Five Health Screenings You Need Starting at Age 50

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One of the best ways to head off illnesses and ailments as you age is through screenings to assess risk or detect early onset. If you’ve made it to the mid-century mark without a major health issue or condition, congratulations. Now’s the time to get serious about minimizing potential risks and disease prevention. You can do your part through good nutrition, exercise and wellness checks.

Comprehensive insurance companies like Health Insurance Innovations usually cover doctor recommended, routine screenings for breast cancer as well as heart disease, diabetes and high cholesterol. By age 50, your doctor should add the following five screenings to your regular preventative care.

Hypertension – This should be checked every two years if your blood pressure is normal, and yearly if your normal blood pressure reading is 120/80 or higher.

Bone density/mineral testing – This is normally done for the first time in your 40s, and every 5 years thereafter. If you haven’t had your bone density and mineral levels checked by age 50, schedule an appointment to have it done as soon as possible. If you have risk factors, it should be performed more often.

Breast cancer screenings – Most of us are aware that we should have a baseline mammogram by age 50, or 40 if you have risk factors like a family history. The baseline provides a foundation to detect changes in breast tissue during subsequent mammograms, which should be done every two years. In addition to a mammogram, you should have a clinical breast exam. This can be done when you have your mammography, but it usually performed at the same time as a pap test.

Colorectal cancer screenings – Notice that this is plural. Colonoscopy is what normally comes to mind when we think about colon cancer screenings, but there are actually several colorectal cancer screenings that should begin at age 50. The followup schedule is every five years unless you have risk factors or a family history of colon cancer. These screenings are in addition to a colonoscopy, but if any of them bring positive results, a colonoscopy should be performed after:

– CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy)
– Flexible sigmoidoscopy
– Double contrast barium enema

You should also have Fecal occult blood test (FOBT) and Fecal immunochemical test (FIT) performed annually

Diabetes screening – Diabetes screenings should be performed every three years after you turn 50. The exception is if you are obese, have a family history or if you had gestational diabetes during pregnancy.

At age 50, you should check on your immunization and boosters for:

– Flu shots, recommended yearly
– Pneumococcal, recommended for smokers, one or two doses
– Tetanus, a booster shot is needed every 10 years

Additional Recommendations

Less critical unless you have symptoms are skin cancer screenings, thyroid testing and BMI measurements. At age 40, a baseline eye exam should be conducted for future eye disease screenings. Your ophthalmologist will determine how often you should a have a complete vision screening, depending on your general health, medical history and family history of eye disease.

Most health insurance providers will cover widely recommended screenings on a set schedule, such as one mammogram every five years. If you’re not sure which health screenings are covered by your insurance, Health Insurance Innovations professionals can answer any of your questions.

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