Good health begins with preventive care. A cup of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Preventive care focuses on keeping undesirable disease away verses waiting until illness arise to act. Less than half of adults get regular check up and preventive health screenings according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The Women’s Preventive Services Initiative recommends that women receive at least one preventive care visit per year beginning in adolescence and continuing across the lifespan.
Lack of preventive screening results in delayed identification and treatment of conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer. Women wait for many reasons, common excuses including: lack of time, expensive co-pays, uncomfortable exams, feeling of good health, denial of a problem or fear of results.
Ochsner has multiple locations making it easy and convenient to schedule regular screenings and checkups with a provider. Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance plans, as well as Medicaid and Medicare, are required to pay for a variety of services with no deductibles or co-pays. Thanks to advances in technology and techniques, most screenings are relatively pain-free.
Many conditions can develop and progress without any symptoms. For example, high blood pressure, breast cancer and osteoporosis are often called “silent” conditions because they don’t exhibit any signs until they have progressed, sometimes to untreatable stages. Working with a provider to establish a baseline of health will make it easier to notice even small changes later, allowing for the detection of disease before it become serious. An annual health checkup is far quicker than long-term treatment for a disease that could have been prevented.
Here are the screenings recommended for women by the CDC, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the American Cancer Society. Based on your personal risk factors, family health history, and current symptoms, provider may recommend you have some screenings earlier, later, or more frequently.
Age 18 to 29:
Blood Pressure: Get screened at least every two years if you have normal blood pressure (below 130/85).
Cervical Cancer: Women should get a Pap test every three years beginning at age 21 until age 65.
Cholesterol: Get a baseline test in your 20s.
Age 30 to 39: Everything above, plus:
HPV: Women should begin testing in conjunction with PAP test every five years until age 65.
Cervical Cancer: PAP alone continue every three years, PAP and HPV co-testing every five years until age 65.
Cholesterol: Periodic assessment of Cardiovascular Disease risk. Measure levels every five years.
Age 40 to 49: Everything above, plus:
Blood Pressure: Start annual screenings at age 40.
Breast Cancer: Get a mammogram starting at age 40 every one to two years.
Diabetes: Women with no risk factors should be tested annually beginning at age 45.
Age 50 to 59: Everything above, plus:
Coronary Calcium: Have a baseline scan at age 55.
Lung Cancer Screening: Screen adults aged 55-80 with smoking history.
Colorectal Cancer: Begin screenings, and depending on the type of test, stool DNA annually or direct visualization screened every five to 10 years.
Age 60+: Everything above, plus:
Osteoporosis: Have a bone density or DEXA scan every two years starting at age 65.
Schedule an appointment with a provider in Women's Services at Ochsner.