Preventive Care is the Key to a Healthier, Longer Life


Have you ever thought to yourself, “I feel great! Why do I need to schedule a check-up?” Even if you feel healthy, preventive health care can help you assess your risks for certain conditions, such as diabetes, cancer and osteoporosis.

“Staying up to date on routine care and screenings helps you take steps to prevent and sometimes even reverse the affects of a disease,” said Varun Dobariya, MD, a fellowship-trained internist with Penn Highlands Internal Medicine in Monongahela, Pa. “Preventive care can also help you manage and monitor things such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or high blood sugar so that you can keep symptoms in check.”

What health screenings do I need?

“Some health screenings are recommended based on your age and gender,” said Dr. Dobariya. “Other screenings depend on risk factors, such as family health history, lifestyle factors such as smoking and diet, and other health conditions you may have.”

If you have elevated risks, you may need to start some screenings earlier than recommended or have them done more frequently. Scheduling an annual checkup with your primary care provider is a great way to ensure that you get the screenings you need when you need them.

Your primary care provider may recommend a multiphasic blood test, which is one test that can check for early warning signs of conditions such as coronary heart disease, liver disease, kidney disease, diabetes and others. In addition, here are some general preventive health screening guidelines for adults:

Age 18-39

  • Blood pressure annually
  • Cholesterol: baseline test in your 20s, more frequently if you have high cholesterol
  • Skin: full-body check for moles or other spots that could be skin cancer
  • Women: clinical breast exam annually, pelvic exam annually with an HPV test and Pap smear every three years if results are normal (until age 65)
  • Men: testicular exam to check for cancer

Age 40-64

Follow the guidelines for ages 18 to 39, plus talk with your primary care provider about these additional screenings:

  • Fasting blood sugar (hemoglobin A1C) test every three years after age 44 to check for diabetes
  • Colonoscopy starting at age 50 and repeated every 10 years if results are normal. If you have a family history of colon cancer, talk with your primary care provider about earlier or more frequent testing.
  • Annual vision screening
  • PAD (peripheral artery disease) screening based on risk factors
  • Stroke/carotid artery screening based on risk factors
  • Low-dose CT lung cancer screening annually starting at age 50 if you are a current or former smoker
  • Women: mammogram every one to two years starting between age 40 and 50, depending on your provider’s advice. If you have a family history of breast cancer, talk with your provider about earlier or more frequent testing.
  • Men: prostate cancer screenings, including digital rectal exam and PSA (prostate specific antigen) blood test starting at age 50 or age 40 for high-risk individuals

Age 65-plus

Follow the guidelines for ages 40 to 65, plus talk with your primary care provider about these additional screenings:

  • Bone density or DEXA screening starting at age 65 and repeated every two to five years, depending on risk factors
  • Colonoscopy every five years until age 75
  • Mammogram every one to two years until age 75
  • Annual vision and hearing tests

One of the best things you can do for your health is to have routine preventive care so that you can stay healthy and catch problems early for a longer and healthier life. Talk to your primary care provider about which screenings you may need based on your current risk factors.

The primary care providers at Penn Highlands Healthcare include internal medicine, family medicine and pediatric practices to cover all ages of life. The Penn Highlands primary care providers work with patients to help them make healthy choices and improve their quality of life. They help create the best preventive health screening schedule for their patients, and serve as a partner in making sure they receive the care needed. To find a primary care provider near you, visit