Regular health screenings are important, but there are certain medical checkups that you may not even be aware of – tests that may actually save your life. In many cases, they have warned patients about illnesses, helping them prepare for what could be, and even prevent them from getting the disease entirely. High blood pressure, cholesterol and sleep apnea are just some of the many conditions for which you should be tested. Take charge of your health and make an appointment with your physician to discuss what tests you need and when you may need them.
It measures the pressure in your arteries as your heart pumps. You don’t want it to be too high. In some cases high blood pressure is genetic, and thus out of your control. In other cases, high blood pressure can be due to an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise and stress. It is one of the major causes of heart attack and stroke. You are also at high risk for kidney damage, and peripheral artery disease.
Fibrinogen tests are used to determine the level of fibrinogen, a protein present in blood plasma and is essential for blood clot formation. Lack of fibrinogen can potentially prevent blood clots from forming, resulting in excessive bleeding. This is a simple blood test and has been proven to also evaluate your risk for cardiovascular disease.
Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition. It’s not just lack of sleep; it’s the complete absence of REM sleep, which is the actual restful sleep cycle you need. The subsequent stress on the body is enormous. It sparks a vicious cycle where you are left feeling tired, slowing your metabolism, and playing tricks with your hormones. An estimated 18 million Americans have sleep apnea, which is often associated with people who are overweight, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
C-reactive protein has been shown to correlate with the risk of heart disease. This is a simple medical test – your doctor will test your blood for CRP to find out if you have an indication of increased inflammation in your body. The greater your CRP the higher chances you have for cardiovascular disease.
A pap smear is a medical test for cervical cancer. It tests for the presence of cancerous cells. Women after the age of 21 are advised to get tested. If a pre-cancer is found it can be treated, stopping cervical cancer before it really starts. Most invasive cervical cancers are found in women who have not had regular Pap tests, according to the American Cancer Society.
Even if you don’t have any issues with your eyes, it’s important to schedule regular visits with your eye doctor. He or she may detect an issue that you didn’t even know you had. They may also see other signs of health related issues, such as diabetes, just by looking into your eyes. Diabetes affects blood vessels throughout the body, primarily in the eyes and kidneys.
A full skin exam by a dermatologist or medical professional is one of the best approaches for detecting skin cancer, Dr. Adam Mamelak, FRCPC, FACMS from Sanova Dermatology, says. “Detecting skin cancer in its early stages can save your life. Once a cancer has progressed and spread, it is more difficult to treat with much poorer and outcomes.” A person with normal skin, with no specific issues and no family history of melanoma or other skin cancers should undergo such exam once a year.
These tests are used to ensure your heart is healthy and functioning properly. Some of them include chest X-rays, exercise stress test, electrocardiogram and echocardiogram. Research has indicated that they obtain images related to the function and structure of the heart as opposed to invasive techniques that require catheters to be inserted into the heart. The tests are used to detect heart conditions such as coronary artery disease and abnormalities that impair the ability of the heart to pump blood.
Too much cholesterol in your blood can cause a plaque buildup on the walls of your arteries, resulting in the blockage of blood flow. High (bad) cholesterol has many bad effects on the body. Knowing if you have high cholesterol can be tricky because it doesn’t have any symptoms. This is why it’s important to get your cholesterol tested. Everyone age 20 and older should have their cholesterol measured at least once every 5 years, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
Mammograms are X-rays of the breasts; they are used to look for signs of breast cancer in women. The images often make it possible to detect tumors that cannot be felt. Screening mammography can help reduce the number of deaths from breast cancer among women ages 40 to 74, especially for those over age 50, according to the National Cancer Institute.
A bone mineral density test measures how much calcium and other types of minerals are in an area of your bone, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. The test will help your doctor diagnose bone loss, detect osteoporosis and help predict your risk of bone fractures.
A pelvic exam can be helpful because it can find some cancers at an early stage. In addition to it, there are two tests that are used to detect ovarian cancer - TVUS (transvaginal ultrasound) and CA-125 blood test, according to the American Cancer Society. TVUS uses sound waves to look at the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries.
Cardiac CTA is useful in non-coronary applications, including evaluation of the thoracic aorta, cardiac valves and other aspects of cardiac morphology that may require surgical or percutaneous repair, the National Institutes of Health says. Doctors use it to help diagnose coronary artery disease or heart artery blockages, and estimate the possible future risk of having a heart attack.
The endoscopic examination is used to discover changes or abnormalities in the large intestine and rectum. The test is effective in the diagnosis and/or evaluation of various GI disorders such as colon cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, bleeding, change in bowel habits, abdominal pain, obstruction and abnormal x-rays or CT scans, according to American College of Gastroenterology.
Some forms of cancer cannot be screened for; some grow for long before they cause pain, others very rapidly; people don’t go for annual checkups because they are scared of the potential results or don’t have insurance; false negatives; and non-specific warning signs. Whether non-definitive symptoms indicate cancer depends on the patient’s age, medical and family history, and health habitsRoutine screening has been proven to be effective in preventing the disease.