Health Assessments For the Family

healthAre health assessments for the family important or necessary? The truth is that we mums are fantastic at making sure our little ones and husbands are healthy,that they eat well and are up to date with all medical checkups. Unfortunately, we do not pay as much attention to our bodies and to ourselves.The reality is that our children and husband need a healthy mum to continue to do those things that we mums do best. It is therefore important that we look after ourselves and we know “our numbers”.

In this series, we will be looking at those assessments that everyone in the family needs to do. The key benefit of a health assessment is to tell you what your health status is now and where it might be heading. Regular health exams and tests can help find any problem areas before they start. It is best if there are going to be any health problems, to find out when your chances for treatment and cure are better. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist to find out more information as necessary.

Health Assessment/screening When Why
Blood Pressure test

Ages 18 and above: Get tested at least every 2 years if you have normal blood pressure (lower than 120/80).Get tested once a year if you have blood pressure between 120/80 and 139/89 or a family history of high blood pressure, stroke or heart attack.

Discuss treatment with your doctor or nurse if you have blood pressure 140/90 or higher.

The only way to identify hypertension is with blood pressure screenings
Cholesterol test Starting at age 35, check your cholesterol level every 2 years.Begin screening at age 20 if you smoke, are obese, have diabetes,  high blood pressure or have a family history of heart disease. Then check once a year. Treating cholesterol abnormalities can help reduce your risk of heart disease
Diabetes screening – Fasting Blood Glucose Every three years starting at age 45 but more often or earlier if you’re overweight or at risk for diabetes.Get screened for diabetes if your blood pressure is higher than 135/80 or if you take medicine for high blood pressure. To provide an early warning sign of high blood sugar levels, which could mean an increased risk for diabetes
Body Mass Index (BMI) & Waist Measurement Check your body mass index (BMI) and waist measurement once a year from the age of 25. Being overweight is a significant risk factor for many health conditions, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Cervical Cancer Screening – Pap Smear Test By the age of 25 you should start screening especially if you are sexually active.Between 25 to 49 years old you should aim for screening once every three years.

Between 50 to 64 years old you should aim for screening once every five years.

Aged 65 or over, screening should only be if you have not been screened since you were 50 or if you have had recent abnormal test results.

Helps identify women at risk for developing cervical cancer.
Breast Cancer Screening Self-examination of breasts should be carried out once a month to detect unusual changes in the breasts starting at age 20.Clinical Breast examination by a health care provider should take place every three years starting at age 20.

Screening mammography starting at age 40 every 2 years in addition to the self-examination.

Ultrasound screening can also be done in addition to mammograms.

Women in high-risk categories (high risk include women with previous history of breast cancer in the family) should have screening mammograms every year and before the age of 40.

To identify possible early signs of breast cancer

Not all breast cancers are found on mammograms; a good clinical breast exam can also help identify cancers relatively early.

Vision Tests (Eye Examination) Women should have an eye examination at least once from ages 20 to 29; at least two eye examinations between ages 30 and 39.At age 40, women should get a baseline eye disease screening. Based on results, follow ophthalmologist’s recommendations until age 65. After that, complete eye exam every one to two years. To test your vision and screen for glaucoma and macular degeneration, two common, often age-related conditions.
Hearing test Beginning at age 18, then once every 10 years until age 50, after which it should be once every three years To make sure you’re hearing all life has to offer
Dental Examination At least once a year; twice a year is best starting from age 18 To remove plaque and bacteria that could lead to tooth and gum disease; to check for tongue and mouth cancer. Problems with your teeth can indicate osteoporosis
HIV Test Get tested for HIV at least once. If you have new or multiple sexual partners, get tested once a year. HIV can only be detected through testing
Chlamydia test Get tested for chlamydia yearly from the age of 24 if you are sexually active, especially if you have new or multiple sexual partners. STDs can only be detected through testing.
Gonorrhea test Get tested for gonorrhea yearly from the age of 24 if you are sexually active, especially if you have new or multiple sexual partners. STDs can only be detected through testing.
Bone Mineral Density Test (osteoporosis screening) At least once beginning at age 65; earlier depending on your risk factors for osteoporosis.Risk factors for osteoporosis – including a thin build, early menopause, long times with no periods when younger, age over 70 years, long-term use of cortisone medication. Speak to your Doctor if you have concerns. There are no obvious signs of osteoporosis until you fracture a bone. Bone density screenings identify problems early, enabling you to start treatment and prevent further bone loss
Colorectal cancer screening(using fecal occult blood testing, sigmoidoscopy, or colonoscopy) Annually starting at age 50 for the fecal occult blood test or the fecal immunochemical test; stool DNA test may be given at intervals recommended by your doctorTalk to your doctor about which screening test is best for you and how often you need it To provide an early warning sign about colon cancer

This list is in no way exhaustive, always speak to your Doctor first before undergoing any tests and to understand your particular Health profile.

Office on Women’s health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Better Health Channel – Health Checks for Women
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