Screening tests, such as checking blood pressure, can find diseases early when they are easier to treat. Some women need certain screening tests earlier, or more often, than others. Talk to your practitioner about which of
the tests listed below are right for you, when you should have them, and how often. The following recommendations have been made based on scientific evidence, about which screening tests you should have.
Screening Tests: What You Need and When
• Cholesterol Checks: Have your cholesterol checked at least every 5 years, starting at age 35. If you smoke, have diabetes, or if heart disease runs in your family, start having your cholesterol checked at age 20.
• Blood Pressure: Have your blood pressure checked every 1 to 2 years. Yearly if at high risk.
• Colorectal Cancer Tests: Begin regular screening for colorectal cancer starting at age 50. Your practitioner can help you decide which test is right for you. How often you need to be tested will depend on which test you have.
• Diabetes Tests: Have a test to screen for diabetes every 3 years if you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
• Eye Exam: Have your eyes checked every 2-4 years. If you are 45 or older, have them checked every 1-2 years.
• Depression: If you’ve felt “down,” sad, or hopeless, and have felt little interest or pleasure in doing things for 2 weeks straight, talk to your practitioner about screening for depression.
• Transmitted Diseases: Talk to your practitioner to see whether you should be screened for transmitted diseases through intimate relations, such as HIV.
• Cervical Cancer Screening: Begin your screening at age 40 if your sister or mother had prostate cancer or if you are an African American. Talk to your practitioner about the possible benefits and harms of prostate cancer screening.
Prevention is the Key
• Aspirin: Talk to your practitioner about taking aspirin to prevent heart disease if you are older than 40, or if you are younger than 40 and have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or if you smoke.
• Immunizations: Stay up-to-date with your immunizations:
• Have a flu shot every year starting at age 50, or younger if you have a chronic illness.
• Have a tetanus-diphtheria shot every 10 years.
• Have a pneumonia shot once. If you had a shot before age 65, you may need booster. Ask your doctor if you need one.
• Talk to your practitioner to see whether you need hepatitis A and/or B shot. The hepatitis A shot is given in 2
doses. The hepatitis B shot is a series of 3 doses.
• If you were born in 1957 or later, or are a health care professional at risk for exposure, you may need to get a
measles and mumps shot. Talk to your practitioner.
• If you are a teacher of young children, daycare worker or a college student, talk to your practitioner about getting the chicken pox vaccine.
What Else Can You Do To Stay Healthy?
Don’t Smoke. But if you do smoke, talk to your practitioner about quitting. You can take medicine and get counseling to help you quit. Make a plan and set a quit date. Tell your family, friends, and co-workers you are quitting. Ask for their support.
Eat a Healthy Diet. Eat a variety of foods, including fruit, vegetables, animal or vegetable protein (such as meat, fish, chicken, eggs, beans, lentils or tofu) and grains (such as rice). Limit the amount of saturated fat and salt you eat.
Be Physically Active. Walk, dance, ride a bike, rake leaves, or do any other physical activity you enjoy. Start small and work up to a total of 20-30 minutes most days of the week. If you plan to start vigorous exercising be sure to talk to your practitioner prior to beginning a program.
Stay at a Healthy Weight. Balance the number of calories you eat with the number you burn off by your activities. Remember to watch portion sizes.
Drink Alcohol Only in Moderation. If you drink alcohol, have no more than 2 drinks a day. A standard drink is one 12-ounce bottle of beer or wine cooler, one 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.
Screening Test Checklist
Take this checklist with you to your practitioner’s office and fill it out when you have had any of the tests listed below. Some of these tests will not apply to you. Talk to your practitioner about when, or if, you should have these tests. Note the month and year in the right-hand column. Also, talk to your practitioner about which of the other tests listed below you should have in the future, and when you need them.
The last time I had the
following screening test
or immunizations was:
I should schedule my
next test for:
Where Can I Learn More?
• Next time you are in for a visit, ask your doctor for information on screenings and immunizations.
• Search our website more information.
• Go to a health education class offered at your local hospital or community center.