Health Screenings Worth Taking

Posted by: BeneFIT Corporate Wellness
Date: January 13, 2014

All adults should visit their health care provider from time to time for a routine physical, even if they are healthy. During these visits, your doctor can screen for diseases, assess risk of future medical problems, encourage a healthy lifestyle, update vaccinations, and maintain the provider-patient relationship in case of an illness.

Preventive health screenings play an essential role in your ability to take control of your health and wellness. The goal of screenings is to detect chronic illnesses or diseases at the earliest possible stage to lead to a better health outcome down the road. Your doctor may do some screenings as part of a regular well visit, and discuss others with you. Factors your doctor will consider for you in planning screenings include family history, gender, age, ethnicity, occupation, environment, and personal behavior choices.

The following are examples of typical screenings. Your doctor may have other recommendations based on your unique situation:

Blood Pressure Test. High blood pressure can lead to a number of serious health conditions that can damage your arteries, heart, brain, kidneys, and cause a wide range of problems. Current recommendations are checking blood pressure at least every two years starting at age 18. If you are age 40 and above or your blood pressure is between 120/80 and 130/89, get checked at least once a year. If it’s higher, or you have other risk factors such as diabetes, consult your doctor.

Cervical Cancer Screening. Screening for cervical cancer with a Pap smear is recommended in women age 21 to 65, every three years. For women age 30 to 65 who want to lengthen the screening interval, a Pap smear and human papillomavirus (HPV) test are recommended every five years. If you have additional risk factors, like a family history of certain cancers, your doctor may have different recommendations.

Cholesterol Test. General recommendations for beginning cholesterol testing are age 35 for men and 45 for women. If you have risk factors such as a family history of high cholesterol, are overweight or physically inactive, have diabetes, or eat a high-fat diet, start testing at age 20. These factors increase the risk of developing high cholesterol and heart disease.

Colonoscopy. Once you mark your 50th birthday, it’s time to schedule your first colonoscopy, with the general population following up every 10 years after that. Your doctor may recommend more frequent screenings if you have a personal history of colon cancer or precancerous polyps, have a parent, sibling or child who had colon cancer, carry a gene for a hereditary colon cancer syndrome, or have a history of inflammatory bowel disease.

Diabetes Screening. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends screening for abnormal blood glucose as part of cardiovascular risk assessment in adults aged 40 to 70 years who are overweight or obese.

Mammogram. Guidelines vary, but many recommend women age 40 and up talk to their doctor about when it is best for them to start mammograms. Most experts agree that women should perform self breast exams at least once a month.

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Disclaimer: The information presented is for your general knowledge and does not replace the advice of a physician. All medical inquiries regarding your health should be presented to a physician.