Screenings Play a Vital Role in Your HealthApril 23, 2021
Primary care physician, Dr. Oosman Tariq, discusses the critical role that health screenings play. While guidelines may change over time, your primary care doctor can ensure you get the necessary screenings at the optimal time based on your age, risk factors, and lifestyle.
The Importance of Seeing a Primary Care Doctor
A lot of times we encounter patients who are a little reluctant to come to the doctor. I would like to stress the importance of visiting a doctor – not just when you are sick, but in order to stay healthy.
We have guidelines emphasizing the risk to the various populations; you don’t have to be sick to come to a doctor. A doctor can actually determine, based on your current physical examination, laboratory tests, and your family history, the risk of certain conditions which you might be predisposed to in the future.
How Screening Guidelines Are Determined
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) is an independent, volunteer group of national experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine that makes recommendations about clinical preventive services such as screening tests, counseling services, and preventive medications.
This task force has created guidelines starting with kids as young as 6 and adults up to 80 years of age. These guidelines basically help us catch patients at earlier stages of diseases or illnesses which might become more difficult to treat later in disease progression.
Young children: screening for obesity in children as young as six years
Teenagers, 12 to 18: screening for depression and obesity
General population, 18 years and over: hypertension
Females over 21:
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Cervical cancer screenings: pap smear for presence of human papillomavirus, or HPV, every 3 years; for females 30 and up, cervical cytology alone every three years; if it is done with HPV screening, then every five years
- Women ages 40 to 44 should have the choice to start annualbreast cancer screening with mammograms (x-rays of the breasts) if they wish to do so.
- Women ages 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year.
- Women 55 and older should switch to mammograms every 2 years, with the option to continue yearly screening.
For females over 65:
- Bone density scan, since low bone densities are associated with increased fractures, a major cause of morbidity and mortality.
For patients 40 to 70 years:
- For those who are obese, screening for diabetes mellitus with behavioral counseling or intervention to control high blood sugar levels.
- Since obesity puts patients at greater risk for heart disease, for those who are overweight, we calculate the atherosclerotic cardiovascular risk and, if greater than a certain number, we add cardiac interventions.
For patients 50+:
- Colonoscopy to screen for colon cancer; if negative, then recommended every 10 years.
- For those with a first degree relative who had colon cancer under the age of 50, Cologuard test for colon cancer can be repeated every year.
- Patients ages 50 to 59 who are at greater cardiovascular risk are advised to start on aspirin therapy.
- Age 65+: abdominal aortic aneurysm screening at least once in their lives.
- Smokers with a smoking history greater than 20 pack years, or who have quit within the last 15 years, are advised to have a low dose CT scan to catch any early lung cancer which can greatly impact morbidity and mortality.
Where to Learn More
Click the link below to learn more about current recommendations. Keep in mind that your individual health and risk factors play a large role in the timing of which health screenings are right for you. Your primary care provider is your partner in care and can guide you.
Schedule a Visit Today
Primary care providers focus on the totality of your health. It is important to schedule regular visits so your primary care doctor can help you stay on track with your screenings and manage your health risk.
Dr. Tariq welcomes new patients to his Plainville practice.
184 East Street, Plainville, CT