by Ryan Baker, MD, FAAFP

‘Tis the season for questionable health choices. Between travel, houseguests, parties, and potlucks we tend to put good health on the back burner this time of year. Those poor health choices can lead to anxiety, stress, weight gain, illness, injury, and even trips to the emergency room.

Most folks put their medical appointments on hold this time of year, saying they’ll get to it after the New Year. But now is actually the perfect time to check in with your primary-care provider, especially if you’ve been putting it off. An Annual Wellness Exam is covered by most insurance and is designed for you and your doctor to plan all your preventive health measures for the coming year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the top five causes of death – heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, stroke, and unintentional injuries – are all preventable. As a doctor, it’s hard to see a patient sick or hospitalized from something that was preventable.


Preventive care can drastically increase your lifespan because it allows you to catch things early and treat them more easily. According to the CDC, if everyone in the United States received the recommended clinical preventive care, we could save more than 100,000 lives each year. They say for every 100 people you treat for high blood pressure, you prevent one heart attack. I like those odds.

My top preventive recommendations are:

  • Flu and pneumonia vaccines
  • COVID-19 vaccination or booster
  • All your regular cancer screenings
  • Labs (cholesterol, blood sugar, lipids, PSA)
  • Have your blood pressure checked

Preventive medicine is really the most efficient use of your healthcare resources. So, put prevention at the top of your to-do list, and give yourself the gift of good health this holiday season.


Millennium Physician Group

Dr. Ryan Baker

2299 9th Avenue N, Suite 1A

St. Petersburg, FL 33713


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