Sometimes making checkup appointments and getting blood drawn doesn’t feel all that important. Health screenings get pushed to the next year or worse, are forgotten entirely. However, getting screenings is one the most essential things both men and women can do for their health because even being active every day and eating a balanced meal aren’t enough to know that you are healthy.
Check the lists below to see which screenings at what time you should discuss with your physician so you can be proactive about your health.
• Blood Pressure
• Type-2 Diabetes
• HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections
• Skin Cancer
• Colorectal Cancer
• Lung Cancer
• Prostate Cancer
• Testicular Cancer
• Breast Cancer
• Cervical Cancer
Men and Women
High Blood Pressure
Developing high blood pressure is very common, affecting one in three Americans. Get your blood pressure checked every two years if within the normal range and every year if above normal. (120/80 and 139/89)
The American Heart Association recommends that all adults 20 or older have their cholesterol and other traditional risk factors checked every four to six years. After age 40, your health care provider will also want to use an equation to calculate your 10-year risk of experiencing cardiovascular disease or stroke.
Cholesterol testing should also be done at a couple of points during childhood. Once between ages 9 and 11 (before puberty) and once between ages 17 and 21 (after puberty).
After age 45, adults should get screened every three years. Screenings should be done earlier if you are overweight, have blood pressure 135/80 and up, have high cholesterol or have a family history of diabetes.
One-third of Americans with diabetes are unaware of their condition and diagnosing and treating diabetes can have a profoundly positive impact on your health.
HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
Get tested as long as you are sexually active. Sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, can be present and show no symptoms. If you’ve have unprotected sex, have a new partner or are worried about infection for any other reason, it’s a good idea to get tested.
Don’t be embarrassed - your physicians want to make sure you are healthy.
Check your skin often for irregularly-shaped, dark spots. Play close attention to the face, back and shoulder regions. If you find any concerning marks, make an appointment with a physician. Additionally, have your physician check your skin since it can be hard to easily see your whole body.
Starting at age 45, a fecal blood test can be performed annually. Colonoscopies are performed every 10 years. In 2018, some 140,000 Americans were diagnosed with the disease, and 50,000 died of it. Experts believe that adequate screening could have prevented perhaps 60% of those deaths. (CDC)
Annual screening for lung cancer with a low-dose CT scan in adults ages 55 to 80 years who have a 30 pack-year smoking history (smoked one pack/day for 30 years, two packs/day for 15 years, etc.) and who currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years.
You should get screened for prostate cancer starting at age 55. You should consider getting checked earlier if your brother or father had prostate cancer, if you are African-American and/or are experiencing problematic urinary changes.
All men should have a testicular exam as part of their routine physicals starting at age 15. Talk to your physician if you have a family history of testicular cancer or an undescended testicle. You should also perform self-exams, feeling for hard lumps, smooth bumps or changes in the size or shape of the testes.
Starting at age 50, women should get a mammogram every two years until the age of 74.
A pap test should be performed every three years starting at age 21 until age 65.
Just like your car needs annual maintenance and your house needs yearly inspections, your body needs to be checked too. Make appointments to get screened for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, STIs and any cancers that might be of concern given your age or family history. Taking measures to check in with your health can only benefit you. So, break out the date book and schedule some screenings!
Talk with your physician about any screening questions you may have. Not all screenings are recommended for all individuals. To schedule an appointment with one of our Lovelace Medical Group physicians please call 727.2727.