So just what you need one more thing on your never ending list of things to do!
What are we talking about; well let’s see would you drive your car without having it serviced? Well why would you wait till you are sick to schedule a yearly check up? Even if you’re feeling healthy the idea is about disease prevention, assessing and knowing your risks, maybe even establishing a relationship with your health care providers before a crisis hits.Women are too busy taking care of everyone’s health and neglecting their own
So what do you need to get checked how often? For many tests and screening there are not official guidelines, so I have put together a list with some recommendations, and my own thoughts.Early screening and health checks can detect and prevent problems before they occur.once in your 30s and 40s scheduling an annual check up seems prudent even if it is just to discuss healthy lifestyles and family medical history that may increase your risk for certain diseases and put together a plan.
The following are the top 10 health checks for women:
1-Pelvic exam or pap test
Screens for cervical cancer and is recommended for anyone over 21 yearly unless your physician advises more or less frequent tests according to your own history.Womens clinics are available for this in many areas if you are not comfortable with your family doctor or would prefer a female physician
Here there is much controversy .In general regular exams are not done till a woman reaches the age of 50.However for women at higher risk(family history of breast cancer) screening may be started earlier however the risks of radiation exposure may outweigh the benefits of screenings beginning at an earlier age. .You need discuss your own risks versus benefits with your physician,.
As an adjunct to mammography I do recommend thermography which is a non invasive procedure that may detect cancer earlier.
It is interesting to note that 50% of women find their own cancers,so although breast exams are no longer officially recommended,get to know your breasts and notice any changes. Ask your physician to examine them yearly if you want as they may be able to feel or see abnormal lumps better due to the number of breast they examine.
Despite women’s fears about cancer, cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women. Women are more likely to die from a heart attack than men. There are 10 x the mortality for cardiovascular disease than breast cancer.
It is easy to monitor your blood pressure in most pharmacies and increased blood pressure increases your risk for stroke and heart attack. At least get it checked yearly by your doctor.Normal numbers are 120 systolic 80 diastolic.
Women may want to get a base line test done in their thirties or earlier if a family member has had a stroke or heart attack at a younger age. Then every 5 years if normal. At age 45 or once in menopause I would recommend a yearly cholesterol test be done.
This is a non invasive test that measures your bone density and calculates your fracture risk.Normally only done in women over 65.However if you are younger and have one major risk(total hysterectomy,1st degree relative with a hip fracture, certain medications i.e.prednisone,anti-convulsants) then you should again get a baseline test done and discuss your bone health. Along with this test I recommend all women look at their other needs for healthy bones like calcium intake and Vitamin D.Vitamin D levels can be measured.
This is very controversial, however many times low thyroid is missed in women and is more prevalent in menopausal women. Ask for TSH free T3 and free T4 at age 35 then every 5 years if normal.
7-Colorectal Cancer Tests
Regular screening for colon cancer, such as colonoscopies, should begin in patients during their late forties to early fifties. Fecal occult blood tests or colonoscopies should begin, for most patients, at age 50 and repeated as needed. Patients with known risk factors should follow their healthcare provider’s advice for when to start having this test.
Early diagnosis of colon cancer significantly increases the five-year survival rate from this disease to more than 90%.
Adults age 18 and older should have eye examinations every one or two years until age 61,then yearly. Eye exams can detect visual changes and early detection of glaucoma and cataracts.
At least annually have a skin check for moles and pre cancerous growths. Report any suspicious looking growth or any sore that doesn’t heal within four weeks. Monthly self examination can detect skin cancer in its earliest stages when it is most treatable. Maybe schedule one with your partner.
10-Weight and waist circumference.
Increasing body weight is a risk for diabetes heart disease high blood pressure and cancers. As we age our body fat increases ,we are less active and need to eat less due to our decreasing metabolism. Weight creeps up on you so keep a regular check on it.A large percentage of women do not get sufficient exercise, do not eat the recommended servings of fruit or vegetables.Ketchup doesn’t count!Eat green every day.
So do yourself a favour schedule your check ups,in your Blackberry,on your Smart phone app.Whatever it takes,it could save your life.