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Health Checkups Across All Age Groups For Women: What You Should Know

With so many activities that women balance in day-to-day life, staying on top of their health is a priority.

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Women are the backbone of any society. Transcending their age-old roles of being just homemakers, they have, with time, covered more ground. Women are making a mark in their careers, undertaking financial responsibilities, and juggling multifarious roles. However, amidst all this, a lot of things also take a backseat. Due to their inherent empathetic nature, women are often engaged in taking care of those around them but in the process ignore themselves and their health – even missing routine health checkups, unless situation demands a visit to the clinic. 

A survey conducted on over 1000 women revealed that 63% of them went for a health checkup only when unwell. Women are as prone health conditions such as heart diseases and diabetes as men. However, given the fact that the symptoms may vary in them or that they ignore the signs often becomes detrimental to their health. It is thus important that, starting from the age of 30, women must get certain preventive checkups done in order to identify any issues at the early stage or just as a measure to prevent any impending health complication.

Blood pressure

Women above the age of 30 should keep a tab on their blood pressure levels. Starting at the age of 30, it is important to get a blood pressure reading every one to two years. High blood pressure or hypertension is a silent killer and often, women do not show apparent symptoms. It is defined as a repeatedly elevated blood pressure exceeding 140 over 90 mmHg and can lead to heart disease and stroke over time. A preventive screening is therefore a must, particularly in women who have a family history of the condition. Apart from this, women should also make certain changes to their lifestyle including eating healthy, exercising regularly and not to put on excessive weight. 

Breast exam and mammogram

A breast exam should be undertaken periodically and more so if there is a family history of the condition. This will help identify any abnormalities so that action can be taken. A breast examination can be started at the age of 40 in women and continued till later stages. Women must learn to undertake a self breast examination at home. One should watch out for any pain, tenderness, lump, thickening, or discharge as also the position and direction of the nipple. If anything is amiss, it is better to contact a specialist. 

Cholesterol screening

This screening is a must once in every five years starting between the ages of 20 and 45.It is a must in women who have gained weight over time or those with possible risk factors. A test called lipid profiling indicates the levels of good and bad cholesterol along with triglycerides and total cholesterol. High amount of cholesterol can get accumulated in the blood vessels and affect the heart and brain too. This test requires complete fasting for 12 hours. For those with a preexisting cholesterol issue, a screening must be done every 6 months. 

Colorectal cancer screening

A history of polyps, inflammatory bowel disease or a close family history of polyps and/or colorectal cancer make this screening important. This should be done annually and more regularly in women between the ages of 50 and 75. While colonoscopies can be done every 10 years, other tests would need to be carried out more often.

Diabetes screening

For those with a blood pressure above 135/80 mm Hg and/or your body mass index over 25, an annual diabetes screening is a must. This will help in taking preventive action and avoid any associated complications.Pregnant women undergo a test to check for gestational diabetes, a condition which can lead to Type 2 diabetes later if not managed. Women over the age of 30 should make some basic lifestyle changes such as consuming a balanced and healthy diet and undertaking regular physical activity. 

Osteoporosis screening

Women begin to lose bone strength after the age of 40. Many develop a condition called osteoporosis, which is a degenerative disease of the bones making them weak and brittle.It can accelerate after menopause due to a decline in estrogen levels – the latter is responsible for protecting bones. Osteoporosis screening is carried out through the bone mineral density test,a specialized X-ray that screens the spine, hips, and wrists. It is recommended at least once in women post menopause or in those who have had a fracture. It is also advisable to have this test once in 5 years after the age of 35.

Pelvic exam and cervical cancer screening

Pap smear is a test done to detect cervical cancer and is recommended every three years over the age of 30. If previous tests have been normal, then a Pap smear and HPV test should be undertaken every five years. The gynecologist also carries out a complete pelvic examination during this test. Women over 65 years of age can stop getting a Pap smear if they have had three negative results previously. 

Apart from the above tests, there are other basic ones including height, weight, and body mass index; testing for symptoms of depression or other concerns; a dental exam which should be carried out once or twice in a year; hearing tests in older women; and eye examination, especially in those with diabetes. Women should also undergo regular immunization as per schedule as it can help in protecting them against various communicable disease such as influenza and hepatitis. 

In conclusion

With so many activities that women balance in day-to-day life, staying on top of their health is a priority. Not only will it help keep them fit and healthy but also ensure that they are able to work and manage things with more enthusiasm and energy. Health checkups not only help identify diseases but are also a gateway to prevent them from occurring. Family members too have a responsibility towards ensuring better health for the women in their house and encouraging them to take preventive health screenings regularly.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Dr M Udaya Kumar Maiya

An acclaimed oncologist, Dr Udaya Kumar Maiya is the Medical Director at Portea Medical, India's pioneering home healthcare company

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