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Manage Your Health

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Health screening - women - age 40 - 64

Definition

All adults should visit their health care provider from time to time, even if they are healthy. The purpose of these visits is to:

  • Screen for diseases
  • Assess risk of future medical problems
  • Encourage a healthy lifestyle
  • Update vaccinations
  • Maintain a relationship with a doctor in case of an illness

Alternative Names

Health maintenance visit - women - age 40 - 64; Physical exam - women - age 40 - 64; Yearly exam - women - age 40 - 64; Checkup - women - age 40 - 64; Women’s health - age 40 - 64

Information

Even if you feel fine, it is still important to see your health care provider regularly to check for potential problems. Most people who have high blood pressure don't even know it. The only way to find out is to have your blood pressure checked regularly. Likewise, high blood sugar and high cholesterol levels often do not produce any symptoms until the disease becomes advanced.

There are specific times when you should see your health care provider. Age-specific guidelines are as follows:

  • Blood pressure screening:
    • Have your blood pressure checked every 2 years unless it is 120-139/80-89 Hg or higher. Then have it checked every year.
    • Watch for blood pressure screenings in your area. Ask your health care provider if you can stop in to have your blood pressure checked. Check your blood pressure using the automated machines at local grocery stores and pharmacies.
    • If the top number (systolic number) is greater than 130 or the bottom number (diastolic number) is greater than 85, call your doctor.
    • If you have diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems, or certain other conditions, you may need to be monitored more closely.
  • Cholesterol screening:
    • Women over age 44 should be checked every 5 years.
    • If you have diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems, or certain other conditions, you may need to be monitored more closely.
  • Colon cancer screening: People between the ages of 50 and 80 should be screened for colorectal cancer. African-Americans need to start screening at age 45. This may involve:
    • A stool test done every year.
    • Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years along with a stool guaiac test.
    • Colonoscopy every 10 years.
    • Double-contrast barium enema.
    • Computed tomographic colonography (virtual colonoscopy).
    • People with risk factors for colon cancer such as long-standing ulcerative colitis, personal or family history of colorectal cancer, or history of large colorectal adenomas may need a colonoscopy more often.
  • Dental exam:
    • Go to the dentist every year for an exam and cleaning.
  • Eye exam:
    • If you have vision problems, continue to have an eye exam every 2 years.
    • Everyone (with or without eye problems) should begin to have regular eye exams every 2 years after age 40.
    • Once you turn 45, make sure that you have tonometry done to check for glaucoma.
  • Immunizations:
    • You should receive a flu vaccine every year after age 50.
    • Ask your doctor if you should get a vaccine to reduce your risk of pneumonia.
    • You should have a tetanus-diphtheria booster vaccination every 10 years.
    • A shingles or herpes zoster vaccination may be given once after age 60.
  • Physical exam:
    • Have a physical exam every 1-5 years.
    • Your height, weight, and body mass index (BMI) should be checked at each exam.
    • Routine diagnostic tests are not recommended.
  • Breast exams:
    • Women may do a monthly breast self-exam.
    • Women should contact their doctor immediately if they notice a change in their breasts, whether or not they do self exams.
    • A complete breast exam should be done by a health care provider every year.
  • Mammograms:
    • Women over the age of 40 should have a mammogram done every 1-2 years depending on risk factors to check for breast cancer.
  • Osteoporosis screening:
    • All postmenopausal women with fractures should have a bone density test (DEXA scan).
    • Women under 65 who have risk factors for osteoporosis should be screened.
  • Pelvic exam and Pap smear:
    • Pap smears should be done once every 2 years.
    • Pelvic exams may be done more often to check for other disorders.
    • If your Pap smears have been normal for 3 times in a row, your doctor may tell you that you only need a Pap smear to every 3 years.
    • Women who have had a total hysterectomy (uterus and cervix removed) may choose not to have Pap smears.
    • Women who are sexually active should be screened for chlamydia infection. This can be done during a pelvic exam.

References

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for Chlamydial Infection. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; 2007.

Smith RA, Cokkinides V, Brawley OW. Cancer screening in the United States, 2008: a review of current American Cancer Society guidelines and cancer screening issues. CA Cancer J Clin. 2008;58(3):161-179.

Gaziano JM, Manson JE, Ridker PM. Primary and secondary prevention of coronary heart disease. In: Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 45.

American Diabetes Assocation. Standards of medical care in diabetes -- 2008. Diabetes Care.2010 Jan;33 Suppl 1:S11-61.

National Osteoporosis Foundation. Clinician's Guide to Prevention and Treatment of Osteoporosis. Accessed Feb. 22, 2008.


Review Date: 5/18/2010
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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