Entering middle age presents a whole host of new health challenges for many people. Having a good grasp of your current state of health, and a relationship with a GP who is familiar with your medical history can help you navigate middle age and the future more easily.
45-49-year-old health checks are highly recommended by medical bodies and most GPs. This is a turning point in your life when you have a chance to make the lifestyle changes required to prevent the development of chronic diseases, or at least delay their onset.
Why do you need to get a 45-49-year-old health check?
Between the ages of 45 and 49 years is when, statistically, you have a good chance of showing signs of the development of any chronic diseases that are going to have a significant impact on your health and well-being later in life. At this early stage, your GP may be able to make recommendations that, if adhered to, can help ensure you avoid many of the health problems faced by your peers later in life.
If you haven’t been particularly informed about your health in the past, or if you are unlucky enough to have developed a chronic illness despite all efforts to maintain your health, then this health check is critical. For people who display risk factors for developing chronic disease, a 45-49-year-old health check is even more important. Some risk factors that may lead to the development of chronic illness include:
- Your family history – if others in your family have developed chronic diseases, this may increase your chances of doing so.
- Biomedical factors – if you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or are overweight, your risk of developing a chronic disease may be increased. A health check can help identify these risk factors.
- Your lifestyle – if you are a smoker, are sedentary, drink excessively, or have poor dietary habits, your risks of developing a chronic disease such as diabetes are very likely higher.
If you believe that you fulfill any of the above risk factors, speak to your GP about how you can make changes to prevent them from exacerbating any existing illnesses or causing the development of chronic diseases in the future.
What’s involved in a 45-49-year-old health check?
A 45-49-year-old health check is largely about assessing your risks of developing chronic diseases in future, while also assessing your current state of health and helping you to make better choices. Your doctor will ask a series of questions involving the following factors:
- Whether you smoke, what you smoke, and how often.
- Your diet, whether you’re eating enough fruits and vegetables, and what types of fat you consume.
- How often you drink alcohol and how many alcohol-free days you have per week.
- Your level of physical activity, and how many minutes of moderate to high-intensity activity you perform each day.
- Your mental health and feelings of depression or anxiety.
- Family history of a variety of illnesses, including stroke, heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis.
Your GP will likely carry out some basic physical examinations. You will be weighed and have your body mass index assessed. If you’re found to be overweight, your GP will help you develop a plan to return to a healthy weight. Your blood pressure will be checked, and your doctor will talk to you about your risk of diabetes and heart disease, and how to reduce that risk. Your GP can also advise you about skin checks to detect skin cancer.
You may be required to undergo some tests, such as testing for blood cholesterol, and glucose levels. Your GP can also check that you are up to date for immunisations and screening tests like PAP Smears.
Medicare rebate for the 45-49-year-old health check
You will be eligible for a Medicare rebate for your 45-49-year-old health check if you are at risk of developing a chronic disease. You may also be eligible for a Medicare rebate for further healthcare requirements, particularly if the outcome of your health assessment is further management of chronic diseases.
45-49-year-old health check – important things to know
We highly recommend that all people should have at least one thorough health assessment with a GP during this stage of life. It’s an excellent time to get a good idea of how your health is tracking, and to make simple changes that can have a positive impact on your quality of life.
If you are approaching that age, be aware of SNAP, four areas of health that GPs analyse to get an idea of your overall medical state. SNAP includes:
- Alcohol intake
- Physical activity