One of the best ways to stay on top of your health is through preventive care and screenings. Your primary care provider can tell you which screenings you need. Screenings are important because they help find medical problems early before they become hard to treat.
Below is a guide for some of the top preventive screenings for men over 50 years old, recommended by the U.S. Preventive Task Force. Remember to talk to your doctor about the ones that are most appropriate for you!
Cholesterol Screening: A cholesterol screening monitors your risk for heart disease, stroke, and poor circulation. Often called a lipid panel, this screening is a blood test that measures the amount of cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood. Your cholesterol should be checked regularly based on your doctor’s recommendations. This screening may be included in your annual exam.
Blood Pressure: A blood pressure screening is recommended at least every two years. This test can help your doctor determine your risk for heart attack, stroke, kidney problems, and heart failure. If you have high blood pressure, it’s important to regularly monitor your condition and take all medications as prescribed. You might also want to have a conversation with your doctor about home monitors.
Diabetes Screening: Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to blindness, kidney disease, and even amputation. The best way to know if you are at risk is to talk to your doctor about getting a screening. After the initial screening, your doctor will tell you how often you should get screened.
Body Composition Screening: One of the best ways to reduce your risk for disease is to maintain a healthy body weight. Your doctor can evaluate your risk for overweight and obesity by measuring your body mass index (BMI) annually. BMI is calculated using your weight and height. Your doctor can measure your BMI annually and talk to you about your risk level based on your results.
Vision and Hearing: It’s important to talk to your doctor about changes in your vision or hearing as you age. If you have a prescription for lenses, it’s essential to maintain your annual or biannual vision exam. Talk to your doctor about how often you should have your hearing evaluated.
Lung Cancer Screening: This test can detect abnormal cells in the lungs that may be cancerous. Talk to your doctor about getting this screening if you are between 55 and 80 years old, have a history of smoking, and have quit smoking within the past 15 years.
Colon Cancer Screening: This is a test for colorectal cancer. This screening can be completed in a few different ways such as a colonoscopy or a stool test. It’s important that you talk to your doctor about the option that is best for you.
Depression Screening: Physical and emotional health are equally important. Emotional health has different screenings from physical health. It’s important to tell your doctor if you have felt sad, hopeless, or down; have little interest in doing things you once loved; or have suicidal thoughts. In those cases, you may need treatment for depression. A screening can help your provider determine what treatment options are most appropriate for you.
Immunizations: It’s important to stay up to date with recommended immunizations. As you age, there may be a need for additional immunizations to keep you healthy. Talk to your doctor about your annual flu shot, the shingles vaccine, and the pneumonia vaccine if you are age 65 or over or you have other risks.
If you are unsure whether or not you need some of these screenings, ask your doctor or primary care provider. He or she will be able to help you determine which ones you need and how often you need them. Staying current can help you take more control of your health.