Yesterday I appeared on Weekend Today speaking about mistakes women make in their 40’s and beyond. Last week I and did an interview for iVillage on the HPV test titled, “Low-Carb Love: A guilt free guide to manhandling – without the sugarcoating”. I share with you some excerpts from both interviews including the links so you can read more.
Want to be healthy over 50? Get these tests
Dr. Marie Savard on how to avoid common medical and health mistakes
Are you between the ages of 50-60 and concerned about the tests and exams needed to maintain your health? Don’t know where to start? It’s difficult to keep up with all the latest medical breakthroughs, but not knowing what’s new or available could result in poor health decisions. Dr. Marie Savard, author of “The Body Shape Solution to Weight Loss and Wellness,” shares smart tips and recommendations on how to avoid common medical mistakes.
Routine physical exam
For women over 50, regular checkups and a few special tests can be one of the greatest gifts you give yourself. Your doctor can tell a great deal about your health by talking to you, looking at you, and examining certain areas of your body. Whether you are seeing a gynecologist and/or a family doctor for your routine check-ups it is important that you know exactly what you need — and what to expect. Young women tend to see a gynecologist for their regular check-ups as they have been “programmed” to get an annual Pap test and breast exam.
After childbearing, many women stop going to a gynecologist (too many women think that after childbearing they no longer need a Pap test or gynecologic exam) and rely on their family doctor to do all the routine exams — both general and gynecologic. Yet too many family doctors are already overwhelmed with “too much to do and too little time” that many important tests can get missed or fall under the radar screen.
Some women, on the other hand, see both a gynecologist for their gynecological exams and a family doctor or Internist for their general check up and screening for chronic conditions such as heart disease and cancer. So for many women, no one doctor takes care of it all — so it is up to you to see that you get all the tests you need — at the right time and on time.
Add to that the fact that no one doctor today can keep up with all the latest information about everything — the importance of the new HPV test along with the Pap test is a case in point.
I know that it takes me at least an hour or more to provide a thorough evaluation to a woman who needs both a comprehensive history and physical evaluation including a pelvic exam. When was the last time a doctor spent an hour or more with you? Make sure that you tell the receptionist that you are coming for a complete physical so that they schedule enough time and come as prepared as possible so that you get all care and attention you need.
For women 50 and over you need the following tests and exams to get the best snapshot of your overall health.
General physical exam
This includes taking a detailed history to learn all about you and your family history and a head-to-toe physical exam including an exam of your skin, eye, ears, nose throat, lymph nodes, chest, breast, abdomen, rectum and extremities. Make sure you get a breast exam and rectal exam and stool check for blood by your family doctor if you are not examined yearly by a gynecologist as well.
Waist circumference (WC): Women with increased WC are at increased risk of metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart disease and cancer of breast and uterus.
BMI (measure of height and weight): much less reliable estimate of future health risk than WC and body shape.
Blood pressure: According to current treatment guidelines, the blood pressure target is 130/80 or lower for patients with diabetes. Blood pressure readings should be taken at every doctor’s visit.
This exam will automatically be done if you are seeing a gynecologist. If you rely on a family doctor for all of your care you may have to ask – or remind your doctor that you need a gynecologic exam too. A pelvic exam can check the condition of your uterus and cervix, ovaries, and rectum. Don’t be afraid to ask for a rectal exam and a check of your stool for blood. I remember being embarrassed but did ask my gynecologist (the only doctor I was seeing at the time) to do it at one point when I realized it was not part of his routine. I wasn’t ready to literally “die from embarrassment.”
A regular Pap test to examine the cells of your cervix to diagnose cervical cancer and changes that could signal cervical cancer is important too. Find out whether your doctor does the more sensitive liquid-based Pap test.
New information for women
Women over thirty and that means WOMEN 50 and over too should ask for the human papilloma virus (HPV) test along with the Pap test, also called the DNAwithPap™ test or the HPV test with Pap test. This combination of tests is now recommended for women over the age of thirty because a positive HPV test could mean you are a chronic carrier of the virus that is the sole cause of cervical cancer and therefore at increased risk of cervical cancer — and may require additional tests and treatment of any abnormal cells caused by the virus. Women in their twenties commonly acquire the virus but it doesn’t persist because their immune system fights it off.
Since cervical cancer is caused by the human papilloma virus, having a negative HPV test and a Pap test is very reassuring and virtually guarantees that you are not at risk for cervical cancer over the next few years. If both tests are negative which will be the case for 95% of women over 30, then you can safely get the HPV and Pap test every three years instead of annually.
Blood Work: An overnight fast or fasting sample is critical ...Read entire article…
iVillageI Can See Clearly Now…One of my favorite topics to discuss is STDs. What can I say, I’m a bonafied germaphobe. Most of the time I can answer friends’ questions with ease. But when it comes to HPV, I’m often stumped. I know “high-risk” types can cause cervical cancer, and “low-risk” types can cause genital warts. I know there are many other types that might not cause any symptoms at all. But I also know that the majority of women will get at least some type of HPV in their lifetime. So how do we know when to worry? And why are we all so clueless about it? I decided to ask Dr. Marie Savard, an internal medicine physician and women’s wellness expert, some of my toughest questions. Talk to me, Dr. Savard: …Read entire article…
Please visit my website and Dr. Marie’s HEALTHY DOSE. I will share my thoughts on a variety of health issues and ALWAYS welcome your comments as well.