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.
Dr. Parikh, a board-certified pediatrician affiliated with The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, is HealthiNation's chief medical editor.
00:00:00,000 --> 00:00:04,474
00:00:04,474 --> 00:00:06,802
When you're a busy woman in your 40s,
00:00:06,802 --> 00:00:10,441
it's easy to let doctor appointments
slip from top priority.
00:00:10,441 --> 00:00:14,576
And keeping track of the family social
calendar can feel like it takes up all of
00:00:14,576 --> 00:00:15,602
your brain space.
00:00:15,602 --> 00:00:21,525
And your 40s are a critical time to
start or continue your preventive care.
00:00:21,525 --> 00:00:25,797
Certain tests can help protect against
heart disease, cancer, diabetes,
00:00:25,797 --> 00:00:27,210
you name it.
00:00:27,210 --> 00:00:30,692
Here's a rundown of the screenings I wish
all women in their 40s would prioritize.
00:00:32,110 --> 00:00:36,260
You should get your blood pressure tested
every two years if your number's normal.
00:00:36,260 --> 00:00:38,780
Which is anything less than 120 over 80.
00:00:38,780 --> 00:00:42,601
If your blood pressure's higher,
get tested every year.
00:00:42,601 --> 00:00:46,770
Remember, nearly half of all adults
with high blood pressure are women.
00:00:46,770 --> 00:00:50,960
Factors like pregnancy, birth control and
the start of menopause, all of which
00:00:50,960 --> 00:00:55,360
can be in play during your 40s, can
raise your risk of high blood pressure.
00:00:55,360 --> 00:00:59,584
Get your cholesterol checked every five
years if you're at risk for heart disease.
00:00:59,584 --> 00:01:05,520
If you're 44 or older, it's time to get
tested for diabetes every three years.
00:01:05,520 --> 00:01:09,160
If you have other risk factors for
diabetes, like high blood pressure or
00:01:09,160 --> 00:01:13,030
ask about getting tested sooner.
00:01:13,030 --> 00:01:15,750
Diabetes screenings are especially
important if you had
00:01:15,750 --> 00:01:18,610
when you were pregnant.
00:01:18,610 --> 00:01:21,320
Research shows women who
have gestation diabetes
00:01:21,320 --> 00:01:24,740
have a much higher risk of
getting diabetes later in life.
00:01:24,740 --> 00:01:29,990
One test we get asked about all the time,
mammograms for breast cancer.
00:01:29,990 --> 00:01:34,140
Some groups now say women can wait
until 50 to start getting mammograms,
00:01:34,140 --> 00:01:36,840
other still recommend
starting them at age 40.
00:01:36,840 --> 00:01:40,310
It's best to talk to your doctor
about your personal risk factors to
00:01:40,310 --> 00:01:41,290
see what's best.
00:01:42,410 --> 00:01:46,120
Colon cancer screening is another test you
should discuss with your doctor if there's
00:01:46,120 --> 00:01:50,230
any family history of colon cancer or
risk factors such as polyps or
00:01:50,230 --> 00:01:51,760
inflammatory bowel disease.
00:01:52,790 --> 00:01:56,330
You may wonder whether you still
need pap smears and pelvic exams.
00:01:56,330 --> 00:01:57,310
And the answer is yes.
00:01:58,630 --> 00:02:00,586
Especially if you're sexually active.
00:02:00,586 --> 00:02:04,753
You should get these tests every three
years, or every five if you have a Pap and
00:02:04,753 --> 00:02:07,010
HPV test that are negative.
00:02:07,010 --> 00:02:09,320
Years of sun damage can accumulate.
00:02:09,320 --> 00:02:13,000
Which is why mole checks and
skin cancer screening are important for
00:02:13,000 --> 00:02:14,920
women in their forties.
00:02:14,920 --> 00:02:19,020
Research shows that women under 45
are disproportionately affected by
00:02:19,020 --> 00:02:20,480
00:02:20,480 --> 00:02:24,910
And rates of melanoma are on
the rise in this age group as well.
00:02:24,910 --> 00:02:26,660
Even if you have good vision,
00:02:26,660 --> 00:02:30,020
now is the time to start
getting regular eye checkups.
00:02:30,020 --> 00:02:33,420
You should go every two
years starting at age 40.
00:02:33,420 --> 00:02:37,260
You might notice it's getting
harder to see things up close now.
00:02:37,260 --> 00:02:42,400
This vision change is called,
Presbyopia and it will progress over time.
00:02:42,400 --> 00:02:45,516
You might need to start wearing glasses or
change your prescription.
00:02:45,516 --> 00:02:47,936
And don't neglect your teeth.
00:02:47,936 --> 00:02:51,870
You should go to the dentist for
an exam and cleaning at least once a year.
00:02:51,870 --> 00:02:53,930
Twice a year is even better.
00:02:53,930 --> 00:02:55,980
Finally, don't forget about vaccines.
00:02:55,980 --> 00:02:58,610
Your kids aren't the only
ones who need shots.
00:02:58,610 --> 00:03:01,250
You still need an annual flu shot,
and at this age,
00:03:01,250 --> 00:03:05,170
we recommend tetanus pertussis
vaccine if you've never had one.
00:03:05,170 --> 00:03:08,950
Otherwise, you need a tetanus
diphtheria booster every 10 years.
00:03:08,950 --> 00:03:09,926
Take the time for
00:03:09,926 --> 00:03:13,800
yourself to book those doctor's
appointments and get tested.
00:03:13,800 --> 00:03:16,471
Your 80 year old self
will thank you one day.
00:03:16,471 --> 00:03:19,419
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.)