Should you take medicines to prevent disease?
If the screening tests show problems, you can discuss with your HCP the actions you need to take to regain your health. They can vary from nothing, which is also called watchful waiting, to lifestyle changes and/or medical procedures such as an operation.
* Mammograms - Different organizations have different guidelines as to how often women should be screened for breast cancer. Talk to your doctor about when and how often you should get a screening mammogram.
* Pap tests - women should have their first Pap test to screen for cervical cancer at age 21. If results are normal and continue to be so, screening can then be done every other year. Less frequent testing may be an option as a woman gets older.
* Obesity - Have your body mass index calculated to screen for obesity. BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight.
* Cholesterol checks - Have your cholesterol checked regularly starting at age 45. If you are younger than 45, talk to your doctor about whether to have your cholesterol checked if you smoke, have diabetes or if heart disease runs in your family.
* Blood pressure - Have your blood pressure checked at least every 2 years, more often as you age. Some racial and ethnic groups have a higher risk and should discuss the issue with their HCP.
* Colorectal cancer tests - Begin regular screening for colorectal cancer starting at age 50. Your doctor can help you decide which test is right for you. How often you need to be tested will depend on which test you have.
* Diabetes tests - Have a test to screen for diabetes if you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
* Depression - If you've felt "down," sad or hopeless and have felt little interest or pleasure in doing things for 2 weeks straight, talk to your doctor about whether he or she can screen you for depression.
* Osteoporosis tests - Have a bone density test at age 65 to screen for osteoporosis (thinning of the bones). If you are between the ages of 60 and 64 and weigh 154 lbs. or less, talk to your HCP about whether you should be tested.
* Chlamydia and STD tests - Talk to your doctor to see whether you should be screened for sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV and chlamydia.
There are also some medications that have been shown to stop or at least slow down some medical problems. they include:
* Hormones - the risks of taking the combined hormones estrogen and progestin after menopause to prevent long-term illnesses outweigh the benefits. Talk to your HCP about whether starting or continuing to take hormones is right for you.
* Breast cancer drugs - If your mother, sister or daughter has had breast cancer, talk to your HCP about the risks and benefits of taking medicines to prevent breast cancer.
* Aspirin - Talk to your doctor about taking aspirin to prevent heart disease if you are older than 40 or if you are younger than 40 and have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or if you smoke.
o Stay up-to-date with your immunizations.
o Have a flu shot every year starting at age 50.
o Have a tetanus-diphtheria shot every 10 years.
o Have a pneumonia shot once at age 65 (you may need it earlier if you have certain health problems, such as lung disease).
o Talk to your doctor to see whether you need hepatitis B shots.
What else can you do to stay healthy?
* Don't Smoke - But if you do smoke, talk to your doctor about quitting. You can take medicine and get counseling to help you quit. Make a plan and set a quit date. Tell your family, friends and co-workers you are quitting. Ask for their support.
* Healthy Diet - Eat a variety of foods, including fruit, vegetables, animal or vegetable protein (such as meat, fish, chicken, eggs, beans, lentils, tofu or tempeh) and grains (such as rice). Limit the amount of saturated fat you eat.
* Exercise - Walk , dance, ride a bike, rake leaves or do any other physical activity you enjoy. Start small and work up to a total of 20-30 minutes most days of the week.
* Healthy Weight - Balance the number of calories you eat with the number you burn off by your activities. Remember to watch portion sizes. Talk to your doctor if you have questions about what or how much to eat.
* Drink Alcohol Only in Moderation - If you drink alcohol, have no more than 2 drinks a day. A standard drink is one 12-ounce bottle of beer or wine cooler, one 5-ounce glass of wine or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.