Your future self will be glad you had these health screenings.
If you’re a 40-something woman, you’ve ideally already established a relationship with your primary care doctor. It’s best to start consistent checkups for common conditions in even earlier (here are the health tests all women in their 30s need); however, if you’ve been too busy—or procrastinated—it’s time to book those appointments.
TBH, there’s a good chance you’re already doing many of these health screenings, especially if you visit the doctor for an annual wellness exam. To make sure you’re covering all your bases, here are the health screenings all women in their 40s need, according to Preeti Parikh, MD.
Get your blood pressure checked every two years if it’s normal, which is anything less than 120 over 80. For high blood pressure results, get tested every year. It’s important to remember that pregnancy, birth control, and menopause can all raise the risk of high blood pressure.
Check your cholesterol every five years if you have a risk of heart disease.
Women who are 44 years or older should get tested for diabetes every three years. Get tested sooner if you have risk factors such as high blood pressure and being overweight. For anyone with a history of gestational diabetes, the likelihood of diabetes later in life increases.
For many women, mammograms should begin in the 40s, especially if you have risk factors or a family history of breast cancer. Some groups and experts recommend waiting until age 50 to start getting mammograms depending on your breast cancer risk factors, so talk to your doctor to decide what’s right for you personally.
Get tested for colon cancer in your 40s only if you have a family history of the condition or have risk factors such as polyps or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Yep—you still need to get Pap smears and pelvic exams, especially if you are sexually active. Get these every three years—unless your Pap and HPV tests come back negative, in which case, every five years is just fine. (Here’s how to prepare for a gyno visit.)
Get skin and mole checks by a dermatologist every year. Remember that women under age 45 are disproportionately affected by skin cancer. If you spend a lot of time in the sun, these screenings are crucial.
Get a vision exam every two years or more (yes, even if you think you have perfect vision). For many women in their 40s, it becomes harder to see things up close (a condition known as presbyopia) so your glasses prescription may need to be adjusted.
Visit the dentist for a dental exam and cleaning once or twice a year.
Stay vaccinated! Get an annual flu shot and—if you’ve never had one—a Tdap vaccine. Continue getting a Td booster every 10 years.
You probably have a busy schedule, but it’s better to invest in your health now and catch potential issues before they worsen.
Preeti Parikh, MD serves as the Chief Medical Officer of HealthiNation. She is a board-certified pediatrician practicing at Westside Pediatrics, is an Assistant Clinical Professor at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and is an American Academy of Pediatrics spokesperson. She holds degrees from Columbia University and Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and has completed post-graduate training at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
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When you're a busy woman in your 40s,
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it's easy to let doctor appointments
slip from top priority.
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And keeping track of the family social
calendar can feel like it takes up all of
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your brain space.
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And your 40s are a critical time to
start or continue your preventive care.
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Certain tests can help protect against
heart disease, cancer, diabetes,
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you name it.
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Here's a rundown of the screenings I wish
all women in their 40s would prioritize.
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You should get your blood pressure tested
every two years if your number's normal.
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Which is anything less than 120 over 80.
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If your blood pressure's higher,
get tested every year.
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Remember, nearly half of all adults
with high blood pressure are women.
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Factors like pregnancy, birth control and
the start of menopause, all of which
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can be in play during your 40s, can
raise your risk of high blood pressure.
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Get your cholesterol checked every five
years if you're at risk for heart disease.
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If you're 44 or older, it's time to get
tested for diabetes every three years.
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If you have other risk factors for
diabetes, like high blood pressure or
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ask about getting tested sooner.
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Diabetes screenings are especially
important if you had
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when you were pregnant.
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Research shows women who
have gestation diabetes
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have a much higher risk of
getting diabetes later in life.
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One test we get asked about all the time,
mammograms for breast cancer.
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Some groups now say women can wait
until 50 to start getting mammograms,
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other still recommend
starting them at age 40.
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It's best to talk to your doctor
about your personal risk factors to
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see what's best.
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Colon cancer screening is another test you
should discuss with your doctor if there's
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any family history of colon cancer or
risk factors such as polyps or
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inflammatory bowel disease.
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You may wonder whether you still
need pap smears and pelvic exams.
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And the answer is yes.
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Especially if you're sexually active.
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You should get these tests every three
years, or every five if you have a Pap and
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HPV test that are negative.
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Years of sun damage can accumulate.
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Which is why mole checks and
skin cancer screening are important for
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women in their forties.
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Research shows that women under 45
are disproportionately affected by
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And rates of melanoma are on
the rise in this age group as well.
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Even if you have good vision,
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now is the time to start
getting regular eye checkups.
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You should go every two
years starting at age 40.
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You might notice it's getting
harder to see things up close now.
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This vision change is called,
Presbyopia and it will progress over time.
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You might need to start wearing glasses or
change your prescription.
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And don't neglect your teeth.
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You should go to the dentist for
an exam and cleaning at least once a year.
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Twice a year is even better.
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Finally, don't forget about vaccines.
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Your kids aren't the only
ones who need shots.
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You still need an annual flu shot,
and at this age,
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we recommend tetanus pertussis
vaccine if you've never had one.
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Otherwise, you need a tetanus
diphtheria booster every 10 years.
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Take the time for
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yourself to book those doctor's
appointments and get tested.
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Your 80 year old self
will thank you one day.
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Health screening - women - ages 40 to 64. Bethesda, MD: US National Library of Medicine, 2015. (Accessed on September 27, 2016 at https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007467.htm.)