A Comprehensive Guide To Health ScreeningsBy Sunway Medical Centre | Dec 21 2022
Regular health screenings play an important role in the overall healthcare ecosystem. They involve a battery of tests to check for chronic diseases, gauge your physical health, and allow doctors to assess your current condition.
Even though you may appear to be completely healthy, you might already be in the early stages of developing certain diseases. Health screenings are designed to identify invisible biological markers of such conditions for early detection, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment. As such, health screenings are conducted very differently as to typical doctor consultations.
If you’re in the doctor’s office and feeling unwell, medical tests specific to the symptoms you are experiencing are usually ordered. Your physician’s goal would be to diagnose the illness you are presenting with, and get you the medication and treatment you require. However health screenings are meant to test for a broad range of different diseases and thus have to cast a wider net.
Health screening packages are usually offered by private medical clinics, hospitals, and polyclinics. For a thorough screening, certified laboratories are usually required to test your blood, urine, and stool. Other procedures like pap smears, X-rays, and ultrasounds are included as well.
Who Needs To Go For Health Screenings And Why?
In truth, most people can go for a health screening at any time. There are numerous benefits to health screenings that can far outweigh the cost. But there are also certain groups that have more to gain from regular screenings.
People Older Than 40
As you get older, the body begins to break down and doesn’t function as well as it used to. Your immune system weakens and statistically, you are more likely to contract chronic illnesses. Bad lifestyle habits and choices also begin to take their toll.
It is generally recommended that people above the age of 40 go for regular full body checkups at least once a year. At that age, many chronic illnesses may still be at an early stage of development and preventive measures can help ensure your golden years are spent in the pink of health.
Family History of Diseases
Many chronic conditions have a genetic component to them. If you have a family member with a certain illness, then there’s a good chance you might develop it later in life. Some heritable diseases include: cancer, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis, and thyroid disorders.
Many of these diseases don’t have visible symptoms until it’s too late and treatment options are more limited and invasive. Health screenings can detect these diseases early and improve your medical outcome.
Significant Risk Factors
If you are obese, have high blood pressure, smoke or drink excessively, then you are more likely to develop a range of different chronic conditions. A health screening can help by quantifying your risk of diseases like atherosclerosis, liver cirrhosis, and cancer by measuring key indicators like the amount of cholesterol in your blood via tests.
Lifestyle counselling will also be provided to help you curb bad habits and develop some better ones to improve your quality of life.
Certain occupations put you at higher risk of developing diseases than others. Pilots and air crew, whose jobs involve travelling at high altitudes from country to country, may be more exposed to radiation than the general population. This increases their risk of developing certain cancers and other diseases.
Firefighters are another at-risk occupation as their training and operations include situations that most regular people rarely encounter. Other occupations that involve coming into contact with potentially hazardous materials may also lead to a higher chance of contracting certain diseases.
Some companies require that new hires undergo a pre employment medical check up before signing employment contracts. Businesses often invest heavily in their employees and want to make sure there are no health issues that could interfere with productivity. It also makes sure that new workers are physically able to handle the work that they will be assigned.
Healthy Individuals Above 21
While getting older increases your risk of developing chronic conditions, it doesn’t mean that younger people are completely safe. There have been cases, albeit rare, of younger people getting cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and other conditions. It’s always good to get a clean bill of health, even if you are not at significant risk.
For people below 30, the recommended frequency of a health screening is around once every 2 years. Above that age, you should look towards going for yearly full body checkups.
Learn more: Why is Regular Health Screening Important?
The Realities Of Health Screening
Misconceptions About Health Screenings
1. You don’t need health screenings when you’re young
Younger people may not have to go for health screenings as often but they can still benefit from them. Blood tests detect early warning signs and can indicate if they are at risk for any other diseases. Lifestyle counselling also helps ensure they develop healthier life habits early on.
2. Health checkups are painful and uncomfortable
Some people generally dislike going to hospital and doctors as they associate these places with pain and discomfort. However, opting for health screening packages in Singapore is nothing like going for a doctor’s exam. All tests are minimally invasive and care is taken to ensure that patients are comfortable and pain-free as much as possible.
3. You don’t need a health screening if you’re feeling healthy
Just because you feel healthy, doesn’t mean you aren’t at risk of chronic illnesses. Many diseases don’t show outward symptoms until they are at a later stage. At that point, chances of a good outcome may be reduced. It is advisable to go for a health screening early and regularly for early detections of illnesses that may become more debilitating later on.
4. My last health checkup was fine. I don’t need another one for a few years.
Health checkups are part of an overall routine to maintain good physical health. Holistic health screening for men and women are designed to detect early diseases and track your key health indicators as you get older.
Benefits of Health Screening
Even as modern medicine advances and many formerly life-threatening diseases are now treatable, doctors still recommend that people go for regular health screenings. This push is largely led by years of scientific study and research that all point to early detection and preventive medicine being superior to curative treatments.
1. Early Detection Of Serious Diseases
Health screenings can test for common yet serious diseases that may not have early outward symptoms. Cancer is a chronic disease that kills millions of people each year and health screening tests are able to check your blood for markers that may indicate that there are cancer cells actively dividing in your body.
Sunway Medical’s health screening packages include tests for several tumour markers including AFP test for liver, CEA test for colon, PSA test for prostate, CA 19-9 for pancreas, and CA-125 for ovaries. These tumour markers are a good indication for whether you have the specific types of cancer and how far they are progressing.
If you do come back with abnormal test results, then Oncologists are able to move to more advanced imaging tests to confirm a cancer diagnosis and begin treatment as soon as possible. For conditions like cancer, early detection is crucial for a good prognosis.
However cancer is not the only serious disease that health screenings are looking out for. Liver function tests are able to check for muscle damage to the liver, hepatitis, or any other issues that are impeding healthy liver function. STD tests in Singapore and hormone profiles are also run to ensure you haven’t caught any life-threatening STDs and your endocrine system is working properly.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition that is mostly associated with painful swelling of joints that can eventually lead to bones eroding and joint deformity. It is caused by your immune system attacking your own body and can even damage other organs.
Medical experts agree that early and aggressive treatment of rheumatoid arthritis is the best way to curb disease progression. To help with early diagnosis of this potentially crippling condition, our health screening packages also include tests for Rheumatoid Arthritis Factor to check if you are at risk of developing the condition.
In the battle against serious life-threatening diseases, early detection plays a large and growing role. Early detection can significantly reduce mortality rates and greatly increase the range of treatment options for doctors. Diseases like cancer are no longer a death sentence like they once were, but early intervention through opting for health screening packages can still improve quality of life and improve rates of remission.
2. Preventive Measure To Stop Diseases From Developing
Chronic conditions develop slowly over time and can range from mild to severe. They can also be managed either through medication, lifestyle changes, or a combination of both, to slow disease progression.
There are two different kinds of diabetes. Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 diabetes is a genetic condition that shows up early in a person’s life and can only be managed through insulin shots to regulate blood sugar levels. It cannot be prevented and there is currently no cure.
However Type 2 diabetes is a condition that develops later in life, is linked to lifestyle factors, and can be managed through medication, exercise, and diet. Type 2 diabetes can potentially be prevented and even sent into remission.
Blood glucose tests are the best way to check if you are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. While a high blood glucose level may not necessarily mean you have diabetes, it probably warrants further testing for a confirmed diagnosis before proceeding with treatment.
Two other health screening procedures that provide similar diagnostic benefits are blood pressure and cholesterol in blood tests. High blood pressure and excessive levels of LDL cholesterol are strongly correlated with the risk of developing cardiac conditions.
High blood pressure puts excessive strain on and overworks the heart muscle which can cause it to thicken over time and eventually fail. Increased blood pressure through the arteries also damage the inner linings of blood vessels and can result in aneurysms and internal bleeding.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance which builds up as plaque on the side of artery walls. This condition is known as atherosclerosis. As these plaque deposits grow, they can begin to block blood flow to crucial parts of your body. Sometimes these deposits can even break off and cause heart attacks or strokes.
Blood pressure and cholesterol tests are a staple of most health screening packages as the diseases they cause can be prevented, if caught early and proper medication regimes are started along with following good lifestyle practices.
The kidney is an important and resilient organ in the body that can fail for multiple reasons. However, early kidney disease has very few noticeable symptoms. Detection at this stage can help stop kidney disease from progressing into kidney failure. A full kidney profile can be done during a health screening that checks your blood and urine for indicators that your kidney is not functioning at 100%.
3. To Accurately Assess Physical Condition And Track Risk Indicators
One benefit of going for regular health screenings is that all the test results and measurements taken are recorded and tracked. This way you and your doctor are able to compare your key physical health indicators as you age.
The most basic measurements which will be taken are your height and weight which can then be used to calculate your BMI. While BMI alone can’t tell you everything about a person’s health status, when combined with other test results it can present a clearer picture of what conditions they may be at risk of developing.
Certain full body checkups also include visual acuity tests. As you get older, your vision might deteriorate and it’s ideal to diagnose it early to see what measures can be taken to correct your eyesight or prevent it from becoming worse.
Bone loss is a natural process that both men and women undergo as they age, although women are more susceptible to conditions like Osteoporosis. While some bone mass loss is to be expected, Bone Mineral Density screens of important areas like your hips and spines lets your physician know if any medical interventions might be necessary to reduce your risk of suffering long term injuries later on.
Medical consultation is an important but sometimes overlooked aspect of health screening packages. Some patients may not be aware to what extent their lifestyle habits might be affecting their physical health. Others may not know what are the changes they might need to make in their lives. Consultations with doctors help provide an authoritative direction that can give many people the push they need to make necessary changes.
What To Expect During Your First Health Screening
It’s important to understand that not all health screenings are made the same. More basic screenings only look for the most obvious signs that something is wrong with your body and only have the staple tests. More comprehensive health screening packages in Singapore run a full gamut of tests and procedures that take an in-depth look at many different body functions.
The procedure for health screenings are quite straightforward. They usually begin with a physical examination by your doctor before you proceed with the other tests. Results from the screening will be available a few days after and another date will be set up for a consultation appointment to go over the results.
What Do You Need to Know Before Going For A Health Screening
Where Can You Get A Health Screening?
The three main places you can get a health screening are polyclinics, public hospitals, and private clinics.
Health screenings in polyclinics are limited to major conditions like hypertension and certain types of cancer. Screenings for diabetes and cholesterol may be conducted for patients if they are exhibiting certain symptoms and are specifically directed to undergo the tests by their doctors. Polyclinics also do not have pre-employment medical check up services.
• Public Hospitals
The main advantage of health screenings at public hospitals is the lower cost. However, this has to be balanced out against the fact that waiting times are likely to be longer at public hospitals and it can be difficult to get appointment dates as there is more demand. Public hospitals also may not have different options for health screening packages which check for a wide range of diseases.
• Private Clinics
Private healthcare providers like Sunway Medical Centre have all the required testing capabilities of hospitals and are catered for patients looking to do regular health screenings.
Sunway Medical Centre also has a range of different health screening packages that can fit your needs and budget. From high blood pressure clinic tests to hormone panels and urine and stool analysis, all our packages comprehensively check for a wide range of possible conditions.
Our patient-centric approach also affords greater flexibility and you may feel free to contact us to talk about our healthcare packages and to reschedule your appointments if necessary. We are more than happy to accommodate your schedule, as long as we have advance notice.
Preparing for Health Screening
Your first source of information regarding preparations for health screening should be your primary care doctor. In general, most health screenings will ask you to fast for at least 8 hours beforehand. This is especially for blood tests and liver or abdomen ultrasounds. You might also be asked to delay your morning medication regime until after blood is drawn.
For women’s health screening, It is not advisable if you are currently on your period as pap smears, stool and urine tests cannot be conducted. Contact us beforehand and we can reschedule your health screening appointment to 5 – 7 days after your last day of menstruation. Ladies going for mammograms should also not wear any deodorant, perfume or cream under their arms and on the chest area.
You should also avoid drinking alcohol the night before and try to get enough sleep. Both of these things may affect your test results. If possible, try to bring any documents you have pertaining to your medical history or any conditions you currently have. Additional information can help our doctors make more informed judgements on your results.
Questions You May Have
1. How do I make an appointment?
Making a health appointment with us is an extremely quick and easy process. Simply visit our appointment page and let us know your name, contact details, and which health screening package you would like to sign up for.
Find out more about our packages:
2. How long will the process take
The entire process can take anywhere from 1-3 hours depending on the health screening package you have chosen.
3. How do I reschedule my appointment?
Please call us at 6911 0699 if you are not able to make it for your appointment. Do contact us in advance so we have enough time to reschedule.
4. What should I wear to a health screening?
Clothing that is light and loose is ideal for health screenings. If you have chosen the treadmill test, you might want to wear appropriate sportswear or bring along an extra set of clothes to change in and out of. Avoid hairspray and makeup as these items might contain chemicals or metal particles that could interfere with scans.
5. What happens after a health screening?
After your full body checkup has concluded you will be allowed to go home. Your test results won’t be ready for at least a few days. Usually within 1-2 days for standard tests and 3-5 days for more extensive ones. You can call or get in touch with us through other means if you have any questions about your health report or if you want to schedule a follow up appointment.
Health screenings are not procedures to avoid or skip. They provide clear and accurate assessments of your health, alert you of possible diseases, and help to save long-term exorbitant medical costs. As times change, preventive medicine is increasingly recognised to be extremely effective and important.
Even if you are young and have no symptoms, health screening tests are still very much recommended by healthcare professionals as they check for hidden indicators. In fact, catching chronic diseases before any symptoms manifest is usually correlated to better medical outcomes.
Painless and safe, full body checkups shouldn’t take more than a few hours and the procedures are all conducted by professionals who will try to minimise discomfort throughout. Regular screenings should be a part of your routine to maintain physical health and rise in importance as you get older.
The watchwords behind the push for more health screenings are early detection and preventive treatments. Preventive medicine can help you avoid procedures for later stage chronic disease which may be invasive, painful, and lower your quality of living. Health screenings catch diseases at early stages where less invasive treatments or lifestyle modifications can stall progression or even reverse the condition.
Sunway Medical has been pushing the boundaries of healthcare since 1999. With our network of medical centres in the region we provide a wide range of high-quality, holistic medical services for patients. Contact us today to set up an appointment with us or let us know if you have any queries.