Even the Young and Healthy Need Preventive Screenings

Doctor taking young adult male patient's blood pressure for checkup.
Do you feel healthy now? Great! But that doesn’t mean it’s OK to skip doctor’s appointments. You still need preventive screenings.

Preventive healthcare helps ward off diseases. It can also find problems early when they’re most treatable. The goal with screenings is to keep you feeling as well as you do today.

Make an appointment with your healthcare provider and find out which screenings you should receive. They may include the four listed here, which can help detect some common yet preventable diseases.

Blood Pressure
You can’t feel high blood pressure, so you probably won’t know whether you have it unless you get it checked. High blood pressure increases your risk for heart disease and stroke.

The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recommends getting your blood pressure checked starting at age 18. If it’s normal — lower than 120/80 mmHg — you may only need to have it checked every three to five years. If your blood pressure is higher than normal, your provider may check it more often.

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that can build up inside your arteries. Over time, it can contribute to the narrowing of your arteries and increase your risk for a blood clot, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

You should have your cholesterol levels checked between ages 17 and 21, and then again every four to six years. If you have an increased risk for heart disease or diabetes, your provider may check it more often. A healthy total cholesterol level is lower than 200 mg/dL. 

Body Mass Index
Body mass index (BMI) estimates how much body fat you have based on your height and weight. The higher your BMI, the greater your risk of developing certain diseases, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and some kinds of cancer.

A healthy BMI for adults is between 18.5 and 24.9. If your BMI is higher than that range, your provider may recommend that you lose weight. Losing just 5% to 10% of your weight — that’s 10 to 20 pounds if you weigh 200 pounds — might improve your health.

Cervical Cancer
There are two screening tests that can help prevent cervical cancer or detect it in its earliest stages. A Pap test checks for precancerous cells on the cervix that could become cervical cancer if left untreated. An HPV test checks for the human papillomavirus, which can cause cell changes that may lead to cervical cancer.

Experts offer different recommendations about when to start cervical cancer screenings: age 21 or 25. Talk with your provider about which test — and testing schedule — is right for you.

Do You Have MyChart Yet?
When you use MyChart, you can view test results, make appointments, and more. Get started at crh.org/mychart

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