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    Make an annual wellness check part of your New Year’s resolutions

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Every year, countless people make resolutions to focus on health and wellness. Eating better, getting more sleep and exercising are usually at the top of the list. But one area that is often overlooked is preventive health screenings.

Dr. Tina Ardon, a Mayo Clinic family medicine physician, says it's important to schedule an annual physical to maintain overall health and address any concerns.

"When it comes to staying healthy, it is important to check in with your provider annually to review vaccinations, cancer screenings and cardiovascular health," says Dr. Ardon.

Journalists: Broadcast-quality sound bites with Dr. Tina Ardon are in the downloads at the end of the post. Please "Courtesy: Mayo Clinic News Network."

Though not every patient will require them, various vaccines might be reviewed at an annual visit, including vaccines for tetanus, shingles, pneumonia and HPV.

"It's also important to have a dialogue with your provider about your family history with cancer and other medical issues, so we can make decisions about screening. Sometimes we will look to screen patients earlier than the typical guidelines based on their family history."

At a minimum, Dr. Ardon says patients should have routine bloodwork to check cholesterol and blood glucose levels, as well as monitor blood pressure, which can be a warning sign for heart attack and stroke.

Depending on age and gender, there may be additional tests. For men, a PSA blood test might be warranted, says Dr. Ardon; whereas, women may need a pelvic exam, Pap smear for cervical cancer or a mammogram.

Also, a conversation about sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, chlamydia or hepatitis C, may be important, Dr. Ardon says.

Annual physicals are also a great time to talk wtih your doctor about wellness goals. "This may include talking about ways to reduce stress, anxiety and make other lifestyle adjustments like eating healthier or adding more exercise," she says.

"Many people think they don't need to see a provider unless they're sick. But I think an annual physical is the best prescription for long-term health and wellness."