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Living a healthy life requires you to take an active role in your well-being. While that might sound self-explanatory, there are far too many people who do not take care of themselves. This goes beyond eating right and exercising. Being an active participant in your well-being requires you to visit your doctor on a regular basis.

When you’re healthy, people don’t think about going to see a doctor. It’s only when we experience discomfort that we seek medical attention. But routine health screenings can save your life. We recently reviewed different medical checkups men need during their life. Now it’s time to take a look at what screenings women need.

Blood Pressure – Sometimes referred to as a “silent killer,” high blood pressure poses multiple health risks. Dangers of high blood pressure include heart attack, coronary disease, and stroke. Women should get their blood pressure checked at least every two years by their doctor. If they can’t make it to a doctor, at the very least they should visit a local pharmacy that has a free machine.

Cholesterol Check – Women are prone to high cholesterol, just as men. Starting at the age of 20 women should get their cholesterol checked every five years.

Pap Smears – A pap smear screens for cervical cancer and is an important test for women. It’s common for women to start getting regular pap smears once they hit age 21. If the patient is sexually active before 21, then she should consult with her doctor. But for women ages 21-65, it’s recommended to get tested every three years. For women over the age of 30, pap testing every five years is sufficient. Again, to really know, consult a doctor.

Mammograms and Breast Exams – While it’s well known these exams are important to screen for breast cancer, there are varying opinions in the medical community about the frequency women need breast exams and mammograms. Typically, from the ages of 20-40, women should get a breast exam at least every three years. Starting at 40, women should get a mammogram done every one to two years.

Bone Density Screening –  Women are naturally at a higher risk for osteoporosis than men. This is because women start with less bone density than women and lose bone density more quickly as they grow older. It’s estimated that 200 million women all over the world have osteoporosis. That’s why women ages 65 and older should get screened for bone density. The frequency of these exams will vary based on your body type and risk factors. Consult with your doctor for a more accurate recommendation for frequency of a bone density screening.

Blood Glucose Test – Women should start to get their blood glucose tested at the age of 45. This test can screen for diabetes or pre-diabetes. Women under the age of 45 don’t need to be tested, unless they are showing symptoms of diabetes.

Colon Cancer Screening – Women start to get screened for colon cancer at age 50. Two traditional tests include sigmoidoscopy (for lower part of colon) and colonoscopy (full colon). As long as no problems are found, a sigmoidoscopy can be done every 5-10 years while a colonoscopy can be done every 10 years.

Living a healthy lifestyle starts with a sensible diet and regular exercise. But it goes beyond that, it’s important to be proactive when it comes to your health. Make sure you’re seeing your doctor on a regular basis and getting these essential checkups.

Image Courtesy of James Palinsad

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