Throughout the pandemic, wearing real pants and getting haircuts weren't the only things we put off. Basic health appointments and yearly exams got rescheduled, and even our routine care that catches things as serious as cancer got put on hold.
In fact, one in five adults in the U.S. reported experiencing delayed care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Of those who reported receiving delayed care, 57% said they experienced negative health consequences. 70% of participants reported experiencing nonfinancial barriers such as difficulty getting an appointment, finding a physician or accessing the clinic or hospital where care would be provided.1
This year, make a commitment and prioritize your health with routine checkups and testing.
Catching Up on Your Routine Health Care
As the pandemic moves into its third year, people have been finding their way back to gathering with family and friends, figuring out ways to safely navigate what's become the new normal. Now is the perfect time to check in with ourselves and the people we care about most and make sure we all are getting caught up on the care we need.
Annual health screenings can be life-saving. They’re the key to prevention, early detection, and ensuring ongoing health issues don't get worse. We can all take this time to focus on staying healthy by revisiting (or discovering) the importance of routine health checks.
If you or someone you know has put routine health care on hold due to the pandemic, here are some things to consider that can help us all get back on track.
Blood Tests and Routine Health Screenings
A simple blood draw can provide you and your doctors with a picture of your overall health. Annual blood work can help establish a baseline necessary for comparing and monitoring your health on an ongoing basis. More specifically, blood tests can help:
- Determine how well your major organs (like kidneys, liver, thyroid and heart) are working
- Indicate risk factors for things like heart disease and diabetes
- Diagnose diseases and conditions including cancer, diabetes, anemia, coronary heart disease (CHD), HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases and vitamin deficiencies
- Assess if and how well medicines, supplements and other health treatments are working
Yearly Physicals and Annual Exams
If you're able to schedule appointments with your doctor, you should catch up on yearly physicals and annual exams as soon as possible. These visits are an excellent starting place for getting a handle on your overall health. They could include your annual blood work, important screenings for things like diabetes, assessing your risk for heart disease, and evaluating thyroid function for women and testosterone level for men.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S. Diabetes can increase the risk of heart disease in both and increase CHD risk in women even further.2 An estimated 12 million women aged 20 years and older have diabetes, and approximately 27 million have prediabetes, putting diabetes screening near the top of the list for maintaining health and longevity.3
Annual blood work for women may also include testing thyroid function, as one in eight women will develop a thyroid problem during her lifetime.4 For men, it might consist of monitoring testosterone because as men age, they experience a slow and continuous decrease in testosterone production. That can lead to hypogonadism, a condition characterized by low testosterone levels that can lead to sexual dysfunction, decreased muscle and bone strength, less energy and low fertility.
Your annual blood work often includes your complete blood count, cholesterol and lipid panel, acomprehensive metabolic panel, and checks for anemia and vitamin deficiencies—an important step toward catching up on your routine health care.
If you don’t have a primary care physician or would prefer to purchase your own test, Labcorp makes it easy. You can access a variety of health tests directly from Labcorp OnDemand, including the same tests ordered by doctors at your annual appointments. All you have to do is purchase the test online, then visit a local Labcorp location to have your specimen (usually a regular blood sample) collected. After the test, your results are securely sent directly to you, and you can choose to share them with your doctor.
See all the tests and health screenings you can purchase online directly from Labcorp OnDemand.
Monitoring Conditions and Treatments
In addition to annual wellness checks, blood tests that monitor specific conditions can also be ordered for you by your doctor or purchased directly from Labcorp online. The same goes for other routine health screenings beyond blood tests, which can be just as crucial to staying healthy, like colorectal cancer screenings.
One of many health care advancements that's gained traction in recent years (even more so due to the pandemic) is the ability to monitor your health from home. At-home testing can be an alternative to in-office routine colorectal cancer screenings for people over 45 who aren't at high risk for colon cancer. While you can get colon health screenings like a colonoscopy from your doctor, you also have the option to purchase a Colorectal Cancer At-Home Test online directly from Labcorp—allowing you to collect the sample at home and send it to the lab, with your results delivered via your secure Labcorp OnDemand account.
You've got Options
Regardless of whether you can make it into a doctor's office or not, there are ways to stay on top of your routine health care. The options covered in this article can help you stay healthy and help put the power of monitoring your health and the health of your loved ones into your own hands. And with nearly 2,000 Labcorp locations across the nation, we're ready and available to help you make way for better health by providing access to those options, along with the information and expertise to help you explore and take advantage of them.
- “How Heart Disease Is Different for Women.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 9 Jan. 2019, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/heart-disease/art-20046167.
- “Women at Risk for Diabetes: Physical Activity, Healthy Eating, and Weight Loss." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pubs/pdf/womenhighriskdiabetes.pdf.
- “Delayed Care with Harmful Health Consequences—Reported Experiences from National Surveys During Coronavirus Disease 2019.” JAMA Health Forum