Monthly Letters to Pulmonary Patients by Thomas L. Petty

Thomas L. Petty, M.D.

Professor of Medicine, 
University of Colorado

Chairman, National Lung Health Education Program (NLHEP)


National Lung Health Education Program
A collaborative project with



HealthOne Center
1850 High Street
Denver, CO 80218
Phone: 303 839 6755
Fax: 303 832 8137

The 100,000 Mile Check-up

January 1999
Second Wind
Lomita, California

Dear Friends,

Manufacturers of several modern cars boast that they can run up to 100,000 miles without a tune-up. Thus, the usual maintenance management intervals have been extended significantly.

What about human beings? How long should we go without a check-up or a tune-up? Here are my thoughts.

Children NEED to have their growth and development milestones carefully evaluated and receive their immunizations so that unnecessary delays in development or childhoods infections can be avoided. Adults NEED to continue a healthy life style of avoidance of all tobacco products, excessive alcohol, and other substance abuses, such as so called "recreational drugs", and poor nutrition. Safe sexual practices will avoid the sexually transmitted diseases which continue to plague our society.

What else NEEDS to be done to insure good health in the future? It turns out that simple tests can avoid most of the dreaded diseases, such as heart attack, many cancers (including lung cancer), stroke, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, (COPD). What tests are NEEDED? Blood pressure, cholesterol measurements, blood tests for diabetes, kidney, and liver disease, and simple office spirometry completes the list for non-symptomatic persons with no family history of a significant disease. These simple tests will identify incipient stages of most common diseases. Abnormal spirometry is predictive of increased risk of heart attack, stroke, lung cancer, and COPD. Abnormal spirometry is also predictive of premature mortality from all causes of death! Insurance companies take notice.

Although some cars don't NEED a check-up for 100,000 miles, we do before our "health odometer" gets more milage on it than the number of our birthdays. So, get your 100,000 mile check-up while you are young and healthy, and stay well to pursue your dreams.

I will be in touch next month.

Your friend,

  Thomas Petty, MD

Last update:
14 March 2002