Renew Your Resolution for Good Health This Spring
April 8, 2019
By : Sagan Dobie, PA-C
If everyone in the United States received recommended clinical preventive care, over 100,000 lives each year could be saved says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Preventive care includes cancer screenings, check-ups, counseling to prevent health conditions, vaccinations and blood tests for diabetes and cholesterol. When cancer and conditions such as heart disease are caught early, treatment is likely to work best.
The CDC says Americans use preventive services at about half the recommended rate. Here’s a quick guide to help keep you and your families healthy.
Schedule a well woman visit every year. Your visit includes a physical exam and screenings for cervical cancer and other diseases. We also like to discuss your health, recommend vitamins, set health goals and answer your questions. We often talk about birth control and menopause. Beginning at age 40, we recommend annual mammograms.
At age 65, it’s time for a bone density test which tells you if you have normal bone density, low bone density (osteopenia) or osteoporosis. Mild bone loss can be treated with weight-bearing exercise like walking, vitamin D and calcium.
Children3-18 years and older should have annual well child visits. We want to make sure your children and teens are meeting growth and developmental milestones. The check-ups give us a chance to complete a physical exam and address emotional or social concerns.
Some vaccines and boosters are recommended for older children. Kids age 11-12 should receive two doses of the HPV vaccine spaced six months apart. This vaccine protects your children against the human papillomavirus. At the same time, they can get their vaccine to protect them from meningitis. It’s also time for the Tdap booster to ward off tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough). Data shows whooping cough is making a comeback so this is a very important booster.
Men tend to be reluctant to visit a doctor. Men are encouraged to schedule an annual check-up which includes a physical exam. Annual exams also help men establish a rapport with a primary care provider. It’s important for men to get their blood pressure checked every 3 to 5 years from age 18 to 40 and every year after age 40. High blood pressure increases your risk for stroke and heart attack. At age 50, talk with your primary care provider about prostate cancer screening, earlier if you are African-American or have a family history.
All adults should get their cholesterol tested every 5 years. The American Heart Association recommends testing should begin at age 20. High cholesterol puts us at risk for heart disease and stroke. If your cholesterol is high, you can take steps to lower it by eating lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, increasing physical activity or taking medicine.
If you’re 50, it’s time for a colonoscopy. From age 50 to 75, the U.S. Preventive Task Force recommends colonoscopies every 10 years or sooner with a family history of colon cancer. This is the only screening that can prevent colorectal cancer by removing pre-cancerous polyps.
If you smoke or used to smoke and are age 55-77, you qualify for a low-dose lung CT scan to screen for lung cancer. Men who have smoked qualify for an abdominal aortic aneurysm screening after age 55.
The good news is health plans cover many preventive health care services with no copays or deductibles. Call the number on your insurance card to learn more. Then call your clinic to make your appointment.