It should be no surprise that preventive care can make a huge difference for your health and wellness as you get older. Many health issues can be nipped in the bud or at least slowed down significantly if you catch them early on. But let’s face it, unless you’re a medical professional — or perhaps even if you are — you’re probably clueless about what tests and exams you actually need and at what age. Here’s a quick primer on which medical exams you should schedule once you hit 40:
Until the year 2015, the American Cancer Society recommended that all women get annual mammograms starting at the age of 40. The current recommendation is 45. However, if you have a family history of breast cancer, you should still have the test performed at 40. That said, there is a bit of wiggle room here as the American College of Physicians says that women with low to average risk for breast cancer can hold off until they are 50.
Hypothyroidism is a condition that often goes undiagnosed in the U.S., and it is most commonly found in women in their 40s and 50s. It can cause a slew of symptoms from fatigue to weight gain and even low libido. A simple blood test to check your thyroid levels can clue you into whether you may be suffering from either hypo- or the slightly less common hyperthyroidism.
Also read: 8 Medical tests you need after 50
If you’ve been pregnant before, you’ve likely had your blood pressure monitored routinely at some point, but if you don’t have children or it’s been a while since you were last pregnant, you probably have not had it checked in some time. Be sure to schedule regular check-ups with your primary care doctor, during which they will check your blood pressure.
Though 40 may seem young for menopause, some women do start experiencing symptoms of perimenopause at that age and even earlier. Having your physician check your follicle-stimulating hormone levels can clue you in on whether you are already in menopause or close to it. FSH is the hormone that controls your menstrual cycle and the production of eggs by your ovaries — low levels may indicate the onset of menopause.
Fasting blood sugar
Type 2 diabetes, which is a leading killer of women in America, becomes a much greater concern after you turn 40, though some people may become pre-diabetic earlier, since the cumulative effect of poor eating over the years may begin to take its toll at this point. However, having your blood sugar tested early and regularly can help detect a problem before it becomes unmanageable. If your levels are normal, you can have the test repeated every three years. If they are high, your doctor will likely do it more frequently as part of your health management plan.