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Your 40s: check-up checklist

Featuring content from MediResource Inc.

Check out this check-up checklist and stay on top of the tests and examinations you need all through your 40s.

  • Bone density test: When you hit your 40s, you don't need to worry too much about osteoporosis - that is, unless you fall into particular risk categories. Taking certain medications may speed bone loss, and certain medical conditions can compromise bone density as well. Ask your doctor if you are concerned about osteoporosis, especially if it runs in your family.
     
  • Diabetes screening: If you are in your 40s, you may be at risk for type 2 diabetes. Your doctor can screen your risk by testing your levels of hemoglobin A1C (a blood test that reflects your average blood glucose levels over the last 3 months) or your blood glucose levels. How often you need to be screened for diabetes will depend on your risk of diabetes. If you are overweight, your risk of diabetes will probably be higher and you should be tested earlier and/or more often. Ask your doctor how often you should be screened for diabetes.
     
  • Blood pressure and cholesterol: You're not at too much risk of elevated levels now, especially if you're following healthy heart habits like exercising regularly, eating a nutritious diet, and not smoking. Any time you go in for any health care visit, your blood pressure will be gauged, and you should get a cholesterol work-up every few years. If you fall into certain risk groups, your doctor may screen your levels more frequently or at an earlier age. You may be at risk if you have diabetes or a large waist circumference, or if you smoke.
     
  • Pap test and pelvic exam: By the time you've hit 20, you should be having routine pelvic exams and Pap tests every 2 to 3 years. Pap tests screen for cervical cancer, while the pelvic exam allows your health care provider to examine your cervix and vagina and to get a sense of the health of your uterus. Your health care provider might also look for signs of infections.
     
  • Breast exam: Breast cancer is a very common cancer among women. Your health care provider may do a clinical breast exam when you go in for your annual Pap test and pelvic exam. Ask your doctor if you should have a clinical breast exam and, if so, how often. You should also become familiar with the look and feel of your breasts so you know what's normal for you. If you fall into a high-risk category for breast cancer, your doctor may suggest you have mammograms in your 40s. Otherwise, mammograms should be done every 2 or 3 years from age 50 to 74 (your doctor will advise you if you still need mammograms after age 74).
     
  • Skin check: Anyone at any age can develop skin cancer. In addition to minimizing your risk with healthy sun habits, your health care provider should do a thorough skin check to screen for new or changed moles or marks. You can also do a skin check yourself (or with a helpful partner). Remember the letters ABCDE when looking at skin growths:
    • Asymmetry (not round)
    • Border (irregular)
    • Colour (uneven, changing, different from other moles)
    • Diameter (larger than a pencil eraser)
    • Evolving (changing in size, shape, or colour)
    If anything seems out of the ordinary or alarming, contact your doctor.
     
  • Dental check-ups: Visit your dentist for preventive check-ups and routine cleanings. The frequency of visits will really depend on individual needs, though most authorities on the subject recommend at least once or twice a year.
     
  • Eye exams: Even if your vision is 20/20, you should have your eyes examined every 1 to 2 years. After all, optometrists check for other things besides how good your vision is - like signs of glaucoma. If you have a condition like diabetes or high blood pressure, or a family history of vision problems, your optometrist will let you know if you need more frequent eye exams and check-ups.
     
  • Immunizations: You think shots are just for kids? Certain vaccinations you received as a child may need to be updated, while other immunizations are available that can protect you from needless health issues. Ask your doctor if you're due for any of these:
     
    • Get shots to protect you from measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) if you've never had the vaccination before. Should you find yourself in certain risk situations, you'd also need the MMR vaccination. Those risky situations include working in health care, attending college, and travelling to certain countries.
       
    • The tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine is recommended for anyone whose last Tdap shot was more than 10 years ago. Others who should get the Tdap include those who work in close contact with infants, those who plan on becoming pregnant, and those who have received a "dirty" wound (e.g., from a rusted nail).
       
    • Each year, get the influenza vaccine. The flu shot is especially important if you have medical conditions that put you at risk of complications from the flu.
       
    • Considering world travel? Consider being vaccinated against meningitis and hepatitis A and B, and consult with a travel clinician or your doctor in regards to other risks of particular destinations.
       
    • If you never had chickenpox as a youngster, you should get vaccinated against it now. And if you're unsure whether you did, go ahead and get the vaccination, just in case. It's a good idea to get it, too, if you're hoping to get pregnant sometime in the future and don't know if you're immune to chickenpox. Hold off, though, if you're already pregnant (or hope to be within several weeks of vaccination).
       

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2018. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/Your-40s-A-Health-Guide-for-Women