The Importance of a Complete Physical Exam: Key Tests and Assessments

on April 26th, 2023
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in Health Information and Tips

According to the National Library of Medicine, approximately 45% of Americans, or 133 million people, suffer chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, respiratory disease, arthritis, and obesity.

Unfortunately, many chronic illnesses have dire consequences, such as hospitalization, long-term disability, reduced quality of life, and death. Your body’s exposure to numerous health risks highlights the need to examine your body regularly.

A physical exam is an essential evaluation that doctors use to find a quick snapshot of your health and identify potential problem areas. In addition to issuing a clean bill of health, a doctor can detect health issues before they worsen.

If you want to complete a quick and comprehensive physical exam, consider a local urgent care center that serves patients of different ages and all walks of life.


Vital Signs: The Importance of Blood Pleasure, Heart Rate, and Other Measurements

Vital signs evaluate your body’s basic functions. It’s also a way of assessing your general physical health. As part of the initial medical examination, vital signs give hints to medical practitioners about underlying health conditions and highlight the progress of your recovery.

Here’s why doctors insist on checking your vital signs:

  • Blood Pressure: Blood pressure evaluates the force of blood against the walls of your blood vessels. Any reading above 130/80 mmHg indicates high blood pressure or hypertension. Unfortunately, high blood pressure that persists for a few years can lead to complications such as stroke, heart failure, or hardening of arteries.


  • Temperature: A physician will use a thermometer to assess your body temperature. The normal temperature of a healthy person should range between 36.55 °C to 36.27 ° C or slightly higher. If your temperatures are above 38°C, you have a fever, or hypothermia occurs if it drops below 35°C. Medical conditions that can cause worrying temperature changes include stress, sunburn, dehydration, infections, and hormonal changes.


  • Respiratory Rate: Respiratory rate measures the number of breaths per minute. The normal respiratory rate for an adult is 12 to 18 breaths per minute. Anything below 12 or above 25 breaths per minute indicates an underlying health condition. Health conditions such as asthma, pneumonia, lung disease, or anxiety affect the respiratory rate.


  • Pulse: Pulse rate indicates the number of heartbeats per minute. Health factors that affect the pulse rate include stress, anemia, shock, dehydration, thyroid conditions, and infections.

Medical History: Why Your Past Health is Critical for Your Current Physical Exam

Doctors improve medical care for patients by tracking and evaluating their medical history. In addition, some patients assume that doctors have their records and are fully aware of their medical history. Even so, most physicians hold incomplete records that cannot be relied upon for accurate diagnosis.

Therefore, the doctor will ask you questions to understand your medical history.

Benefits of a medical history for your current physical exam include:

  • Identify risks for hereditary diseases: Medical history can help physicians draw patterns and identify potential risks for heart diseases, diabetes, and certain cancers based on your family’s medical history.


  • Enhance medical care during emergencies: A physician will use the medical history to update your records so that doctors can rely on it to treat you in an emergency.


  • Make an informed diagnosis: Tracking your health information over time gives health providers better insights which in turn helps them make better decisions.

Head-to-Toe Assessment: Key Tests and Assessments to Expect During Your Exam

A doctor uses a physical exam to examine how your body is performing. Based on your health history, the doctor may focus on specific areas. For instance, if your family has a history of heart disease, the doctor may perform additional blood pressure tests, blood tests, and cholesterol screening.

Here are a few tests and assessments to expect during your exam:

  • Medical History: A physician will ask about your lifestyle behaviors like smoking, sexual health, diet, and excessive alcohol use. They will also want to know about your job, medications, relationships, recent surgeries, allergies, and supplements.


  • Vital Signs Check-up: The doctor will administer tests on your vital signs to get a general feel of your health.


  • Observation: The doctor will also gather a few data points on your health by watching and speaking to you. For instance, a physician will review your skin appearance for any signs of a potential condition. They’ll also check other body parts, such as the eyes, chest, or abdomen, for signs that indicate an underlying health problem.


  • Laboratory Tests: The doctor may order a few laboratory tests for a better outlook on your health. There are no standard laboratory tests for a physical exam; however, expect common tests such as complete blood count, urinalysis, and chemistry panel.

Special Considerations: Tests and Assessments that May Be Recommended Based on Your Health History and Risk Factors

Here are a few special consideration tests you can expect:

  • STI Screening: Based on the doctor’s assessment of your sexual health or history, the physician may order STI screening, including HIV and syphilis testing.


  • Blood Sugar Test: A doctor can order a blood sugar test to evaluate if you have diabetes. Before deciding, the doctor assesses risk factors such as family history, overweight, high cholesterol level, or high blood pressure.


  • Dermatological Exam: If a doctor finds a recurring pattern of a possible skin problem, they might send you for a dermatological exam. The results can point to a skin-related problem or another illness in the body.


  • Lung Cancer Screening: The physician may recommend a low-dose CT scan if you’re 55-80 years old and have smoked for a significant period.

Early Detection Saves Lives— Schedule Your Annual Physical Exam Today

A physical exam is an excellent opportunity to take charge of your health. After checking your vitals, a doctor can tell you whether you are at risk of hypertension, heart disease, or other serious health conditions.

Subsequently, a physician can recommend corrective and preventive steps you can use to preserve your health.

Newport Urgent Care and Preventive Medicine has a well-equipped facility with board-certified physicians ready to serve you.

Contact us online or call us at 949.828.0613 to schedule your physical examination.