Why is Preventive Health Care Important?

Preventive Care and Screenings

Preventive health care can help you assess your risks for certain conditions, such as diabetes, cancer, and osteoporosis. This information helps you take steps to prevent and sometimes even reverse the effects the disease. Preventive care also can help you manage and monitor things like high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol, or high blood sugar so that you can keep symptoms in check and prevent conditions like these from worsening.

Preventive care also includes keeping up to date on vaccinations, including the flu shot. Learn more about what immunizations are recommended for adults.

What Health Screenings do I Need?

Some health screenings are recommended based on your age and gender. Other screenings depend on risk factors, such as family health history, lifestyle factors such as smoking and diet, and other health conditions you have. Always consult with your primary care physician to determine the best screening schedule for you. 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 physician is a great way to ensure that you get the screenings you need when you need them. Here are some general preventive health screening guidelines for adults.

Age 18-39

  • Blood pressure annually
  • Cholesterol: Baseline test in your 20s, then every five years after age 40, 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 a HPV test and Pap smear every three years if results are normal (until age 65)
  • Men: Testicular exam to check for testicular cancer

Age 40-64

Follow the guidelines for 18 to 39, plus talk with your primary care physician 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 doctor 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 55 if you are a current or former smoker with a smoking history.
  • Women: mammogram every 1 to 2 years starting between age 40 and 50, depending on your physician’s advice. If you have a family history of breast cancer, talk with your doctor 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; age 40 for high risk individuals

Age 65-plus

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

Find a primary care physician to help you determine what preventive health screenings you need.

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