Turning 40 is a great milestone age to start to take stock of your overall health. But what tests do you really need?
Here are the top five medical tests men and women in their 40’s and later should get. These will prevent or stop progression of many potential medical illnesses.
Make a habit of scheduling routine physical tests and exams to stay in tip-top shape.
#1 Check Your Heart’s Health
Although it is assumed heart disease affects men most, it is still the number one killer of women.
The most common cause of heart disease is narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries, the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart itself, also called coronary disease that can lead to heart attacks.
Heart health is determined through three main tests. The first is your Cholesterol Profile. Which includes a “good” cholesterol (HDL), “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides reading. Normal triglyceride levels are below 150. Levels above 200 are high.
Blood sugar will also be tested, mainly through a fasting blood glucose test. You can test blood sugar at home, but it is still important to get this lab test. Most doctors recommend a glucose test every 3 years after age 45.
The final heart check is blood pressure. Women and men differ slightly in this area. The ideal number is 120/80 for women, while men should be 115/70.
If your blood pressure is higher than your recommended number, it could be a serious warning sign.
#2 Get A Colonoscopy
Once thought to be just a concern for men, we now know that colon cancer can kill either men or women without discrimination. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer, excluding skin cancers.
Unfortunately, statistics show that less than 30% of people over 40 ever get tested. Men and women over age 45 should plan a colonoscopy at least every 2 years and then annually after age 50.
#3 Skin Tests
Skin cancer is considered the most common form of cancer. Melanoma skin cancer is the most aggressive form and can be fatal. Even the non fatal forms of skin cancer can erode skin and affect surrounding nerves and muscular tissue.
A dermatologist will examine your skin looking for irregularly shaped moles and odd colored skin. If a suspicious spot is found, it will be removed and evaluated. If the diagnosis is cancer, there will probably be further surgery to remove the tumor.
#4 Weight Check
The final test is to make sure you are at a healthy weight. Excess weight increases the workload on the heart. It also raises blood pressure, cholesterol, triglyceride levels and lowers HDL “good” cholesterol.
Diabetes is also a possibility with increased weight. Check with your doctor to find out if you are a healthy weight for your height. If not, they can suggest a quick weight loss, diet and exercise plan for you that will add years to your life.
These are all relatively simple tests. It is surprising how many men and women fail to get tested when they should.
If you are over 40 it is time that you became more serious about your health and scheduled a checkup with your doctor.