One of our favorite experts, Marie Savard, M.D., Medical Contributor to “Good Morning America” and the author most recently of “Ask Dr. Marie,” has given us a comprehensive checklist to help you stay as healthy as possible and catch any problems early. In addition to recommending tests and immunizations, Dr. Marie urges you to request copies of all your own test results. She is a big proponent of patients being actively involved in their own care. “Read your results carefully,” she says. “Doctors are not infallible and you may catch something that was missed. Also, the records are not all that hard to understand.”
Finally, Dr. Marie stresses that “no news is not good news” when it comes to not hearing anything about your test results. “Records can get lost or misfiled,” she says. “I know of people who have literally saved their own lives by calling to inquire about results that were never reported and which turned out to have important information in them.”
Dr. Marie recommends that every woman should have the following tests:
Annual Pap test and for women over thirty,a test for the presence of HPV at the same time you have your Pap test.
A physical every three to five years including:
Examination of your skin over your entire body
Blood pressure check
Height, weight, and waist circumference
Mental Health Assessment
Cardiovascular Risk Assessment
Dental exam every six months, not just for your teeth but also because periodontal disease can increase the risk of heart disease and of tonsillar cancer from an HPV infection.
Vision exam annually
Starting in Your Forties, add an annual mammogram
Starting in Your Fifties, add a colonoscopy every ten years and stool occult blood test every year as well as a baseline electrocardiogram (EKG)
Starting in Your Sixties, add a bone density test and a blood test for vitamin D level
In addition, you should have the following immunizations:
Tetanus and diphtheria every ten years
Diptheria/Pertussis/Tetanus (DPT) once as an adult as a booster because Pertussis (whooping cough) is on the rise. This combination shot is in addition to the tetanus and diphtheria shots you need every ten years.
Flu shot annually to protect against to new strains, especially if you’re over 50.
Pneumonia vaccine if you’re over sixty-five, once only
HPV vaccination, a series of three shots over six months to protect against cervical cancer if you’re sexually active, although some doctors don’t recommend this for older women
Shingles vaccine if you’re over 60, once only
Meningitis vaccine, usually for young people but get the vaccine at any age if you’re going to work somewhere such as a college dorm or a camp where you would be exposed to the bacteria.
Please visit Dr. Marie’s site at www.drsavard.com.
Other articles by Dr. Marie on ThirdAge:
Straight Talk About Aphrodisiacs http://www.thirdage.com/love-romance/dr-marie-straight-talk-about-aphrodisiacs
Rules for a Healthy Hospital Stay http://www.thirdage.com/medical-care/dr-maries-hospital-guide
How to Get the Most Out of Your Hospital Visit http://www.thirdage.com/prepare-prevent/six-ways-to-get-the-most-out-of-your-doctor-visit
Ten Health Symptoms You Should Never Ignore http://www.thirdage.com/prepare-prevent/ten-health-red-flags-you-should-never-ignore