Preventive Medicine in Your 40s
Turning 40 is a big milestone in your life. But after the candles are blown out, the cake is cut and the party ends, the next thing you should think about is preserving your health for this new phase of your life.
When you turn 40, there are certain tests and screenings that you should start getting, or start getting more frequently. Here are the screenings you should talk to your doctor about.
Fasting Blood Sugar Test
Years of eating less-than-healthy foods, plus weight gain, can overwork your pancreas, which produces insulin. If your pancreas can’t keep up, it can lead to developing diabetes. When you’re in your 40s, you should have a fasting blood sugar test, which measures blood glucose after you haven’t eaten for at least eight hours – it’s typically the first test done to check for prediabetes and diabetes. You should plan on getting this test by the age of 45 unless your doctor recommends you getting one earlier based on your risk factors. You should have this test done at least once every three years.
Blood Pressure Check
It’s common for your blood pressure to start rising in your 40s. Getting your blood pressure checked on a routine basis will help you and your doctor detect if it starts rising, opening up the conversation for ways you can lower it. If your blood pressure is normal, you should get it checked at least every two years. If it’s borderline high, check it at least every year, or more often if your doctor recommends it.
More than 31 million American adults have high cholesterol, which can lead to heart attacks or strokes. Therefore, this is a life-saving test that is simple to get done. If you test shows you have healthy cholesterol levels, you can rest assured you’re taking care of yourself. If you find that you have high cholesterol, you can protect yourself and make life-lengthening changes to your diet, activity level and possibly take medications.
Unfortunately, you’re not a young 20-something anymore and those delicious cheeseburgers and fries don’t just get burned off by your revved up metabolism. As you age, gaining weight becomes easier and more detrimental to your health. Being overweight puts you at a high risk of diseases like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure and more. Your doctor will be able to determine whether you’re at a healthy weight or if you could stand to lose a few excess pounds. And, if you need to lose weight, your doctor will be able to consult you and how to do so in a safe, effective and healthy way.
Your vision naturally changes with age. Getting your eyes examined regularly ensures that you can read and see clearly. But it also checks for eye issues that arise with age like glaucoma and macular degeneration.
Your immunity can fade with time and vaccine recommendations change. Talk to your doctor about whether you need a tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis booster shot or pneumonia vaccine. And, all adults should get a flu shot each fall.
Screenings for Women
Breast Exam and Mammogram
Guidelines about when women should start getting mammograms vary. But age 40 is when you should talk to your doctor about when you should start getting mammograms based on your personal and family history. You should also be familiar with the look and feel of your breasts in the event that a sudden change develops.
Pelvic Exam and Pap Test
Women still need pelvic exams and Pap tests when they enter their 40s. This test not only screens for sexually transmitted diseases, but it also is the best tool to detect precancerous conditions and hidden, small tumors that may lead to cervical cancer.