7 Essential Health Tests for WomenHealth Hub
Women, rejoice! You routinely live healthier and longer lives than men – thanks to certain biological and social factors – but also because you may be more in tune with your bodies and more likely to visit the doctor when things don’t feel quite right.
So stay in tune and ensure that you are up to date with all the necessary medical tests to keep you in tip-top shape:
The American Cancer Society recommends annual screening mammograms for women starting at age 40 and continuing as long as they are in good health. Your physician may want you to get screened at a younger age if you have a mother or sister with breast cancer.
There are researchers and other officials out there who recommend mammograms less often – so be sure to talk to your doctor about options.
There are several different kinds of mammograms: A screening mammogram looks for signs in women who don’t have any problems, and a diagnosis mammogram checks the breast if there have been changes or problems detected, according to the American Cancer Society.
Mammograms can be digital or 3D depending on what the doctor is looking for. These images can reveal any potential tumors or abnormalities.
The Pap test checks for changes that may show a risk for cervical cancer. Current cervical cancer screening guidelines recommend:
- Women ages 21 to 29 should be screened once every 3 years with a Pap test
- Women ages 30 to 65 should be screened with either a Pap test every 3 years or a Pap test and HPV test every 5 years, assuming the HPV test is negative. Cancer experts are considering whether HPV testing guidelines should be changed.
- Women age 65 and older no longer need Pap tests as long as they have had consecutive screenings with normal results over the last 10 years. Women who have been diagnosed with pre-cancer should continue to receive regular screenings.
Do you know that heart disease is still the leading cause of death for women?
That means you should get your cholesterol checked regularly starting at age 45. Do you smoke? Does heart disease run in your family? Many officials recommend getting your cholesterol checked at age 20 in those cases. The test is normally done once every five years.
The Centers for Disease Control says nearly 33 percent of women have hypertension, so get your blood pressure checked at least once a year! Blood pressure checks are routine these days with nearly every doctor office visit.
Body Mass Index
Body Mass Index is a number that can tell you how healthy you are based on your height and weight. The ACS says your BMI should be within the 18.5 to 24.9 range. Anything over that is overweight or obese, which can put you at risk for all kinds of health problems. You can easily find a BMI calculator online, or your doctor can check it for you at an annual exam.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Get a colonoscopy every 10 years starting at age 50 if you are at a low risk. High risk patients with a family history of cancer, those who smoke, and those who lead a sedentary lifestyle may have to be screened starting at age 40.
Bone Density Screening
Our bones change and weaken as we get older, and women are far more likely than men to get osteoporosis. Of the estimated 10 million Americans with the condition, about 80 percent are women, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. So women have to make sure to get a bone density screening.
The test is pretty easy: An X-ray scan passing over your spine, hip, wrist, fingers, leg, or heel can detect your risk for fractures. Tests usually start once you reach age 65. Researchers suggest that women in the 50-64 range who weigh less than 150 pounds may need bone density tests as well.
Other Important Tests:
Depression: Have you felt “down” for more than a week or two? It could be something more than just a bad mood. A doctor can properly diagnose you with a specific mood disorder and give you tools and medications to help.
Blood Glucose: Get checked for diabetes once every three years.
Dental and eye exams: Experts recommend seeing the dentist at least once a year and more if you’ve had any issues with gum disease or cavities. Remember, more research suggests that gum disease can put you at a higher risk for heart disease. Experts recommend you get an eye exam once every two years up to age 60. After that it’s once a year.
For appointments with a Women's Health Provider call 239-481-4111. For screenings and other imaging services call 239-343-1999.
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