes seeing your primary care provider regularly. If you have put off seeing your primary care provider, now is the perfect time to make an appointment.

Why You Should Schedule Your Routine Annual Visit and Screenings

When you skip or postpone health screenings, you may delay detecting disease.  Medical tests are not just for diagnosing disorders once symptoms appear—they are also routinely used as an important aspect of preventive health care. People who see their doctor regularly and have routine screenings are more likely to receive an early diagnosis if they develop a medical condition, and this contributes to better outcomes and a longer lifespan.

Routine screenings allow physicians to compare test results over time, increasing the chances that a potential problem can be prevented through interventions like medications or lifestyle changes. For most adults, depending on age, doctors will recommend a screening schedule that includes regular physical exams, body mass index (BMI), mammograms, pap tests, skin checks, cholesterol and blood pressure screening, eye exams, immunizations and screening for sexually transmitted diseases.

The type of routine screenings you may need changes as you age and will depend on your personal and family medical history, as well as whether you have risk factors for certain diseases. For example, most young adults do not need a regular colonoscopy, but if there is a family history of polyps or colon cancer, doctors may recommend that test become a regular part of your health care. Having a family history may also make you a good candidate for genetic testing, which can identify whether you are at high risk for developing certain diseases.

While many routine screenings are important no matter who you are, there are additional tests specific to men’s health (like PSA screenings for prostate cancer) or women’s health (mammograms or pap smears) that should also become a regular part of preventive health care. Talk to your doctor about what tests are right for you.

Below is a List of Tests You Should Not Skip:


Pediatric checkups and well child visits: Keeping your children healthy and up-to-date on their vaccines is essential. Work with your pediatrician or care center to make sure your kids do not miss these important in-person visits.


Pap tests: With or without human papillomavirus (HPV) screening: These tests can detect certain cancers of the cervix, as well as viral conditions that put women at higher risk for cervical cancer. If your recent pap tests were normal, you should have a pap test every three to five years. However, if you have a history of abnormal Pap tests, you may need to have them more frequently.

Mammograms: A yearly mammogram (or more or less frequent, as your doctor recommends) is an essential step in early detection of breast cancer.

Bone mineral density tests: As women get older, thinning bones can increase the risk of fractures. This test assesses your risk and helps your doctor decide if you need calcium supplements or other treatment for bone mineral loss.


Prostate cancer screening: Men should follow their doctor’s instructions on getting tested for prostate cancer regularly.

Women and Men

Colonoscopy: Women and men should get colonoscopies starting at age 45, according to recently updated recommendations. Colonoscopies can spot colon cancer, which when treated early, can be managed effectively.

Tests for heart and vascular health: For heart health, adults should keep track of their blood pressure and body mass index (BMI).

You should follow your doctor’s guidance on getting regular blood tests for factors relevant to heart disease risk, such as:

  • Blood sugar
  • Cholesterol
  • Coronary artery calcium
  • C-reactive protein
  • Other factors as your doctor suggests

Maintaining Your Health

With so much attention focused on COVID-19, it is easy to forget about other health issues such as cancer or heart disease, but these threats are still around. The good news is that with screening, in many cases, you can prevent them or catch problems early so that treatment is more effective.

Preventive measures such as mammograms, pap tests, colonoscopies and other tests and screenings are essential to good health. And, just as important: If you are experiencing any symptoms or signs of illness, do not wait. Call us or your health care provider and let us help.

Your primary care provider is a partner with you in the management of your daily health and the prevention of disease. We are here for you and are eager to help you live the healthiest life possible. There is no reason to delay your health care, our team has taken a number of steps to put your health first when you come in for a visit.

Dr. Andrew Gilmartin is a founding partner, Board-Certified Internal Medicine Physician at Changebridge Medical Associates, a member of Consensus Health, In Montville, and has been dedicated to serving the local community for the last 10 years