Doctor and Patient

Routine screenings can identify many common health problems and chronic conditions. Regular screening with your primary care physician (PCP) may help detect more serious health issues at their earliest stages — when they are easier to treat.

Doctors may have their own protocols, but here are some routine screenings you may undergo at your next doctor’s appointment:

Blood Pressure Screening

What it is

A blood pressure screening measures the pressure in your arteries as your heart pumps. This is done by wrapping an inflatable cuff (attached to a dial or digital display) around your upper arm. Your doctor or nurse then places a stethoscope above the elbow and inflates the cuff with a small hand pump. That momentarily stops the blood flow through the artery in your arm. The cuff is then deflated to allow blood to flow again. A stethoscope is used to measure blood flow.

What it tells you

The blood pressure test provides two numbers, explains the American Heart Association. The first (or top) number — systolic blood pressure — tells how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls when your heart beats. The second (or bottom) number — diastolic blood pressure — indicates how much pressure your blood exerts against your artery walls while the heart rests between beats.

Next steps

If you have high blood pressure, your doctor may recommend diet, exercise, or medicine to bring it under control. Proper treatment may help prevent high blood pressure from damaging your heart.

Never Miss a Beat!

Get Healthy Tips Sent to Your Phone!

Message and data rates may apply. Text STOP to opt out and HELP for help. Go to https://pages.upmc.com/terms for privacy and terms.
array(11) { ["id"]=> string(7) "sms-cta" ["type"]=> string(4) "form" ["title"]=> string(36) "Get Healthy Tips Sent to Your Phone!" ["category"]=> string(0) "" ["subcategory"]=> string(0) "" ["keyword"]=> string(6) "HBEATS" ["utm_source"]=> string(0) "" ["utm_medium"]=> string(0) "" ["utm_campaign"]=> string(0) "" ["utm_content"]=> string(0) "" ["utm_term"]=> string(0) "" }

Heart Screening

What it is

Your doctor will listen to your heart with a stethoscope.

What it tells you

Signs of heart disease can include an irregular heartbeat or a heart murmur.

Next steps

If your doctor hears anything suspicious, you may need additional testing — or you may be referred to a specialist for treatment.

Lung Screening

What it is

Your doctor will use a stethoscope to listen to your lungs while directing you to breathe in and out.

What it tells you

Signs of lung or heart issues include crackling or wheezing, a decrease in breathing sounds, or fluid in the lungs.

Next steps

If your doctor hears anything suspicious, you may need additional testing — or you may be referred to a specialist for treatment.

Blood Screening

What it is

Your doctor may order several blood tests to screen for a variety of conditions.

There are two routine blood screenings most patients will receive. The American Heart Association recommends all adults 20 or older have a lipid panel, or cholesterol test, every four to six years. After age 40, your doctor will assess your risk of cardiovascular disease and recommend how often you should get tested.

The American Diabetes Association recommends all adults be tested for type 2 diabetes beginning at age 45, and every three years thereafter.

Be sure to ask what you should do before the blood test. Some tests require you to fast, which means refraining from eating or drinking for a certain amount of time.

What it tells you

The blood test will let your doctor know if you are at risk for developing these conditions. After reviewing the results, your PCP’s office may contact you to discuss the results further.

Next steps

Depending on your gender, age, family history, and risk factors, your doctor may do additional screenings at your checkup. “These screening tests are part of why it’s so important to see your doctor at least once a year. A little preventative medicine can save you a lot of trouble later on,” says Shane Eikenberry, MD, of Greater Pittsburgh Medical Associates-UPMC.

Routine health screenings are an important part of a healthy future. Contact your PCP today to schedule your annual checkup.

About Primary Care

A bond between doctor and patient can be extremely valuable, and that’s what you get with UPMC Primary Care. When you work with a primary care physician (PCP), you develop a lasting relationship. Your doctor will get to know you and your history and can plan your treatments accordingly. Our PCPs offer a variety of services, including preventive care and treatment for both urgent and chronic conditions. We also operate primary care walk-in centers where you can get treatment without an appointment.