The Importance Of Vitamin D For A Strong Immune SystemMay 2, 2023
Guide to Adult Vaccinations: Ensuring a Healthy and Immunized LifeJuly 19, 2023
The journey to maintaining your health and wellness begins with knowledge. Your primary care physician plays an integral role in this journey. They offer essential health screenings that provide valuable insights into your overall well-being. Understanding what wellness tests to request during your primary care visit is paramount. This blog post will guide you on the key screenings to ask for, to stay atop of your health.
1. Blood Pressure Screening
Regular blood pressure checks are crucial, given the silent and dangerous nature of hypertension, often referred to as the “silent killer.” Hypertension increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Therefore, all adults should have their blood pressure checked at least once every two years, and more often if you have known risk factors.
2. Cholesterol Checks
Cholesterol screening measures the levels of various fats in your blood, including LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, and triglycerides. High levels of LDL and triglycerides, or low levels of HDL, are linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Adults aged 20 or older should have their cholesterol levels checked at least once every five years.
3. Diabetes Screening
Diabetes, if left undiagnosed or poorly managed, can lead to a plethora of health problems, including heart disease, kidney disease, and blindness. A fasting blood glucose test or a Hemoglobin A1C test will screen for diabetes. Adults aged 45 or older should consider getting tested every three years, especially if they’re overweight or have other risk factors for diabetes.
4. Body Mass Index (BMI) Calculation
Your primary care physician can calculate your BMI, a measure of body fat based on your weight in relation to your height. A high BMI can indicate an increased risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.
5. Bone Density Screening
Bone density testing is especially important for postmenopausal women, or those at increased risk for osteoporosis due to factors such as long-term steroid use, smoking, or a family history of osteoporosis. The test involves a type of x-ray that measures the amount of calcium and other minerals in a segment of bone.
6. Colorectal Cancer Screening
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States. Screening tests like colonoscopy or fecal occult blood test can find polyps before they turn into cancer. Starting at age 50, both men and women should undergo regular screenings. If you have a family history of the disease, you may need to start screening earlier.
7. Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening
For women, regular mammograms are important to detect breast cancer early, and pap smears to screen for cervical cancer. Current guidelines recommend women start receiving mammograms every one to two years beginning at age 40-50, depending on individual risk factors. Pap smear tests should start at 21 and continue every three years.
8. Prostate Cancer Screening
For men, regular prostate screenings, involving a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood test and possibly a digital rectal exam, can help detect prostate cancer early. Starting at age 50, men should discuss the potential benefits and drawbacks of screening with their doctor.
9. Mental Health Screening
Mental health is an integral part of overall wellness. Your primary care provider may provide screenings for conditions such as depression or anxiety, particularly if you’ve felt down, sad, or hopeless, or if you’ve lost interest in activities you once enjoyed.
10. Vaccination Status
Check with your primary care provider to make sure you are up-to-date on all recommended vaccines, which can prevent serious illnesses such as influenza, pneumonia, shingles, and COVID-19.
These screenings form the foundation of your preventive health care and should be tailored to your age, health status, and family history. Remember, the key to maintaining optimal health is not just treating diseases, but preventing them. Knowledge, along with open communication with your primary care provider, is the first step towards this proactive approach.