Knowing the benefits and risks of treatments

Check-up and Screening

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A check-up is a periodic general examination of a person who feels overall healthy. At the same time, it is a preventive screening to detect asymptomatic diseases.

The motivation for a check-up for many people lies in the confirmation of good health. Others, in turn, would like to exclude a serious illness for their own peace of mind.

A check-up includes, in general:
  • Extensive doctor-patient discussion in order to collect medical history

  • Recording and updating of the vaccination status

  • Recording of risk factors and indications for certain diseases

  • Physical examination

  • Lab tests

  • Instrumental examinations

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Further information:

In order to be able to diagnose asymptomatic diseases at an early stage, it is important for the doctor to recognize various risk factors or indications of certain diseases by means of a preventive screening. Doctors differentiate between risk factors that have a disease status and behavioural risk factors.

Disorders that additionally constitute a risk for cardiovascular disease include:

  • High blood pressure (hypertension)

  • Fat metabolism disorders (excessive cholesterol levels)

  • Diabetes (type 2 diabetes)

  • Morbid overweight (obesity)

Behavioural risk factors include:

  • Lack of exercise

  • Overweight

  • Nicotine consumption

  • Drug use

  • Certain diets

  • Sexual activities

Your doctor will also consider the following risk factors for bone fractures due to osteoporosis when choosing the examinations:

  • Age

  • Underweight

  • Lack of exercise

  • Nicotine consumption

Testing for signs of the following diseases is also part of a check-up:

  • Depression
  • Dementia

  • Alcoholism

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For the check-up, there are examinations that make sense in the context of the early detection of diseases, and those that have no use in this context.

To reduce the risk of misdiagnosis, and a subsequent faulty treatment or overtreatment, it is important that your doctor incorporate your personal health needs or circumstances (such as the familial incidence of a disease) in the choice of examinations.

The following examinations are useful as part of a preventive screening:

Examinations to identify risk factors for cardiovascular disease:

  • Blood pressure measurement

  • Determination of body mass index (BMI)

  • Cholesterol measurement

  • Blood glucose testing

  • Screening for an abdominal aortic aneurysm (enlargement of the main artery in the abdomen)

Examinations to detect cancer at an early stage:

  • Cervical cancer: smear, test for human papillomavirus (HPV), HPV vaccine

  • Breast cancer: palpation of the breast, mammography in high risk patients

  • Prostate cancer: rectal examination, determination of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in men with genetically increased risk

  • Black skin cancer (malignant melanoma): skin inspection

  • Colon cancer: stool examination for blood; if necessary, colonoscopy

Further examinations according to the individual risk:

  • Osteoporosis: bone density measurement

  • Glaucoma: ophthalmological examination

The following examinations are not meaningful in the context of a preventive check-up and without suspicion of a specific disease:

  • Regular x-ray of the lungs / chest for smokers
  • Urine tests
  • Resting EKG and stress EKG
  • Pulmonary function test (except to reinforce motivation in smoking cessation)
  • Abdominal ultrasound (except in the event of a known dilatation of the main artery in the abdomen)
  • Determination of tumour markers in the blood

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Further information:

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