Routine blood pressure and blood cholesterol checks are important because abnormal levels usually cause no symptoms — until cardiovascular damage develops.
The same for diabetes, which can damage organs throughout the body if not diagnosed and controlled. Many people with high blood sugar don’t know it because they haven’t had an A1C test to check their level after fasting. So-called prediabetes can often be reversed with improved diet and weight loss. If it progresses to diabetes, “make sure you get your A1C checked,” Wardlaw said. “If you need medication, it can be initiated, or adjusted.”
Thyroid function tests are usually done based on symptoms or because a doctor feels a lump at the base of the neck, where the gland is located. A surprisingly varied list of symptoms, including weight loss or gain, heart flutters, severe constipation, and hand tremors, may signal thyroid problems. The American Thyroid Foundation says adults over 35 should be checked once every five years.
Bone density screening for osteoporosis, done with an X-ray called DEXA, is recommended for women at age 65 and for younger women with certain risk factors, including having a parent with a history of hip fracture. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests using the FRAX Risk Assessment tool to see if you should have a DEXA scan. A number of osteoporosis medications are available.
Shots to ward off the flu, pneumonia, and shingles are highly recommended for adults.
So, of course, is the COVID-19 vaccine. If you are hesitant, talk to a trusted doctor to understand how getting vaccinated protects you and your loved ones (including children too young to be vaccinated), while contributing to the global goal of ending the pandemic. The Twin Sister Docs have worked tirelessly to reassure and persuade their hesitant patients, even making a video with Walgreens.
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