4 Common Health Screenings and Who Should Get Them

One of the great blessings of living where and when we do is access to amazing medical care that our ancestors could only have dreamt of. Some of the best advances in medical care available to us now are the many types of preventative health screening that makes it possible for us to take charge of our health in unprecedented ways. With the many screenings that are currently available, though, how do you know which would be useful for you? From the thyroid disease test to vascular screening, here are some common screenings and information to help you make your decision.

Thyroid Disease Test

What Is It?

The thyroid disease test tests the function of the thyroid gland to see how well it’s working and where any markers for disease may be present. The thyroid is located in the lower front of your neck and regulates metabolism, energy, and mood. When the thyroid produces too many hormones, you can lose weight, feel anxious, or experience tremors. If the thyroid produces too few hormones, you may gain weight, feel tired all the time, and even get depressed.

Who Should Get It?

Women are far more likely to experience thyroid issues than men, and women over 60 are at the greatest risk and screening is recommended annually. You should also consider getting a thyroid disease test if you have any of the symptoms of thyroid issues and have a family history of thyroid problems, have had neck surgery, have experienced radiation treatment for cancer, have a vitamin B12 deficiency, or have Type 1 diabetes.

Vascular Sceening

What Is It?

There are actually several types of vascular screening tests available, including a carotid artery disease screening and peripheral arterial disease screening. The carotid screening is completely non-invasive and examines the blood vessels in the neck to see if they’re becoming narrower due to plaque growth, which can cause a stroke. Peripheral artery screening is also painless and non-invasive and looks for hardening of the arteries that supply blood to the legs, to see if they are constricting the flow of blood to the limbs.

Who Should Get It?

Anyone over 50 with any of the risk factors for peripheral artery disease should consider getting a scan every year. Risk factors include a family history of heart disease or stroke, high cholesterol, diabetes of any types, obesity, high blood pressure, and tobacco use. Carotid screening is recommended for those over 50, or for anyone over 40 who has two or more of the risk factors, which are a family history of carotid or coronary heart disease, smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, or obesity.

Cholesterol Screening

What Is It?

This tests takes a bit of blood from the finger and uses it to measure the cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. Cholesterol is a natural substance produced by the body, but too much LDL, or low-density lipoprotein, or too high a triglyceride level can indicate a problem.

Who Should Get It?

Most adults should consider getting screened every five years, and those with abnormal levels should get screened more often. Anyone with risk factors should consider a yearly screening. Risk factors are smoking, obesity, a diet high in refined sugar, grain, and transfats, diabetes, a family history of heart disease, or lack of exercise.

Glucose Screening

What Is It?

Glucose screening is a way of establishing whether someone is at risk to develop diabetes. It involves drinking a very sweet drink full of glucose and then having some blood drawn to test the body’s response to the glucose.

Who Should Get It?

Anyone who has the risk factors for diabetes and is over the age of 45 should consider getting the screening at least every three years. Also, gestational diabetes can occur in pregnant women, and although this is a temporary form it needs to be managed. Risk factors include any family history of diabetes, being overweight and/or physically inactive, having low HDL cholesterol levels, or having high triglyceride levels.

These are just some of the health screenings you might consider. Talk to your doctor about what’s right for you.

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April 2024
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