Q&A Topic: Health Benefits of an Annual Physical, with Dr. James Fierro
Dr. James Fierro
What is the importance of an annual physical?
Annual physicals and the preventative screening tests that are recommended are often debated in the news; however, the benefit is definitely in the patient’s best interest. People are living longer, and the prospects of extending those years even longer can only be accomplished by preventive medicine.
Physical examinations are your best defense to decrease the development of disease, and the early detection of illness is your best chance to treat it and hopefully cure it. Feeling well does not always mean you are well—many problems can only be detected by physical examinations and recommended testing. When many illnesses cause symptoms, it may be too late to expect a cure.
Most insurance companies pay for yearly wellness physicals with no required co-pays or deductibles. Contact your insurance provider for further information.
Why is it important to know your LDL number?
Everyone wants to know his or her total cholesterol, however the low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (also called “bad” cholesterol) is the more important number. Your LDL cholesterol is a better predictor of developing coronary artery disease. Your LDL should be less than 100. Your LDL number is only obtained by a blood test.
Why should I have my blood pressure checked?
Your blood pressure is the most important measurement to predict future health problems. High blood pressure is the number one cause of heart attacks. It can lead to congestive heart failure, kidney damage and stroke. Have your doctor check your blood pressure. There is an acceptable range, which should be monitored by a health care professional. 120 over 80 are the numbers most people recognize. What these numbers mean and how they are determined is a lecture in itself. See your doctor for an explanation.
What is a healthy blood sugar level?
Your blood sugar should be less than 100. Many people have blood sugars above 100 and are not considered diabetic but they are running a risk of developing diabetes. Diet, exercise and checking with your doctor helps you monitor and manage your blood sugar. If medication is necessary, you should not be resistant to start it under your doctor’s supervision.
Is good care a team effort?
YES! Your doctor and his or her staff are there to help you. They provide information that you are paying for. You should feel comfortable enough to ask questions and have confidence in their advice, recommendations and treatment. You should be able to ask for second opinions and referrals to recommended experts. If you do not feel comfortable that your health is important to them, you should change medical practices. But, this is only one part of the team approach to good care.
Your responsibility as part of the team should be to show up for your appointments, go for necessary testing, take medication as prescribed and follow instructions as given. Again, you come here electively and you are paying for these services. If there are reasons why you are not following recommendations and instructions, you should be honest and bring them to your doctor’s and their staff’s attention. They will be helpful in solving your questions so you will get the most out of your time, money and care.
Board-certified in family medicine, Dr. Fierro has been in practice since 1991. He is on staff with Christiana Care and St. Francis Hospital and a Clinical Associate Professor for Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine. He is a member of the Medical Society of Delaware, the New Castle County Medical Society, AOA (American Osteopathic Association), AMA (American Medical Association) and AAOFP (American Academy of Osteopathic Family Physicians). He is a Delaware Today Top Doctor winner and a Delaware native.
Dr. James Fierro
1805 Foulk Road, Suite F
Wilmington, DE 19810