As the saying goes, ‘life begins at 40,’ individuals who have reached this mighty age should have had a comfortable and enjoyable life by now. Contrary to this belief, reaching forty years old is the perfect time for various medical conditions to attack one’s body and health. As you get older, your health isn’t getting any better, and this is the time where you’ll have to exert more effort to protect your health.
Women at 40: The Health Risks and Troubles
Regardless of how much you love and cherish your health condition while you’re in your teenage and early adult years, they won’t last forever. As you reach the age of forty, there are numerous health risks and symptoms that may emerge.
While general medical examinations once every year are recommended in people of all ages, older adults and seniors with more compromised health should take their health efforts to a higher level through different routine examinations. Taking these tests and screenings will help women detect potential risks, symptoms, and existing conditions in their bodies, helping them find ways to mitigate them while it’s still early.
To keep your health in its best possible condition, take note of these five health tests that women over 40 should undergo:
Only one in 100 cases of breast cancer cases in the United States is accounted to men, which puts the 99 women at risk of the life-threatening condition. At 40 years old, it’s paramount to start your breast screenings by using mammograms.
A mammogram is an X-ray examination that utilizes low-energy X-rays to identify any abnormal masses, areas of irregular density, and calcifications in the breasts. Generally, the National Cancer Institute identifies two types of mammograms:
- Screening mammogram: Used to detect breast changes in women showing no signs and symptoms of breast cancer.
- Diagnostic mammogram: Women experiencing abnormalities in their breasts, such as pain, change in breast size and shape, thickening of the nipple, and nipple discharge, should undergo a diagnostic mammogram.
Read full article to know more about how mammogram results are interpreted to differentiate a normal breast from a potentially cancerous one. Having a mammogram at least annually is vital to find breast abnormalities before they can be detectable through physical touch.
2. Pap Smear
Technological innovation has immensely helped the medical industry, and this specific health test is one of its greatest contributions. Cervical cancer, which is a cancer in women characterized by changes of cells in the cervix, used to be the leading cause of death in American women. Thanks to Pap smear, or Pap test, more women prevent and survive cervical cancer.
In a Pap smear, your physician will obtain a sample of your cervical cells through the vaginal entry. It’s usually done along with a pelvic examination, and, sometimes, a human papillomavirus (HPV) test, as some cases of cervical cancer stems from the human papillomavirus.
Upon discovering and treating precancerous cervical cells early, a woman’s survival rate increases to almost 100%. Also, cervical cancer develops slowly, giving women more time and opportunity to detect them immediately.
Doctors recommend undergoing a Pap smear every three years if you’re aged 21 to 65, but you should take more frequent Pap tests if you have the following risk factors for cervical cancer:
- Has a sexually transmitted disease (STD)
- Has multiple sexual partners
- Has a weaker immune system
- Has a history of cigarette smoking
3. Blood Pressure Screening
Heart diseases remain the leading cause of death globally. Increasing age is listed as one of the major risks of heart conditions, alongside physical inactivity, family history, smoking, obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Regardless of the number of risk factors a woman possesses, it’s paramount to perform a comprehensive blood pressure screening every year. Not everyone experiencing high blood pressure may experience its symptoms, and it’ll be only a matter of time before it develops in several years.
A blood pressure screening uses a sphygmomanometer to examine the systolic and diastolic pressure manifested from your heartbeats. Advanced medical facilities utilize automated blood pressure machines today.
Moreover, take note of these tips to stay away from high blood pressure:
- Have your own blood pressure monitor at home and learn how to use it
- Keep yourself away from day-to-day stress
- Follow a balanced diet and maintain a healthy weight
- Be physically active
- Avoid smoking and alcohol consumption
4. Bone Density Screening
Aside from breast and cervical cancer, another medical condition prominent in the women population is osteoporosis. Your lifestyle and health habits during your previous years, starting from childhood to early adulting, contribute to your risks of developing bone disease. Unfortunately, 68% of people with osteoporosis in the US are women.
To keep your bones in check, a bone density screening is necessary for women in their 40s. This test can help diagnose osteoporosis by estimating your bones’ density and assessing how likely they are to break.
Bone density screening uses different methods and apparatuses for different bone groups. For instance, the central dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) focuses on the hip bone and spine, while bones in the heel, lower arm, wrist, and finger use any of the following peripheral tests:
- pQCT (peripheral quantitative computed tomography)
- pDXA (peripheral dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry)
- QUS (quantitative ultrasound)
5. Cholesterol Test
High cholesterol levels in the body are a significant driver of heart attacks and diseases. Although a higher percentage of men suffer and die from cardiovascular diseases, women are surprisingly at more risks for high cholesterol.
Triglycerides, a group of lipids or fat found in your blood, present more dangers in the women population because they tend to increase along with age and impending menopause. Undergoing a quick and painless cholesterol test will save your life.
A cholesterol test is an outpatient procedure where a physician will take your blood sample and analyze the following lipids in your blood and their ideal findings:
- Total cholesterol: Less than 200 mg/dL
- Triglycerides: 10 to 150 mg/dL
Living a healthy lifestyle is known to keep one’s health in tip-top condition. However, you can’t simply determine that you’re in good health by telling yourself that you don’t feel sick. In one way or another, there should be ways to measure your health, either through quantitative and qualitative methods, which are known today as health tests and examinations.
As you reach 40, add these routine examinations to your list and start making appointments with your trusted health professionals.