5 Medical Tests Everyone Over 40 Needs to Schedule Right Now
These life-saving screenings are crucial to healthy aging.
Turning 40 is a major milestone—one to celebrate and reflect on—yet for many, it can also stir fears of aging and all that comes with it.
Your health concerns may come into sharper focus in your fourth decade, leaving you wondering how to stay healthy as you get older. The good news? Taking charge now by investing in your health can come with serious lifelong benefits moving forward.
Read on to learn which key medical tests you should schedule right now to enjoy good health in your 40s and beyond.
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Beginning at age 40, all women of average risk should be screened for breast cancer using routine mammograms. However, women who have a family history of breast cancer should begin 10 years before the age their family member was diagnosed.
Similarly, women with certain genetic mutations that increase their breast cancer risk should discuss earlier screenings with their doctor. Early diagnosis is crucial to catching breast cancer in its earliest stages, when it is most treatable.
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Right now, over 37 million Americans—or roughly one in 10 adults—are living with diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in five people with diabetes do not know they have it.
The CDC recommends that all people over the age of 35 should undergo diabetes screening, which may include an A1C test, a glucose tolerance test, fasting blood sugar test, or random blood sugar test. However, if you're over 40 and haven't yet been tested, now is the time to schedule a screening.
Blood pressure testing
Over half of American adults have high blood pressure, a dangerous risk factor for stroke and heart attack. Though many doctors' offices perform blood pressure testing as part of their intake routine, you may not be tested regularly if you skip your regular checkups.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that everyone over the age of 18 should be screened for hypertension once every three to five years. However, they note that those over the age of 40 and those at increased risk of hypertension should plan on being screened annually.
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Having high cholesterol can spike your risk of cardiovascular disease. However, there are no symptoms associated with high cholesterol, meaning the only way to become aware of the problem is to be tested for it.
Though the CDC says that even children and adolescents should have their cholesterol levels checked, many people don't undergo this type of testing until later in life.
If you are over 40 and are unaware of your cholesterol levels, now is a great time to ask your doctor about screening. Healthy adults should plan on having their cholesterol tested every four to six years, though people with heart disease, diabetes, or a family history of high cholesterol should ask their doctor about being screened more frequently.
An important tool used for colon cancer screening, a colonoscopy allows your doctor to look for cancer-causing polyps or other abnormalities in the colon. While people at average risk of colon cancer can begin screenings at the age of 45, those with a family history of this cancer type should begin getting colonoscopies at 40, or 10 years before their family member's age of diagnosis.
Speak with your doctor to learn more about which medical tests may benefit you in your 40s, especially regarding any conditions of which you have a family history.