By Kristen Houghton
Being proactive about your health and that of your spouse is a necessity; the right medical tests can literally be life savers. Many diseases, if caught early, are completely curable and others, such as diabetes or hypertension, can be controlled with medication, exercise, and diet.
Since women are usually the spouse who makes the doctor’s appointments, the job falls to them to find out as much as possible about what tests are needed. This can present a problem since we are bombarded with information through the media and the internet on “what we need.”
Speaking openly with your doctor will help you decide what tests are necessary to ensure that you are protecting your health.
Let’s begin with the tests you both, need to have done.
Blood pressure, cholesterol, and a comprehensive blood test are all basics that should be part of your annual exams.
Get a complete body check of your skin by a dermatologist trained in the area of skin cancer detection.
If either of you are over forty, you should get a baseline electrocardiogram. Baseline simply means that all future tests are compared to the first one noting any changes.
For women a thorough gynecological exam with a pap test is essential. Unless your family history indicates having one earlier, mammograms beginning at age forty are recommended. Monthly breast self-exams are a must.
Men need to perform a testicular self exam and make sure the same test is done by their doctor at the regular physical. In their forties, it is crucial that men have a prostate exam done by an urologist.
After age fifty you should have a colonoscopy and a thyroid test.
Get a regular check-up and make it soon. Good health is a priceless gift.
Age 12: Blood pressure test and, for men, testicular exam
Age 20: Cholesterol test
Age 21: For women, gynecology exam and pap smear (get tested earlier if sexually active)
Age 35: Blood sugar, anemia and thyroid exams
Age 40: For women, mammogram (start at age 25 if you have had two female relatives with breast cancer). Also, for men and women, skin exam by partner (take pictures of moles) and baseline electrocardiogram (a test that records the electrical activity of the heart)
Age 50: Colonoscopy (get one every five years). Also, for men, prostate test
Age 50–60: Exercise stress test or coronary CTA (if obese or diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes)
Age 55–60: Thyroid-stimulating hormone blood test (used to detect problems affecting the thyroid gland); memory test (tell a complex story and repeat key points or have someone tell you a phone number and see if you can remember it—if you can't pick it out of a list of numbers, this could be a sign of early Alzheimer's disease)
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