Prevention is better than curation. Before it is too late to cure diseases, we, women over 40, better attend medical tests to keep our health in optimum condition. Often we do not realize that there is something wrong in our body because there are no symptoms that can be seen or felt. Though not all disease cause symptoms immediately. There are things called “Silent Killer Disease” such as high blood pressure, diabetes, coronary artery disease (CAD), fatty liver disease, osteoporosis, colon cancer, nonmelanoma skin cancer, hepatitis, and cervical cancer. Feature Picture credit to Pixabay.
What are the Important Medical Tests For Women Over 40?
1. Blood Pressure Test
Blood pressure is the pressure of circulating blood on the walls of blood vessels. When used without further specification, “blood pressure” usually refers to the pressure in large arteries of the systemic circulation. Blood pressure is usually expressed in terms of the systolic pressure (maximum during one heartbeat) over diastolic pressure (minimum in between two heartbeats). It is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). The normal resting blood pressure of an adultis approximately 120 millimeters of mercury (16 kPa) systolic, and 80 millimeters of mercury (11 kPa) diastolic, abbreviated “120/80 mmHg”.High blood pressure can lead to heart disease, kidney failure, or stroke, so it’s necessary for us to keep our blood pressure in a normal range.
Picture 1. High Blood Pressure Patient ( picture credit to free stock photos )
If we have too much cholesterol, it starts building up in our arteries (the blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart. This is called hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis. It is the starting point for some heart and blood flow problems. The buildup can narrow the arteries, make it harder for blood to flow through them and lead to dangerous blood clots and inflammation that can cause heart attacks and strokes.
The way to detect high cholesterol is through a blood test.If our LDL or “bad” cholesterol is higher than 190, we should have ourselves retested annually. If it’s lower, we can wait 5 years to do it again.
Signs of high cholesterol can be detected in several places:
Yellow fatty deposits of cholesterol, called xanthelasma (zan-the-laz-muh), can show up on the eyelids or on the skin around the eyelids.
3. Thyroid Function Test
Picture 3. Xanthelasma patient ( credit to wikimedia.org )
With a microscope, we can see cholesterol deposits in the cornea, called arcus. Normally the cornea is a clear tissue on the front of the eye, but when cholesterol deposits develop, it causes a white or gray ring to develop along the outer edge. A cornea is a natural place for cholesterol to accumulate over time, so this is a common finding in patients over 60 years old.
Picture 4. Arcus Senilis ( credit to creativecommon.org )
A piece of cholesterol, or plaque, may be seen in the arteries of the retina after dilating our eyes. If there is a small plaque in the retinal vessels of the back of the eye, it is likely that there are larger plaques in other places of the body. Large plaques increase our risk of heart attack and stroke. Hence one more reason why patients are encouraged to have their eyes dilated at their annual eye exams.
Picture 5. Anatomy of the thyroid ( credit to creativecommon.org )
The thyroid gland secretes two major hormones: triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4), which primarily influence themetabolic rateand protein synthesis, energy generation and mood.In addition, the thyroid gland may also develop several types of nodules and cancer. An underactive thyroid ( hypothyroidism ) measured via blood test, can lead to weight gain, lack of energy and depression; an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) can indicate an autoimmune disease.If our thyroid gland produces too many hormones, we may experience weight loss, high levels of anxiety, tremors, and a sense of being on a high. If we have symptoms like unexplained changes in mood, weight, sleep habits, and cholesterol level, talk to our doctors about getting our thyroids checked.
Picture 6. Thyroid Dysfunction
What are thyroid function tests?
Thyroid function tests are a series of blood tests to measure how well our thyroid gland is working.Available tests include the triiodothyronine (T3), thyroxine (T4), and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH).
4. Skin Cancer Screening
Melanoma and other skin cancers aren’t a concern only for people who use tanning beds. Fair-skinned women are at higher risk for skin cancer than people with darker skin. People who’ve had bad sunburns before age 18 and those who’ve had a close family member with melanoma are also more likely to get skin cancer. To prevent this, do a self-exam every month looking for moles that are asymmetrical, larger than a pencil eraser, or have an irregular border or color. Alert a dermatologist if moles or spots are changing, growing, or bleeding. See a dermatologist annually for a full-body exam.
Have ourselves tested annually starting at age 40, or earlier if we have a family history of breast cancer. Start screenings 10 years earlier than the age of our relative at the time of her diagnosis (so, for example, if our mom was diagnosed at age 42, we should have our first mammogram at 32).
Picture 7. Mammogram ( credit to wikicommon.org )
6. Clinical Breast Exam
The clinical breast exam may detect breast cancers missed by mammography.
7. Pap Smear
The Pap smear is a screening that detects inflammation and infection on the cervix and abnormal cells, which may signal cervical cancer. If we’ve had three consecutive “normal” pap smear results, we can wait three years between tests.
Picture 8. Pap Smear Test ( credit to wikipedia.org )
8. Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Test
The new HPV DNA test is used in women over 30 to detect the sexually transmitted infection that can cause cervical cancer. It’s performed on the same specimen taken at the time of our Pap smear. Talk to our gynos about HPV testing when we go in for our next Pap.
Picture 9. Three Steps To Prevent Cervical Cancer
9. Liver Function Test
The liver performs a number of vital functions for our body, such as :
10. Test For Colon To Detect Colorectal Cancer and Polyps
Colorectal cancer is a disease in which abnormal cells in the colon or rectum divide uncontrollably, ultimately forming a malignant tumor. The colon and rectum are parts of the body’s digestive system which takes up nutrients from food and water and stores solid waste until it passes out of the body ). Most colorectal cancers begin as a polyp, a growth in the tissue that lines the inner surface of the colon or rectum. Several factors have an association with increased risk including excessive alcohol use, obesity, being physically inactive, cigarette smoking and possibly diet.
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