Q. Do you think an annual physical is really necessary?

Regular health checkups are important. How often you get one depends on your condition.

Let me put it to you this way: How often do you have a mechanic check your new car? How many times do you visit the garage with a car that's cranked over 100,000 miles? If you're over 65, get regular physical exams even when you feel great.

Below are some federal guidelines for people with no diseases.

Age 40-65

Have your blood pressure checked every two years.

Men over age 34 should have their cholesterol checked every five years.

People over the age of 50 should be screened for colorectal cancer. This may involve an annual stool test, flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years, and colonoscopy every 10 years.

A dental exam and cleaning should be scheduled once a year.

After age 40, everyone should get an eye exam every two years.

You should receive a flu vaccine every year after age 50, and a tetanus-diphtheria booster vaccination every 10 years.

A shingles vaccination may be given once after age 60. Ask your doctor if you should get a pneumonia vaccine.

Your height, weight, and body mass index (BMI) should be checked every one to five years.

Most men age 50 or older should discuss screening for prostate cancer. Tests may include the PSA blood test and a digital rectal examination.

Women should have a complete breast exam by a health care provider every year. Women over 40 should have a mammogram done every one to two years.

All postmenopausal women with fractures should have a bone density test. Women under 65 who have risk factors for osteoporosis should be screened. All men ages 50-70 with risk factors for osteoporosis should discuss screening with their doctors.

Women should have a yearly pelvic exam and Pap smear done to check for cervical cancer and other disorders.

Age 65 and older

Men between 65-75 who have ever smoked should have an ultrasound done once to screen for abdominal aortic aneurysms. An aortic aneurysm is a weakened and bulging area in the aorta, the major blood vessel that feeds blood to the body.

Blood pressure should be checked every year.

If your cholesterol level is normal, have it rechecked every three to five years.

One of the following screening tests should be done: a stool test every year, flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years with a stool test, and a colonoscopy every 10 years.

A dental exam and cleaning should be scheduled once a year.

Get an eye exam every two years.

Have your hearing tested every year.

Get a pneumonia vaccination if you have never had one, or if you received one more than 5 years before your turned 65. Get a flu shot every year and a tetanus-diphtheria booster every 10 years. A shingles vaccination may be given once after age 60.

All men should discuss prostate cancer screening with their health care provider.

Your height, weight, and body mass index (BMI) should be checked yearly.

Women should have a complete breast exam by a health care provider every year. Women should have a mammogram done every one to two years depending on risk factors to check for breast cancer.

All women should have a bone-density test to check for osteoporosis, a disorder in which the bones become brittle. All men over age 70 should have a bone density test.

Women should continue having a yearly pelvic exam and Pap smear to check for cervical cancer and other disorders.

The Times News, Inc., and affiliates do not endorse or recommend any medical products, processes, or services or provide medical advice. The views of the author do not necessarily state or reflect those of the TIMES NEWS. The article content is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician, or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.