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Midlife Health Check: 6 Tests You Can't Skip

Unbelievably, we are mid-way through November and that is often the time when people start reviewing their health benefits coverage, set up tests, and start to use their FSA and HAS balances before the end of the year. And that is a good thing! Staying on top of our regularly scheduled visits with our GP, GYN, and dermatologist are an important aspect of our overall health maintenance.

In midlife, it is more important than ever to stay on top of these visits, as this is the most likely time chronic disease will show up. Women, however, often defer their own health concerns, especially when they are taking care of others, at this critical juncture.

After a week with my cleanse group, in which we all ate nutritious, whole food, got our rest, made sure we engaged in physical activity every day, and made time for self-care practices such as Epsom salt baths, journaling, getting a massage or a mani/pedi, I feel terrific!

And from what everyone else shared, they felt the same. I am glad we all prioritized our health, even if it was just five days! Imagine what you could do in five weeks, five months, or five years? But don’t worry, there will be a Winter Wellness cleanse, coming up in January, so you haven’t missed that opportunity to nurture yourself.

Which brings me to the notion that we need to start scheduling those tests that make an impact on our health. What are they?

The top six tests a woman should definitely get right now are:

Mammography – early detection is critical to positive outcomes for breast cancer so it is advised by the American Cancer Society to start screening annually by age 40 and get them every year up to age 54. Women who are 55 and older can opt for biannual (every two years) screening going forward. Obviously, women at risk, with a family history of breast cancer or have the BRCA gene need to follow their doctor’s recommendations for early screening and other interventions.

Colonoscopy – it used to be we scheduled this medical procedure at age 50 (again, unless there were some mitigating factors that indicate we should get checked sooner). Now, the new recommendations posted on the CDC site are for anyone aged 45 through 75 get a colonoscopy on a regular basis to check for polyps and cancer.

The types of tests are:

  • guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT) – chemical-based at-home test where you collect a small stool sample and send it out to a lab for analysis, annually.

  • fecal immunochemical test (FIT) – same procedure as above, yet it uses antibodies to detect presence of blood, annual test.

  • FIT-DNA test – the entire bowel movement is sent to the lab for blood screening and DNA testing, once every three years.

  • Flexible Sigmoidoscopy – most of us are familiar with this same-day surgical center procedure in which a flexible camera is inserted and the entire colon is checked for cancer and polyps. Depending on family history and other factors, it may be done from 5 to 10 years, with the FIT test done annually.

25-hydroxy vitamin D blood test – most of us have low levels of Vitamin D, and this can mean we need to get outside more, change our diet or it could indicate a medical condition such as Crohn’s disease, which makes it hard for the body to absorb nutrients. Chronic low levels of Vitamin D can cause osteoporosis. You are usually put on a regimen of a higher dose of vitamin D supplementation for a period of time by your doctor, if your test indicates a low level.

Hormone levels – perimenopause and menopause cause our hormone levels to shift dramatically and this affects our accumulation of belly fat, our cognitive ability as well as our ability to sleep soundly, to name a few results from hormonal imbalance. Most of the time it is estrogen dominance, but a hormone level test can determine the culprit and the appropriate actions to take to get back into balance.

Assess bone density – I can’t stress this enough. It is important to get a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry test (DEXA-scan) early to have a baseline for your bone density. You will lose bone density as time passes, yet you don’t have to get frail. The test is usually a DEXA-scan which measures calcium and minerals in the bones to determine how likely a fracture will occur. The T-score indicates either osteoporosis or its precursor, osteopenia (which is reversible).

Cardiac calcium CT scan – a CAC (or heart scan) checks your arteries for calcium deposits in your cardiac arteries. This is a predictor of the chances of heart attack.

As you can see, getting these scheduled for the first time or maintaining a regular schedule of checkups can make a world of difference for your overall health and quality of life. I hope you found this informative and if you would like to learn more weekly, subscribe.

Here are some additional tips for staying on top of your health in midlife:

  • Make sure to talk to your doctor about your individual risk factors for chronic disease and develop a personalized plan for prevention and screening.

  • Be mindful of your lifestyle choices, such as diet, exercise, and sleep, and make changes as needed to support your health.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your doctor, other healthcare professionals, or support groups.

  • Remember, your health is your most important asset. Take care of yourself!

1 commentaire

Sean Martin
Sean Martin
13 nov. 2023

How many of those situations, apply to men 😬🍇🐷🎠🌲

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