Health screenings are important for a variety of reasons. They may identify early risk factors, or even potentially dangerous health problems that need treatment. Your health care provider may follow a specific schedule based on your personal health history, but here are some general guidelines:
If yours is normal, it should be checked every two years starting at age 20. If it is high, or if you have certain health conditions, follow the advice of your physician.
Cholesterol and Triglycerides
These should be tested every 5 years starting at age 20, more often if advised by your physician.
Blood glucose levels should be checked at least every 3 years, starting at age 45. If you are overweight and have any other risk factors, your physician may want to start testing earlier.
This is a time to perform the tests above, and also check your height, weight, and Body Mass Index (BMI). An unhealthy weight increases your risk for conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Physicals should occur every 2 years before age 50, and annually thereafter.
Colon Cancer Screenings
These usually occur between the ages of 50-75, and may include stool tests, colonoscopies, barium enemas, or flexible sigmoidoscopies. Test results and risk factors for colon cancer may determine frequency and amount of testing recommended.
Prostate Cancer Screenings
Men should consider screening for prostate cancer after age 50. Screening may be recommended after age 45 for those who are African American or have a family history of prostate cancer. This usually involves a blood test to check the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and a physical exam.
Men between the ages of 50 and 75 should discuss osteoporosis screening with their physicians.
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) Screening
For men who have smoked, an ultrasound may be recommended to screen for an AAA. Typically this is done between the ages of 65 and 75.
By taking action early and getting the recommended screenings, you can help prevent undesirable health problems.