When Should You Get Screened?
Taking a preventive approach to managing your health can be beneficial for a number of reasons. Not only will you avoid getting sick when you see the doctor for screenings and checkups, but you can also minimize your healthcare expenses for years to come. Keep reading to get a closer look at your screening needs and recommended vaccines depending on your age.
Important Screenings at Any Age
One of the most important areas to consider with health screenings is your heart health. With the right exams, you can reduce your risk for coronary artery disease, which is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Heart health screenings can also reveal a risk for other conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, and stroke. Below, you can see the most important screenings for all adults, beginning at age 20.
- Blood pressure – Your physician will check your blood pressure during every visit, but you might also track your blood pressure at home if you’ve had readings over 120/80 mm Hg. While one high blood pressure reading may be a fluke, consistently high numbers can indicate an ongoing problem. It is also important to note that high blood pressure often presents no noticeable symptoms until damage takes place in other areas of the body, so screening is essential.
- Waist circumference – Obesity has become one of the biggest health concerns in the nation, but your weight on its own is not the only factor to consider with your health. If you have a BMI greater than 25, your physician might measure your waist circumference, which will be more telling of your health risks than your weight alone. Carrying most of your weight in your midsection puts you at a much higher risk for heart disease, diabetes, and liver disease than carrying weight in your hips and thighs.
- Blood glucose – The American Heart Association recommends blood glucose tests every 3 years for adults over the age of 45, but screenings might begin much sooner if you have other risk factors such as obesity, high cholesterol, or a family history of type 2 diabetes.
Screenings for Older Adults
Once you get older, you may have even more screenings to consider. At the age of 40, you should have your cholesterol tested every 4-6 years. Previously, AHA guidelines recommended screening for adults at the age of 20, but recent studies have revealed that treating high cholesterol with drug therapy in younger adults does not have a positive long-term impact for heart health. Therefore, your doctor may simply recommend lifestyle changes to manage cholesterol if you have risk factors as a younger adult.
At the age of 40, you might also discuss screenings such as mammograms, colonoscopy, or prostate exams. The CDC reports that only about one quarter of adults between ages 50 and 64 are up-to-date on recommended preventive screenings, so you will want to be sure that you talk with your doctor to become familiar with the right guidelines for your age and gender.
In addition to healthcare screenings, you might consider vaccinations as part of your preventive healthcare routine. The seasonal flu vaccine is recommended for all healthy individuals over the age of 2, but you may also ask about receiving the pneumonia and shingles vaccines to further boost your immunity. The shingles vaccine is specifically recommended for adults over the age of 60, where the pneumococcal vaccination is recommended for children under 5 and adults over 65, as these are the highest risk groups.
To get the facts straight about your screening and vaccination needs, you can rely on MeMD for fast, convenient healthcare from the comfort of home.