Have your blood pressure checked annually (unless your doctor recommends more frequently). This can detect high blood pressure or hypertension — factors that increase your risk for heart attack, stroke and other serious health problems.
For women ages 20 and older, monthly self-exams are recommended in addition to annual clinical exams. If you are high risk, i.e. your mother or sister has had breast cancer or you have a history of breast cancer or a mutation of one of the breast cancer genes, your physician may recommend a mammogram.
Have your cholesterol checked annually, especially if you have a family history of heart disease. A cholesterol screening will measure the amount of cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood. It is recommended that you fast for 12 hours prior to the screening.
Colon and Rectal Cancer
There are several screening options for colon and rectal cancer. The best screening option should be determined by you and your doctor. For those with a family history of colon and rectal cancer (or if you have had a personal history of polyps or an inflammatory bowel disease), your doctor may recommend a colonoscopy or a flexible sigmoidoscopy starting at age 45.
Typically, colonoscopies are administered every ten years unless problems develop. Flexible sigmoidoscopies are generally performed every five years between colonoscopy procedures. These screenings are used to detect cancer and precancerous growths in the colon and rectum.
Dental checkups are recommended every six months. Not only does it promote oral health, but your dentist can detect oral cancer and spot the early signs of heart disease.
A routine eye exam is recommended every two to ten years. Eye exams are recommended more frequently if you notice a change in your vision and annually if you already wear glasses or contacts.
A high blood sugar level can be a sign of diabetes. A fasting blood glucose (sugar) screening can indicate your risk for diabetes. Other health factors can lead to an increased risk for diabetes as well. Health risks such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity and a family history can increase your risk for diabetes.
Recommended annually for women, a Pap smear will check for cancerous cells in the cervix. During the exam your doctor will check your ovaries and abdomen for masses or suspicious changes from the previous year.
For men, an annual prostate exam is recommended starting at age 50 (or earlier if you have a family history) and should include both the Prostate-Specific Antigen test (PSA) and Digital Rectal Exam (DRE). The PSA is a blood test that detects elevated levels of prostate cancer cells. The DRE is a physical exam that allows your doctor to check for changes in the prostate gland.
Have your weight, height and Body Mass Index (BMI) checked annually. Checking your weight once a month or once a week is a good idea at home, but remember to always check it at the same time for consistency. If you notice a change of ten or more pounds either way, contact your doctor for an appointment.