As we bid goodbye to 2022 and ushered in a brand-new year, many of us came up with a list of inspiring goals that we hope to achieve in 2023. We call this the ‘bucket list’.
A bucket list doesn’t take long to create, it won’t even cost a cent. But hold your laurels before listing down things like ‘travelling the world’ or ‘learning a new language’ or ‘climbing Mount Everest’. For all these things to come to fruition, there’s one goal you need to prioritise, not just in 2023, but as long as we live and that is complying to regular health screenings for your wellbeing.
The idea of health screening should not petrify you. Instead, it is a chance for you to evaluate the status of your health parameters and lead you in the direction of a healthier lifestyle. Here we present to you 5 preventive health screening tests recommended for men and women (this list is by no means exhaustive and can overlap for both genders):
1. Blood Pressure Tests
Blood pressure tests are the basic medical assessment done in every hospital and is important to ensure a person’s general health care. The test is used to monitor the status of our blood pressure (the pressure applied by the blood on the artery walls when it’s being pumped by the heart to the entire body) and to examine the risk of developing a cardiovascular disease. In most cases, people with low blood pressure (hypotension) might not face any severe issues, although there could be some signs of exhaustion and fainting. The issue arises when one is diagnosed with high blood pressure, which is an indication of a potential illness associating the heart .
People aged 18 and above are recommended to undergo a blood pressure test at least once every 2 to 5 years while those aged 40 and above should have the tests done annually. The frequency of check-ups depends on the severity of one’s health condition as those who live with a chronic health condition should have the tests done frequently as per the advice by their healthcare provider .
Cholesterol tests are to determine whether your cholesterol level is high and to estimate the risk of heart attacks, strokes as well as other forms of heart diseases. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, children as young as 9 years old can start having their cholesterol levels checked at 5-year intervals and once a child hits adulthood, yearly screening is highly recommended .
3. Pap Smear Test
A pap smear test (also called a pap test or Papanicolaou) is done to look for changes in cervical cells or precancerous cells before they turn into cancer. Women ages 21 to 65 are advised to go for the test once every 3 years .
4. Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Tests
If you are sexually active, then it would be best to go for STD tests. Among the many tests available, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) test is one of the more common ones. HPV is a common sexually transmitted disease that can cause cervical cancer in women. The testing procedure for HPV is like a pap smear and is recommended once every 5 years for women aged 30 to 65 . Usually, the HPV test is done together with the pap smear test.
Another test that can be considered is the HIV test. The test is recommended to anyone who is sexually active, and the test should be done at least once a year.
Mammography is a focused procedure which uses low-dose x-rays to screen for any early signs of breast cancer. Patients might be experiencing some symptoms such as soreness or pain on the breast, lump, nipple discharge and for some, they might appear symptomless. Regardless of having symptoms or no symptoms, all women are encouraged to go for a breast screening test once in their lifetime. Healthcare providers usually recommend starting mammogram screenings from the ages of 40 to 50 (based on the prevalence) but recommendations can vary for women with higher risks of breast cancer .
1. PSA (Prostate-specific antigen test)
The PSA test is referred to as the ‘gold-standard’ blood test for symptomless, early-stage prostate cancer detection . Prostate cancer typically grows slowly and due to its nature, men are usually encouraged to start going for the tests right about when they hit 50 years of age at 5-year intervals. A urologist is usually assigned to screen for any prostate enlargement which can either be part of an ageing process or cancerous.
2. Diabetes Tests
Diabetes is a chronic medical condition which occurs when the pancreas in our body produces insufficient insulin or if the body fails to use the insulin produced. Diabetes can be classified into three categories, type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes and therefore, a basic medical assessment is required to ensure the categorisation is accurate. Physicians recommend annual testing for youngsters between the ages of 10 and 18 who are overweight, obese and have at least one more risk factor, such as low birth weight or a parent who had diabetes while pregnant while healthy adults and children should be tested every 3 years.
3. Bone Density Test
Bone density test is a medical procedure used to measure the bone mineral level and its density to better identify the risk of osteoporosis or a possible bone fracture in the future. Anyone over 65 years of age is recommended to go for annual bone density tests. Some of the tools used during the screening process are low-dose X-rays, CT scan or DEXA scan (gold-standard test) for high accuracy purposes.
4. HCV (Hepatitis C) Test
Hepatitis C is an infection caused by the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) which could potentially lead to severe liver diseases such as liver cirrhosis or liver cancer, if left untreated. The good news is, Hepatitis C can be cured, and testing is the first step to take. Any suspicion of exposure towards the virus must be accompanied with a HCV antibody test or anti-HCV test that only requires a blood sample. The Centres for Disease Control (CDC) recommends everyone aged 18 years and above to get a once-in-a-lifetime screening for Hepatitis C .
Now, this bucket list may come off as scary, morbid even, but it isn’t. The fact is early detection saves lives; this line has been said countless times and is still true until today. Don’t halt the process, go tick off ‘health screenings’ on your bucket list today.
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