Preventive health screenings can detect disease in the early stages when it is treatable.
You know your body better than anyone else. Always tell your doctor or nurse about any changes in your health, including vision and hearing. Ask about being checked for any condition not just the ones listed here. Please also see our quick guide to important screenings for women.
Ask your health care team whether a mammogram is right for you based on your age, family history, overall health, and personal concerns.
Have a screening test for colorectal cancer starting at age 50. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, you may need to be screened earlier. Several different tests can detect this cancer. Your doctor can help you decide which is best for you.
Have a PAP smear every one to three years if you are 21 to 65 years old and have been sexually active. If you are older than 65 and recent PAP smears were normal, you do not need a PAP smear. If you have had a hysterectomy for a reason other than cancer, you do not need a PAP smear.
Your emotional health is as important as your physical health. Talk to your doctor or nurse about being screened for depression especially if during the last two weeks:
- You have felt down, sad, or hopeless.
- You have felt little interest or pleasure in doing things.
Diabetes (Type 1, Type 2)
Get screened for diabetes type 1 or type 2 if your blood pressure is higher than 135/80 or if you take medication for high blood pressure. Diabetes type 1 or type 2 (high blood sugar) can cause problems with your heart, brain, eyes, feet, kidneys, nerves, and other body parts.
High Blood Pressure
Starting at age 18, have your blood pressure checked at least every 2 years. High blood pressure is 140/90 or higher. High blood pressure can cause strokes, heart attacks, kidney and eye problems, and heart failure.
Starting at age 20, have your cholesterol checked regularly if:
- You use tobacco
- You are obese
- You have diabetes type 1, type 2 or high blood pressure
- You have a personal history of heart disease or blocked arteries
- A man in your family had a heart attack before age 50 or a woman, before age 60
Osteoporosis (Bone Thinning)
Have an osteoporosis screening test at age 65 to make sure your bones are strong. If you are younger than 65, talk to your health care team about whether you should be tested.
Overweight and Obesity
The best way to learn if you are overweight or obese is to find your body mass index (BMI).
A BMI between 18.5 and 25 indicates a normal weight. Persons with a BMI of 30 or higher may be obese. If you are obese, talk to your doctor or nurse about seeking intensive counseling and getting help with changing your behaviors to lose weight. Overweight and obesity can lead to diabetes type 1 or type 2 and cardiovascular disease.
Sexually Transmitted Disease
Sexually transmitted diseases can make it hard to get pregnant, may affect your baby, and can cause other health problems. Have a screening test for Chlamydia if you are 24 or younger and sexually active. If you are older than 24, talk to your health care team about being screened for Chlamydia. Ask your doctor or nurse whether you should be screened for other sexually transmitted diseases.
Talk with your health care team about HIV screening if any of these apply to you:
- You have had unprotected sex with multiple partners
- You have sex with men
- You use or have used injection drugs
- You exchange sex for money or drugs or have sex partners who do
- You have or had a sex partner who is HIV-infected or injects drugs
- You are being treated for a sexually transmitted disease
- You had a blood transfusion between 1978 and 1985
- You have any other concerns
If you are 55 or older, ask your health care team if you should take aspirin to prevent strokes.
Breast Cancer Drugs
If your mother, sister, or daughter has had breast cancer, talk to your doctor about whether you should take medicines to prevent breast cancer.
Estrogen for Menopause (Hormone Replacement Therapy)
Do not use estrogen to prevent heart disease or other diseases. If you need relief from symptoms of menopause, talk with your healthcare team.
Take Steps to Good Health
Be physically active and make healthy food choices. Talk to your doctor or learn more at HealthFinder.gov.
Get to a healthy weight and stay there
Balance the calories you take in from food and drink with the calories you burn off by your activities. Talk to your doctor about weight loss and good nutrition.
- Get a flu shot every year
- If you are 65 or older, get a pneumonia shot
- Depending on health problems, you may need a pneumonia shot at a younger age or need shots to prevent diseases like whooping cough or shingles
Talk with your healthcare team about whether you need vaccinations
For tips on how to quit, go to SmokeFree.gov. To talk to someone about how to quit, call the National Quitline: 1-800- QUITNOW (784-8669). If you drink alcohol, have no more than one drink per 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.
This information is based on research from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF).