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Make January The Month You Plan Your Health Check Ups

01/07/2024 1:25 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Your health check-ups plan

Use the check list to find out what tests, screenings and shots you need for your age, and then start making appointments to get them. Ask a Doctor columnist Trisha Pasricha is an internal-medicine specialist and gastroenterologist, and she’s compiled a list of key checkups you need at every age.

Why you should try this

It’s easy to lose track of the medical appointments you need. When you do remember, getting an appointment with your doctor or specialist can take months. But routine screenings are important — even when you think you’re healthy — because they can detect conditions early or prevent future ones. To catch up on missed maintenance and needed checkups, use our list to motivate you to make those appointments.

Take a body tuneup quiz

How much do you know about the medical checkups you should be getting? Here’s a short quiz to test your knowledge. Answer True or False, and then find the correct answers in the next section.

1. Blood pressure: Blood pressure is considered abnormal if it goes above the threshold of 140/90 mm Hg.

2. Eye health: Regular eye exams for glasses and contact lenses can preserve eye health as you age.

3. Cervical cancer: Women don’t need an annual Pap smear to screen for cervical cancer.

4. Breast cancer: Women should begin screening mammograms at age 40.

5. STDs: After the age of 65, screening for sexually transmitted disease is no longer needed.

6. Colorectal cancer: Everyone should get their first colonoscopy at age 50.

7. Aging: As you enter your 70s, many routine screenings may end.

8. Prostate cancer: Universal screening for prostate cancer is recommended for men in their 40s.


1. Blood pressure: False. Recent guidelines state that blood pressure at or above 120/80 mm Hg is abnormal.

2. Eye health: False. A complete eye exam typically involves dilating the pupil to get a closer look at the retina and optic nerve. Routine vision checks for glasses or contact lenses don’t count.

3. Cervical cancer screening: True. Most women don’t need annual Pap tests. A schedule of every three to five years, depending on the test, is typically recommended.

4. Mammograms: True. Recent guidelines lowered the age to start routine breast cancer screening from 50 to 40.

5. STD testing: False. Age doesn’t protect you from STDs. Sexually transmitted infections among adults age 65 and older more than doubled from 2007 to 2017.

6. Colorectal cancer: False. Get your first colonoscopy at age 45, or sooner if you have a high-risk history, such as inflammatory bowel disease or a first-degree relative with early-onset colorectal cancer. Some medical groups advise African Americans to start screening at age 40.

7. Aging and screenings: True. As you enter your 70s, many routine screenings may end. After a certain age, screening is unlikely to prolong life; follow-up testing and treatment is often invasive and carries risks.

8. Prostate cancer: False. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force does not officially recommend a widespread screening program for prostate cancer. Discuss the risks and benefits of screening with a PSA blood test with your doctor.

So how did you do? Whatever your score, there is always more to learn. Use the link to read the full check list for your age group.

More tips to be a better patient

Come 15 minutes early to your visit. That means you’re checked in, paperwork is filled out, and vitals are checked, so that when your appointment officially starts, you spend more of your allotted time face-to-face with your physician and not getting your height measured.

Plan your story ahead. Lead with your most pressing problem, and get the timeline of your symptoms straight with as many specifics as possible (it makes a big difference to your doctor if your cough has been going on for several months instead of two weeks).

Write down your questions. If you’ve got a few things on your mind, write them down. Your doctor has limited time, so start with your most important questions first.

Don’t let embarrassment keep you from getting the help you need. “I perform colonoscopies every week, so believe me when I say that words such as flatulence or farting won’t make me blush,” Pasricha said. Whether it’s bowel issues, burping or sexual side effects, don’t be shy. Your doctor has heard it all.

Take a picture. In the age of smartphones, don’t hesitate to snap a picture if something seems amiss. That means pictures of poop, a weird rash, a bruise or a bite. If you find a tick on your body, take a picture so the doctor will be able to determine what kind it was.

Bring a medicine list. Doctors need to know about your medications. If you’re seeing a new doctor or specialist, write down all medications, including birth control and vitamins. List the name, dose and frequency. If you don’t have time, snap some pictures of the pill bottles.

Schedule appointments on Friday if you can. Researchers in Britain have identified a “weekday” effect for doctor’s appointments. Patients are more likely to miss appointments on a Monday, and show up on time for Friday appointments.

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