Here are the health checks you should have throughout your life

Many of us like to imagine that getting sick is something that happens to other people. At the very least, we hope that we won’t get seriously ill until we’re well into our 80s or 90s. Unfortunately, it’s possible to contract an illness or become unwell at any point in your life, and the best way to avoid this is to get regular tests and check-ups – starting in your 20s. Here, Dr Suzanne Garland explains what you need to know: Twenties “Sexually transmitted infections are one of the biggest health risks facing men and women in their 20s. For this reason, people who are sexually active should get annual STI tests – and if they have multiple sexual partners or if they ever engage in unprotected sex, they should get tested more regularly. Don’t forget that many STIs are initially symptomless, but may cause infertility, as well as severe, and in some cases life-threatening complications, if left untreated.” “Women in the UK should also start getting screened for cervical cancer from the age of 25 (or 20 in Scotland). This should be done every three years up to the age of 49; after this you should have a cervical screening every five years.” Thirties “Men and women in their thirties should start to be aware of the risks of high cholesterol, which can lead to atherosclerosis (the narrowing of the arteries), heart attack and stroke.” “From around the age of 35, it’s wise to have your cholesterol checked every five years. However, if you smoke, have diabetes, or are very overweight you may need to be tested more regularly. If you do find that you have high cholesterol in your 30s, you can begin to make changes to your lifestyle that will prevent the condition from developing into something more serious. Visit the British Heart Foundation and find out about reducing your cholesterol.” “Women in their 30s should also get into the habit of checking their breasts at home. You can find out how to do this at Breast Cancer Care UK.”

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Forties “In your 40s, your risk of developing diabetes starts to grow. From around the age of 45, it can be a good idea to get checked for diabetes or pre-diabetes (where your blood sugar is high and could develop into full-blown diabetes).” You are particularly at risk of developing type 2 diabetes if you are: * Closely related to someone with diabetes * Of South Asian, Chinese, African-Caribbean or black African descent * Overweight or obese “Men and women over the age of 40 should also get their blood pressure checked every five years. As with high cholesterol, if your blood pressure is found to be too high, you can start making changes to your lifestyle to avoid future complications.” Fifties “In men over 50, urinary symptoms can start to become a problem, and may indicate a possible cancer. There is no routine NHS screening service offered for prostate cancer, but you can talk to your GP about getting tested if you are concerned.” “Women in this age bracket should be aware of the risks of breast cancer. On the NHS, women between the ages of 50 and 70 qualify for a free breast screening every three years.” “Women over 50 should also be aware of osteoporosis, a common side effect of the menopause in which the bones weaken, becoming more fragile and easily broken. If you are underweight, smoke or drink a lot, and/or don’t exercise regularly, you are particularly at risk of osteoporosis and may require a test – a DEXA scan assesses bone density – and is painless and quick.”
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Sixties “Over the age of 60, you become entitled to a free eye test on the NHS. It is recommended that you have your eyes tested every two years.” “The NHS also offers free home testing kits for bowel cancer to men and women aged between 60 and 74 (or 50 and 74 in Scotland).” “Men who are 65 can also be tested for abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA), a condition in which the main blood vessel leading away from the heart becomes swollen.” Seventy + “Over the age of 70, you may find that you are no longer invited for routine screening tests on the NHS. However, this does not mean that you are ineligible for free tests. Rather, it’s up to you to put yourself forward for screenings and check-ups. The best thing to do is to talk to your GP if you have any particular concerns, and get tested if you notice any new symptoms or changes to your body.” “GPs will regularly enquire about memory issues with patients over 70, and will offer tests if you have any concerns. As well as being aware of the particular health risks that can affect your age group, it’s also a good idea to have regular check-ups with the dentist, and to have any unusual skin growths or moles looked at by a doctor.” Source]]>