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Medical Checks You Should Do When You Hit Forty

As we grow older, our bodies require more care and support. Even if you feel fine, when you hit 40, you should see your doctor for regular check-ups. These visits can help you avoid problems in the future. Some conditions like hypertension are “silent” in the early stages, but are better managed and have better outcomes when diagnosed and treated early.

Blood pressure exam. Photo: Jay Harold

The following are tests and conditions you should talk to your doctor about so you can plan and schedule visits to prevent them:

Blood pressure screening
High blood pressure (hypertension) can cause a heart attack, a stroke, eye problems and kidney problems without you knowing. Have your blood pressure checked every year.

Cholesterol and heart disease screening
If you are 40 or older, ensure you get checked every three years.

Diabetes screening
You can do this yearly or at least every three years. If you are overweight, you should be screened long before you reach age 40.

Colorectal cancer screening
People under age 50 should be screened if they have a strong family history of colon cancer, polyps or inflammatory bowel disease. If you are between ages 50 to 75, you should be screened for colorectal cancer.

Dental exam
Go to the dentist once or twice every year for an exam and cleaning. Your dentist will check if you have a need for more frequent visits.

Get dental care. Photo: Guard Your Health

Eye exam
Have an eye exam once every year or two when you reach 55. It’s also important to get regular eye exams to monitor eye health. Eye conditions like glaucoma and cataracts become more of a risk as well as trouble with vision.

Physical exam
Your height, weight and body mass index (BMI) should be checked at every exam because it becomes harder to lose weight from there on. During your consultation session, your doctor may ask you about depression, diet, exercise, alcohol and tobacco use.

Check your blood pressure. Photo: Blanjo

Lung cancer screening
Annual screening for lung cancer is recommended in adults aged 55 and above. This is especially for those who currently smoke, have been smoking for about 30 years or have quit within the past 15 years.

Breast exam for women
Women may do a monthly breast self-exam or a yearly clinical breast exam. When you hit 40, your chance of a breast cancer diagnosis increases. Women aged 40 to 60 may have a mammogram every one to two years, depending on their risk factors, to check for breast cancer.

Pelvic exam and Pap smear for women
You should have a Pap smear and human papillomavirus (HPV) test every three to five years.

Prostate cancer screening for men
Most men aged 50 or older should discuss screening for prostate cancer with their doctor. Black men and those with a family history of prostate cancer in a first-degree relative younger than age 60 should discuss screening earlier.

Other conditions to be screened for will be determined after consulting your doctor. This is based on risk factors or symptoms you may have including screening for skin cancer, oral cancer, sexually transmitted diseases and alcohol abuse.

If you have high cholesterol levels, diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems or certain other conditions, you may need to get checked more often.

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