Health screenings are critical to help you stay healthy and identify risk factors. Screenings help to establish a baseline and open up discussions about your history and habits that help create a stronger relationship with your doctor. Being proactive versus reactive may help prevent further issues down the road. A family history of a specific disease, such as colon cancer, breast cancer, or early onset osteoporosis, makes these screenings particularly important.
Internist Scott Walker, MD shares some recommendations for important health screenings.
Fasting Blood Glucose: With type II diabetes on the rise, this test is crucial for determining your risk for developing this disease. This test measures the amount of glucose or sugar in your blood after a minimum 8 hour fast.
Lipid Profile: This test measures your total cholesterol, LDL also known as low density lipoprotein (or bad cholesterol), HDL also known as high density lipoprotein (or good cholesterol), and triglycerides done via a blood sample. It is recommended that a baseline test be done when an individual enters their 20’s. If results are normal, it is generally recommended that testing be repeated every 5 years or as recommended by your physician.
Blood Pressure: Twenty percent of Americans suffer from hypertension, however many of those afflicted with the condition do not present with any outward symptoms, but may include dizziness, headaches, or visual disturbances.
Thyroid Screening: Although thyroid issues are more common in women than men, according to the American Thyroid Association every person over the age of 35 should be screened. Unfortunately, low thyroid levels can cause symptoms of anxiety, depression, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, and weight change which may be misinterpreted as other ailments.
Colonoscopy: Have your first colonoscopy at age 50 if no family history. If no problems are found and you have no family history, testing can be limited to once every 10 years. Colorectal cancer in Its early stage is more than 90 percent curable.
There are a few other tests that are specific to men or women:
For women Pap smear: If you are 30 or older, also ask your doctor to test for HPV.
For women Mammogram: Starting when you’re age 20, your doctor should manually examine your breasts at your regular checkup. By age 40, you should have a mammogram (an X-ray of the breasts) once a year.
For men: Prostate-specific antigen screening.
Your primary care doctor can provide additional information about screenings, can facilitate the referral process, and can track and review the results.