We all want a long and healthy life. However, this is not always the case because our bodies, lifestyle habits, and diet change as we age. And these changes can have a significant impact on your overall health.
Various diseases do not display any symptoms and can go undetected for years. And by the time they are discovered, it’s too late as they’ve become chronic.
We’ve all had instances where we’ve heard of someone healthy today, and tomorrow they are found to be having stage 4 cancer. That’s why it’s recommended that we undergo regular health checkups from a young age. And this should be more frequent as you age, as some ailments affect us in old age.
Explained below are 13 crucial health checks that every individual must undergo. Your physician should determine the frequency after analyzing the risk factors.
1. Blood Test
A blood test is one of the most common medical tests doctors use to diagnose various conditions and diseases.
The blood test is essential because even if you don’t have heart disease, the test detects specific markers that will show whether you are at risk of developing those conditions later in life. It can also indicate whether the current medications are working as required.
Necessary health tests done through Blood analysis include:
- Blood count, including white and red blood cells, hematocrit, and hemoglobin.
- Basic metabolic panel: It checks mineral levels in your blood. These minerals include calcium, sodium, glucose, chloride, potassium, bicarbonate, creatinine, and blood urea nitrogen. Note for the test to provide conclusive results; you might be required to fast for 8 hours.
- Lipid Panel: It helps check the cholesterol levels in your system.
- Autoimmune disease: There are about 80 autoimmune diseases, and diagnosing them can be challenging as there is no one test for all. As such, it can take years for a correct diagnosis. Luckily, you can have a private autoimmune blood test done by booking online and doing it at any of the 31 Spire hospitals across the UK.
2. Heart Health Screening
Keeping a close eye on your heart health is crucial, especially if you suffer from high blood pressure or diabetes. A simple physical examination combined with a lipid profile can provide helpful information regarding your risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Your doctor may also recommend an electrocardiogram (ECG). This helps detect abnormal heartbeat rhythm patterns, which could signal health issues related to coronary arteries or cardiac valves.
A study conducted by British Heart Foundation found that approximately seven million American citizens have undiagnosed high blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart ailments or stroke.
3. Breast Health
Many assume that only women are prone to breast cancer, but it affects both men and women. However, it’s more prevalent in women. As such, women must make self-assessment part of their weekly routine. This can help you identify lumps before they become cancerous and get treated.
In addition, Both men and women must get mammograms regularly. It’s wise to note that the older you get, the more susceptible you are to ailments, so make a point of booking a mammogram every six months or yearly.
4. Blood Pressure Test
High blood pressure is called ‘the silent killer’ because it can go unnoticed until it causes significant damage. Therefore, regular checking of BP is a must for anyone who wants to stay informed about their overall well-being.
The good news is that this assessment requires nothing more than getting your arm wrapped around a sphygmomanometer cuff while taking readings from two different points. Systolic is the highest point when pulse waves reappear, and diastolic is the lowest between pulses. And the best part is you can check it at home or the nearest chemist.
5. Cancer Screening
Cancer is wreaking havoc in many homes. It comes in four stages, stage 4 being the last and hard to treat. Therefore people should get screened regularly for cancerous growths helps identify any abnormalities before they spread beyond treatable limits.
Let’s look at some of the common types of cancer.
- Cervical Cancer
This affects women and can be detected through a PAP smear, which looks at cervical cells under a microscope.
Cervical cancer screening is recommended for women between the ages 21 to 65 and is sexually active. Women between 21 and 29 should schedule a pap smear test every three years. And those above 30 to 65 should do it every five years, and an HPV test should accompany it.
- Lung Cancer Screening
If your lifestyle habit involves smoking, lung cancer screening should be necessary. This is because the carcinogenic compounds in cigarettes and vapes increase your chances of developing severe pulmonary ailments.
Lung Cancer screening involves CT scanning the chest area while the patient remains still. The test takes less than 20 minutes.
- Colorectal Cancer Screening
Colorectal cancer is prevalent in both men and women. It affects the large intestine or the rectum area. It leads to the development of polyps on the lining of the large intestines. These polyps are noncancerous. However, if not closely monitored, they can turn into malignant tumors.
The test is crucial for persons above 45 or 50. An invasive procedure requires the doctor to insert a long flexible tube into the rectum through the large intestines for conclusive results.
The test then shows whether you have irritated or swollen tissues, polyps, and colon or rectal cancer. The test takes about 30 to 60 minutes, and don’t worry; you’ll be sedated throughout the process.
6. Body Mass Index
Your body mass index is a vital metric when assessing health risks. This calculation considers your weight and height; the resulting figure shows your current body status. If your BMI falls within the healthy range, the chances of having other weight-related issues, such as diabetes and heart disease, are reduced significantly. However, if it falls outside your BMI, you must take necessary measures to lower your weight through diet and exercise.
7. Cholesterol Test
Research shows that one in three adults in the U.S. have high cholesterol. High cholesterol levels increase the risks of heart attack, stroke, inflammation, and kidney issues. Unfortunately, there are no symptoms of high cholesterol; the only way to check is through a blood test.
The doctor usually checks for four types of fats in your system. These include:
- Total cholesterol: This is the overall cholesterol in your blood.
- LDL ( Low-density Lipoprotein): Also called bad cholesterol. It’s when too much fat buildup in your blood, leading to fatty deposits in your arteries, thus reducing blood flow. Often lead to stroke or heart attack.
- HDL (High-density Lipoprotein: Also referred to as good cholesterol. It helps carry away bad cholesterol, thus ensuring smooth blood circulation.
- Triglycerides: Every time you eat, your body converts all the calories it doesn’t need into triglycerides. These fats are stored in fat cells. And when the levels are high, they lead to weight gain, craving for sweet foods, or diabetes.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends starting cholesterol screening at 9. After that, people between 9 and 11 years should have the test every five years. And older people (45-65) should have the test done annually. However, if your family has a history of coronary artery disease or is under cholesterol-lowering medication, you must have the test done more frequently.
8. Skin Test
Many of us suffer from various skin conditions, from acne, eczema, and skin cancer. Unfortunately, exposure to UV rays also renders your skin susceptible to multiple infections. And that’s why it’s recommended that you apply sunscreen when going outside.
You must book a skin screening test with your dermatologist to be safe. The test involves visual screening, where the doctor checks for moles, discoloration, and texture differences on every part of your body.
9. Blood Glucose Test
The blood glucose test helps identify type 2 diabetes. This condition is characterized by high sugar levels, which can cause irreversible damage to your organs if left untreated. This analysis measures the amount of glucose molecules already circulating bloodstream, giving your doctor an insight into your metabolism rate.
If your levels are elevated, it means that you could be having prediabetes or diabetes. As such, you must alter your lifestyle habits by eating a balanced diet, losing weight, and exercising.
People above 45 should have the test done every three years, and if you present the risk factors, have it done more frequently.
10. Mental Health
A study conducted in 2019 found that 1 in every eight people worldwide lives with some form of mental disorder. And after COVID-19, more people suffered from depression and anxiety.
Your doctor may ask questions about your feelings, thoughts, and behavior to evaluate potential problems. However, more advanced testing, such as neuropsychological examinations or mood inventories, are also available for those who need them.
Mental health disorders to screen for include:
- PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder)
- Eating disorder
11. Bone Density Index
A bone density index (BDI) test measures how much mineral content your bones contain. The test helps identify weak spots within the skeletal system before they become severe.
BDI tests are performed using Dual-energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA) scanners.
12. HIV Test
HIV test is crucial if you engage in unprotected casual sex with multiple partners. The transmission rate is high since the parties involved are not taking precautions.
An HIV test will look at antibodies within the sample and quickly provide results.
13. Reproductive System Test
Every woman over 18 should consider getting their reproductive system checked annually. This helps detect any abnormalities related to the ovaries or the uterus that might make conception challenging in the future.
There are three tests:
HSG (Hysterosalpingogram) helps check fallopian tube blockages and uterine anomalies. The test is done by injecting dye through the cervix and visual imaging via X-ray.
Internal ultrasound: Helps visualize your uterus and ovaries. And the doctor can count your ovarian follicles and detect cysts or uterine anomalies, such as fibroids and polyps.
Check the hormones: Anti-Mullerian hormone, follicle-stimulating hormones, estradiol, and luteinizing hormone. These hormones affect the quality and quantity of your eggs.
Men must also undergo reproductive health checks to ensure quality and adequate sperm count.
Prevention is better than cure. So, make a point of scheduling regular health checkups. This helps you identify ailments early, ensuring you get treated promptly. It also enables you to make the necessary lifestyle changes to ensure a long and healthy life through a better diet, exercise, and quality sleep.
Published by HOLR Magazine.