Mark Your Calendar For Annual Checkups

Spring means spring cleaning to a lot of people, the time for the sort of general maintenance work that helps keep your life orderly and organized. It’s also a good time to do maintenance on you. Early detection can be a lifesaver for many conditions, so now is an excellent opportunity to get to your healthcare provider for important health screenings and tests to help you catch serious diseases before you see symptoms.

Here are some things you should be sure to be checked for:

  • Heart disease. Heart disease is the biggest single cause of death for men and women alike. Chronic high blood pressure is an early warning sign of, and common precursor to, heart disease, but often has no symptoms itself. It’s important to get your blood pressure checked regularly. Cholesterol screenings are also important for adults, even people in their 20s and 30s—by the time high cholesterol is causing problems, it’s been building up for a lifetime, and it’s never too soon to keep it in check.
  • Breast cancer. Women over 50 should have annual or biannual mammograms; women with a family history of breast cancer, particularly at a relatively young age, or who carry any of several genes for the condition would probably benefit from screenings in middle age. Men can get breast cancer too, and men with risk factors such as obesity should talk to their doctors about getting tested.
  • Colon cancer. People between 50 and 75, or between 40 and 75 with a family history or other risk factors, should be checked for colon cancer annually. One in 20 people will develop the condition, and it is the third leading cause of death, but it can be treated if it’s discovered in time.
  • Type 2 diabetes. If you can discover type 2 diabetes early, you can take steps to not only manage but minimize it, reducing the risk of permanent damage and possibly avoiding needing insulin. Screening, particularly in high-risk patients can also help find prediabetic conditions, enabling a patient to adopt a healthier lifestyle before becoming diabetic.

Get your annual checkup in the spring, and talk to your physician about what tests you might benefit from given your age and health history. If you take care of your health, you can enjoy the summer—and many summers after.

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