Q: Dear Dr. R,
I am a busy restauranteur and mother, in my mid 30’s. My time is fully devoted to my family and business. Having 2 active sons and a demanding business, I rarely have time for myself and when I do, I spend it for my little pleasures – spa, mani-pedi and massages. I am guilty of not going to my doctor for the past 5 years. At my age, what kind of physical exams do I need, and how frequent should I go to my doctor?
Letter from Dr. R…
Dear Busy Carla,
Most women are either busy in their careers and busy taking care of their families that often times, one neglects one’s health . Massages and your little pleasures are important in stress relief, which is essential for health. As important as managing stress, however, prevention is key. Preventive Health is one of the basic essentials of quality healthcare today. Its goal is to avoid the occurrence of diseases and to diagnose and treat them in early stages. This circumvents significant morbidity and death. Your first and most important tool towards prevention of diseases is having a screening test. One of the major thrusts of preventive health is to address the two leading causes of deaths: Cardiovascular Diseases and Cancer.
Here are the Health Screening Checklists Every Woman Should Know
- For Ages 20 to 45 years old
- For Ages Greater than 45 years old
The following screenings are recommended for ages 20 to 45 years old: Screenings for Cardiovascular Disease:
- Hypertension Screening – Hypertension alone increases risk for Coronary Artery disease, Kidney failure and Stroke. People as young as 18 years old – as per recommendation of USPSTF(U.S. Preventive Services Task Force).
- Lipid Panel Screening – This screening determines your good and bad fat content (i.e. good and bad cholesterol). The more good fat, the better for your body. Generally men older than 35 years and women 45 years and older should have this screening. People even less than 35 years with increased risk for abnormal fat level due to history of Familial Dyslipidemias or with Diabetes Mellitus are recommended to take this screening. People with obesity from 20 to 35 years old for men and women from 20 to 45 years old should take this screening as well.
Screenings for Cancer
- Mammogram – This screening helps detect breast cancer. Women from 40 years old and above should have this screening every 2 years.
- Pap Smear – Pap Smear test helps detects cervical cancer. Women who are sexually active or 21 years and older, should take this health check every 3 years (if previously normal).
Screenings for Diabetes Mellitus Screenings for Diabetes tells you if you have uncontrolled blood sugar, which can lead to heart, kidney, liver, brain complications, and even death. Adults with blood pressure more than 135/80 must undergo this test. Screenings for Sexually-Transmitted Infection Screening Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that can cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease that can lead to infertility. It has also been shown to increase the risk for cervical cancer. Women infected with Chlamydia often have no symptoms. They usually are unaware that they are infected unless tested. It is easily spread by sexual contact. Sexually active women and women with previous Chlamydia infection must have this screening. Immunizations
- Streptococcus pneumonia (Invasive Pneumococcal Disease) is a major cause of illness and death in the United States. PPSV23 (23 serotypes) and PPSV 13 (13 Serotypes) are forms of Pneumoccocal Vaccination. PPSV23 should be given to people as young as 19 years old with asthma, Chronic Heart Disease, Chronic Lung Disease, Cigarette smoking, Diabetes, alcoholism and Chronic liver disease. Both PPSV23 and PPSV13 should be given to individuals with CSF leak, Cochlear implants, Asplenia (functional or anatomic) or any other immunocompromising conditions such as HIV, general malignancy or Chronic Renal Failure .
Primary Prevention Counseling Prevention is better than cure, and getting counseling is one of the first few steps in working towards your health. Admitting you have a problem and you need help is pivotal in recovery.
- Tobacco Cessation Counseling – Smoking increases the risk for lung cancer, heart diseases, and other organ diseases.
- Alcohol Abuse Counseling – Alcohol abuse leads to dependency, major organ failure/diseases and psychological and psychiatric issues
- A person with a BMI (Body Mass Index) greater than 30 is considered obese. Obese people are more prone to heart, endocrine, liver and pulmonary diseases.
- People with untreated depression are more prone to conditions such as failure to thrive, suicide (third leading cause of death for those aged 15 to 24) and inability for self care.
Parental depression have shown to have detrimental rippling effects on their children (disruptive behavioral problems, increase risk for depression, decreased cognitive performance and lower social competence)
Screenings for Cardiovascular Disease:
- Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening – For male smokers ages 65 to 75 y/o
- Hypertension Screening
- Lipid Panel Screening
- Aspirin for Primary Prevention – Men who are 45 to 79 years old and women from 55 to 79 years old (consider GI bleeding risk)
Screenings for Cancer:
- Mammogram (Every 2 years)
- Pap Smear (Every 3 years if previously normal) – sexually active women until 65 years old should take this screening
- Colorectal Screening (Colonoscopy/Sigmoidoscopy/Stool Guaiac) – 50 to 75 y/o (or earlier if with family history)
- Influenza (Annually)
- Starting 50 years old, Herpes Zoster (Once Only)
- Starting 60 years old if negative titersc. Pneumoccocal
- Starting at 65 years old
- 45 to 64 years old (Higher Risk)
- Tobacco Cessation
- Alcohol Abuse Screening
- Obesity Screening
- Depression Screening
Written By: Dr. Reagan graduated medical school from University of Santo Tomas. He completed residency at a Mount Sinai/New York University Internal Medicine program in New York. He is currently working currently as a Hospitalist.
Disclaimer: The medical information on this site is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. Please consult your physician before starting on any of these screenings.