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Prevention and early detection are the best ways to fight illness. We asked Nurse Practioner Johnny Myers about preventive steps, such as screenings and vaccinations.
Which tests do adults need yearly, and at what age should patients start getting them?
Most screenings can be done at your primary care provider’s office during a yearly exam. Adults as young as 20 should get a skin assessment, blood pressure screening, vision exam, and (men) self-testicular examination. Women should schedule a Pap smear at least every three years.
By age 30, annual tests should include a blood glucose screening for diabetes, thyroid tests to check for under or overactive thyroid, and cholesterol screenings to test for heart disease.
We recommend annual mammograms by 40; prostate and colon cancer screenings starting at 45. Bone density screenings and hearing examinations should begin at 50.
What about vaccines?
Get the flu shot yearly and a Tdap booster (which protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) every ten years. Add the shingles vaccine by 50 and the pneumonia vaccine by 65. Individuals with numerous health conditions may need to receive some of these vaccines sooner.
How does my family medical history factor in?
Preventive care plans vary from patient to patient. Individuals with a family history of heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes, and other health conditions may need screening procedures completed at a younger age.
I feel healthy. Do I still need annual screenings?
A: Screenings are designed to detect illness before you have symptoms. It is important to understand that even if you feel healthy, there could be an existing problem.
Why is early detection important?
A: Early diagnosis drastically improves patient outcomes because, at that stage, the disease hasn’t spread to other parts of the body. The last thing you want is to skip routine screenings and later discover you have a disease that could have been more easily treated if it had been found.
A Key Conversation
Talk with your primary care provider to develop a care plan that meets your needs. Don’t have a provider?
Visit ketteringhealth.org/primarycare or call 1-888-726-2372 to make an appointment.
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