Keeping Tabs on Your Vitals Is…Vital

One of the best things you can do for your overall health is to visit your doctor yearly for wellness exams. Your physician will help you maintain your health by providing a yearly flu shot, a tetanus booster every 10 years, and the shingles and pneumonia vaccines. Annual health checks can also help you avoid the two leading causes of death in the US: heart disease and cancer. What tests should you include as part of your health maintenance plan? Here’s an overview.

Heart Disease Screens 

Get your blood pressure checked every two years and have your cholesterol, heart rate, and blood sugar checked at your annual wellness exam. In your 50s, your doctor may prescribe a daily aspirin, which helps prevent heart attacks. In your 60s, a yearly ankle-brachial index test measures plaque buildup in your leg arteries, to help diagnose peripheral artery disease.

Cancer Checks

Human beings are susceptible to more than 200 types of cancer. Lung and colon cancer are currently two of the deadliest. In the US, women have a one-in-eight chance of a breast cancer diagnosis in their lifetime. Cancer screening can save your life.

Lung Cancer Screenings

The low-dose helical computed tomography test screens for lung cancer. It reduces deaths among heavy smokers aged 55 to 74. If you meet the risk criteria, including exposure to cancer-causing carcinogens and a family history of lung cancer, your doctor may run this test annually.

Colon Cancer Tests

Between the ages of 45 and 75, everyone should get a colon cancer screening, or a colonoscopy. If your first test reveals no polyps and you have no risk factors, you won’t need another colonoscopy for 10 years.

While experts consider the colonoscopy to be the most accurate screening for colon cancer, sigmoidoscopy and high-sensitivity fecal occult blood tests are also available. If either test shows polyps or other abnormalities, your doctor will recommend a colonoscopy.

These various screenings might not top your “fun activities” list, but they can help keep you healthy and even save your life. If it’s not already on your 2019 calendar, schedule your next exam today.