Your Check-up Checklist

Unsure which regular health tests you need? Here are 10 we suggest you schedule today.
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1. Routine physical exam

Age to start testing: 18

Frequency: every 1-5 years

"Every woman should have a customized health maintenance routine established with the help of her primary care doctor," says Dr. Vickie Rackner, a surgeon and clinical faculty member at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

2. Blood pressure (same time as physical)

Age to start testing: 18

Frequency: every 1-5 years

High blood pressure can lead to heart disease, heart failure, stroke and kidney problems. According the American Heart Association, nearly one in three adults has high blood pressure. Because there are no detectable symptoms, high blood pressure is known as the “silent killer.”

3. Pap test (includes pelvic exam and chlamydia test)

Age to start testing: 3 years after first sexual encounter

Frequency: yearly 

Changes in the cervix are often caused by a virus called human papilloma virus (HPV), which may lead to cervical cancer. Pap tests can catch HPV in the early stages.

4. Mammogram

Age to start testing: 40, earlier if at high risk

Frequency: every 1-2 years

Women with dense breasts who are perimenopausal or who are younger than age 50 may benefit from having a digital rather than a film mammogram, which allows the image to be saved to a computer and manipulated for further evaluation.

5. Lipid profile (includes HDL, LDL and CRP)

Age to start testing: 18 if at high risk

Frequency: every 1-5 years

“If you have a family history of heart disease, you have increased risk no matter what your weight and blood pressure and should be checked starting at age 18,” says Dr. Dennis Goodman, senior cardiologist in the Scripps Integrative Medicine Department, Memorial Hospital in San Diego, CA.

6. Skin cancer screening

Age to start testing: 20-39

Frequency: every 3 years

“Tanning booths are as dangerous, or more so, than lying in the sun and should be avoided,” says Dr. Joel Schlessinger, president of the American Society of Cosmetic Dermatology and Aesthetic Surgery.

7. Thyroid function test

Age to start testing: 35

Frequency: every 5 years

“Thyroid abnormalities are common in women, can start at any age, and may lead to many health consequences if left untreated,” according to Dr. Judith Stanton, internist with Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Berkeley, CA.

8. Blood sugar test

Age to start testing: 45, earlier if at high risk

Frequency: every 3 years

“Although genetics plays a role in one's having a predisposition to type 2 diabetes, a protective healthy lifestyle remains very important,” says Dr. Allison B. Goldfine, assistant director of clinical research, Joslin Diabetes Center of Boston, MA.

9. Eye exam

Age to start testing: childhood

Frequency: yearly

“If a woman has a family history of eye disease, diabetes or poor health or is taking medications that may produce side effects, she may require more frequent eye exams,” says Dr. Elise Brisco, spokesdoctor for the California Optometric Association.

10. Dental exam

Age to start testing: childhood

Frequency: yearly

A potential link exists between periodontitis and systemic health problems such as heart disease and stroke, making regular dental checkups key in maintaining overall health, according to the American Dental Association.

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