We cannot emphasize enough the importance of getting regular medical screenings. Surprisingly, some people would rather wait until they show signs and symptoms of illness or complications to visit their healthcare providers. Don't be part of this group if you want to protect your health. In line with that, this post covers the checkups and tests you shouldn't miss.
1. Blood pressure tests
Blood pressure tests are crucial to lowering your risk for life-threatening conditions like heart disease and stroke. Hypertension is the leading cause of premature death in the world. But how often should you get tested? If a diagnosis reveals that your BP is higher than 130/80 mm Hg, the doctors will tell you the ideal frequency of your checkups. When your BP falls within the healthy range (below 120/80 mm Hg), it's safe to get screened every two years.
2. Dental checkups
The rule of thumb is that patients should take a trip to the dentist once or twice a year. You need professional teeth cleanings and thorough dental exams to rule out potential gum diseases, cavities, infections, enamel erosions, and other issues. It doesn't matter if you have been brushing and flossing your teeth as recommended. You can still develop dental problems despite embracing good oral habits.
3. Cancer screenings
With regular cancer screening tests, doctors can catch cancers early enough and increase the treatment success rate. The Public Health Agency of Canada and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention support getting screened for at least breast, cervical, colorectal (colon), and lung cancer.
- Breast cancer screening:
According to the United States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF), 50-74-year-old women should consider getting a mammogram. After the first breast cancer screening, you will need testing every year or once every two years.
- Cervical cancer screening:
You should start cervical cancer screening after turning 21. A Pap test is preferred for women aged 21 to 29. Screening should happen at least every three years. Those above 30 and up to 65 years can have a Pap or HPV test. With HPV testing, it should occur every five years.
- Colorectal cancer screening:
These tests are recommended for patients who are 45-75 years old. You may need to undergo sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, or fecal immunochemical test (FIT). Sigmoidoscopy happens every five years, whereas colonoscopy happens every 3-10 years. When it comes to FIT, it happens every year.
- Lung cancer screening:
Heavy smokers in the 50-80 age bracket need a low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) test once a year. A doctor may also suggest getting an LDCT for those who have quit smoking within the past 15 years.
4. Cholesterol tests
If you have unhealthy cholesterol levels in the blood, you could suffer coronary artery disease and other heart diseases. Adults with a high risk for diabetes, heart disease, or a family history of high cholesterol need checkups more often, depending on individual assessment. Healthy people aged 21 and above need cholesterol tests every 4-6 years. Kids need at least one checkup when they are 9-11 and 17-21 years old.
5. Blood sugar test
You should also not miss getting a blood sugar test. A hemoglobin A1C blood test, an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), or a fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test can help determine the glucose levels in your blood and prevent prediabetes from progressing to diabetes. Adults 45 or older should start regular blood sugar tests.
However, your healthcare provider may suggest undergoing the test earlier in some cases. For instance, if you are overweight, your blood pressure is higher than 135/80 mm Hg, or you developed gestational diabetes during pregnancy, early tests may be necessary.