A new year has begun! As we refresh our Smartphone calendars, open shiny new planners and wall calendars, and try to figure out if we're supposed to say "oh-ten," "twenty-ten" or just plain "ten," don't forget to set aside some time to schedule health appointments to keep you healthy this year.
Planning for a Healthy New Year
Has it been a while since you've had a complete check up? Do you remember when you last got a tetanus shot? Gather your physicians' phone numbers, grab your new planner, and start making calls! You can schedule all of your appointments for the year in about 15 minutes.
Taking some time now to plan for the year can keep your health where it should be: on the top of your to-do list. Based on the guidelines for women by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
, as a general rule you should:
- Schedule a general health checkup with your primary care physician every 1-2 years. This exam should include a blood pressure test, cholesterol check and mole exam.Find a primary care physician >>
- Get a flu shot each fall and have a tetanus shot once every 10 years. Find a flu shot clinic >>
- Schedule a dental visit twice per year.
- Schedule a visit to the OB/GYN yearly, including a Pap test every 1-3 years. Find an OB/GYN >>
- Have a blood glucose test starting at age 45, then every three years.
- Schedule a baseline mammogram at age 40, then once every two years. Learn more about St. Francis' accredited Breast Health Center >>
- Ask about getting a vaccine to prevent shingles starting at age 60.
At 50, have an annual fecal occult blood test, a flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years, and a colonoscopy every 10 years.
At 50, schedule a hearing test every 3 years.
- Learn more about bone density scanning >>
At 65, have a bone mineral density test and ask your doctor about getting a pneumonia vaccine, and schedule a complete eye and ear exam every 1-2 years.
Remember, these are just guidelines. Everyone's health is different and may require adjustments to these guidelines. Talk with your Primary Care Physician to develop a more customized schedule for screenings and immunizations.
Reading Between the Headlines
At the end of 2009, several studies emerged that changed long-held recommendations for scheduling mammograms and Pap tests. The first study regarding mammograms was controversial and has not been adopted by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Talk with your doctor about when to start getting mammograms, especially if you have a family history of breast cancer.
ACOG does endorse the recommendation that many women can have Pap tests once every three years rather than every year. Again, talk with your OB/GYN to see if you should be adhering to these new recommendations. Many physicians agree with this recommendation, but some women with specific issues or family histories may need to continue with annual Pap screenings.