A Little Prevention Goes a Long Way

Check up on your health

Don’t let illness sneak up on you. Paying attention to your health, even when you feel fine, can make staying well easier in the long term.

Regular screening tests and checkups with a doctor are good ways to take control of your health. These exams can make it easier to spot problems early, when treatment is often more effective. They might even prevent a problem from developing in the first place.


Before your checkup, you should review your family medical history. Your doctor will want to know if close relatives had health conditions such as heart trouble, stroke, diabetes or cancer.

Also, tell your doctor about any changes in your own health. That includes new lumps; skin changes; pain; dizziness; sleep problems; and changes in eating, bowel or urinary habits.

Your doctor can then recommend which preventive health services and screenings you should have and when you should have them.


Which screenings are for you?

Some of the screenings that your doctor might recommend could include tests for:

  • Cholesterol. Starting at age 20, all adults should have their cholesterol tested every five years. High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease.
  • Blood pressure. Have this checked at least once every two years. High blood pressure increases risks of heart and kidney disease and stroke.
  • Diabetes. If your blood pressure is higher than 135/80 or you take medicine for high blood pressure, you should get screened for diabetes.
  • Colorectal cancer. Most adults should have their first exam at age 50. Ask your doctor which of several available tests are right for you.

Women should also consider screening tests for breast cancer, cervical cancer and osteoporosis. Ask your doctor whether a mammogram is right for you based on age, family history, general health and personal concerns. Your age and health history determine how often you should have a Pap test. A bone density scan should be done at least once beginning at age 65.

Men should talk to their doctor about the risks and benefits of prostate cancer screening. Also, men who are between ages 65 and 75 and who have ever been smokers should ask about screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm.


Speak to the experts

To find out which screenings are recommended for you, make an appointment to see your doctor.


Sources: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; American Heart Association

Related Reading

Stacy Madden