If you’re about to turn 40, you’ve probably got more exciting plans than going for a health screening, like having a big birthday bash or going on a once-in-a-lifetime holiday. However, although you don’t have to spend your actual birthday at the clinic, you should definitely think about scheduling a health check-up some time during the year.
The human body is said to reach maturity at around our third decade. After that, our bodies will start to decline. This isn’t as scary as it sounds; the average person in their forties can still expect several decades of good health. However, they should start paying more attention to their health as this is when age-related conditions may crop up. A health screening lets your doctor assess your risk for conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes so you can make preventive lifestyle changes.
Important Health Scores You Should Know
Most twenty- or thirty-year-olds don’t even think about their cholesterol levels. However, doctors recommend regular cholesterol checks starting at 21, particularly for people with risk factors like obesity.
In your forties, it’s even more crucial to know your cholesterol level as high cholesterol is linked to stroke and heart attacks. You should also test your blood sugar level to identify your risk for diabetes. These indicators can be obtained through a simple blood test.
Other things you should know are your blood pressure, weight and BMI. Based on your cholesterol level, blood sugar level, blood pressure, weight and BMI, information on your lifestyle and medical history, your doctor will be able to tell you what your risks are, what you can do to be healthier in the future, and whether you need any other tests.
Most women know that they should be having regular Pap smears and pelvic examinations to detect cervical cancer every three years after the age of 21. After 30, some doctors also recommend an additional HPV DNA test every five years to check for HPV strains that are linked to cervical cancer.
Breast cancer screening, a concern for any woman, also becomes more necessary after 40. In addition to monthly self-examinations and yearly doctor’s examinations, women are advised to undergo annual mammograms after 45 or even as early as 40.
While a PSA blood test to predict prostate cancer risk is recommended for men over 40 with particularly high risk factors such as a family history, men with lower risk may begin screening later, at 45 or even 50. What may be recommended for men aged 40 and up, based on individual risk of cardiac disease, is a C-reactive protein blood test.
Tests You May Not Need Right Now
Health screening at forty no longer means sweating it out on the treadmill. These days, screening for cardiovascular health through EKG/ECG (Electro Cardiogram) or Exercise Treadmill Test is not recommended for people in their 40s with no heart disease symptoms.
Another dreaded test, the colonoscopy, which involves inserting a tiny camera into the intestines to look for signs of colon cancer, is generally recommended for adults after the age of 50. So if you don’t have any symptoms or risks, your doctor probably won’t recommend one yet either.
Get Up-to-date on Your Vaccinations
Your birthday plans may already include a different variety of shots, but now is also a good time to check whether your vaccinations are up-to-date. This includes your annual influenza shots and pneumonia vaccines.
A doctor’s office may be the last place you want to visit as you turn 40, but a health screening is probably the best gift you can give yourself. One memorable way to do this would be to schedule a healthcare check-up to coincide with an exotic getaway. Not only would you get to celebrate with an amazing trip, but with many experienced and reputable healthcare centres abroad, you’d also be making a good decision for your health.
Regular health screening can help us prevent various conditions or catch them while they are still easily treatable. This can make a huge difference in your quality of life over the next few decades. So while you’re thinking of ways to celebrate your ‘Big Four-O’, don’t forget to schedule that all-important healthcare check-up.