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Staying on Top of Your Health Screenings

The best way to fight chronic conditions is prevention. Luckily, warning signs – such as gradual increases in blood pressure or incremental weight gain – can creep up slowly, sometimes over years.

Keeping an eye on these subtle changes through annual physical exams, physicians can help identify and even prevent chronic illnesses. But these exams only work if patients come in for them regularly.

Preventative services keep immunizations up-to-date, monitor body mass index and blood pressure and uncover lifestyle factors such as sleep, diet, and exercise habits, as well as tobacco and alcohol use and screening for sexually transmitted infections.

Your physician can recommend small adjustments early on that may prevent or delay the onset of illness down the line.

Here are some age and gender specific screening recommendations you should be monitoring with your physician:

Women:

  • Over the age of 21, a pap smear is recommended every 3 years until age 30. After age 30, pap tests and HPV tests are recommended every 5 years.
  • Mammograms are recommended every year starting at age 40.
  • Osteoporosis screening is recommended starting at age 65.

Men:

  • Men ages 50 to 70 should talk to their doctors about prostate cancer screening with a blood test called PSA, to decide if it is appropriate for them.
  • In men ages 65 to 75 who have ever smoked regularly, a one-time ultrasound to screen for an abdominal aortic aneurysm is recommended.

Both men and women:

  • Cholesterol screening should be performed between the ages of 40 to 75 years of age.
  • Colorectal cancer screening from the ages of 50 to 75 should be performed with either a colonoscopy or yearly stool testing.

People who “never see the doctor,” often think they’re healthy. But if someone isn’t seeing their doctor at least once a year, there is no way to know just how healthy they are.

Sara Etemad, M.D. and Regina Mojica, M.D., are with Hoag Medical Group.