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Women: Stay Healthy at Any Age
Checklist for Your Next Checkup
What can you do to stay healthy and prevent disease? You can get certain screening tests,
take preventive medicine if you need it, and practice healthy behaviors.
Top health experts from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force suggest that when you go for
your next checkup, talk to your doctor or nurse about how you can stay healthy no matter what
Screening Tests: What You Need and When
Screening tests, such as mammograms and Pap smears, can find diseases early when they are easier
treat. Some women need certain screening tests earlier, or more often, than others. Talk to your
about which of the tests listed below are right for you, when you should have them, and how often.
The Task Force has made the following recommendations, based on scientific evidence, about which
screening tests you should have.
- Mammograms: Have a mammogram every 1 to 2 years starting at age 40.
- Pap Smears: Have a Pap smear every 1 to 3 years if you have been sexually active or are older
- Cholesterol Checks: Have your cholesterol checked regularly starting at age 45. If you smoke,
or if heart disease runs in your family, start having your cholesterol checked at age 20.
- Blood Pressure: Have your blood pressure checked at least every 2 years.
- Colorectal Cancer Tests: Have a test for colorectal cancer starting at age 50. Your doctor
you decide which test is right for you.
- Diabetes Tests: Have a test to screen for diabetes if you have high blood pressure or high
- Depression: If you've felt "down," sad, or hopeless, and have felt little interest or pleasure
things for 2 weeks straight, talk to your doctor about whether he or she can screen you for
- Osteoporosis Tests: Have a bone density test at age 65 to screen for osteoporosis
(thinning of the bones).
If you are between the ages of 60 and 64 and weigh 154 lbs. or less, talk to your doctor about
should be tested.
- Chlamydia Tests and Tests for Other Sexually Transmitted Diseases: Have a test for Chlamydia
if you are
25 or younger and sexually active. If you are older, talk to your doctor to see whether you should
- Also, talk to your doctor to see whether you should be tested for other sexually transmitted
Should You Take Medicines to Prevent Disease?
- Hormones: According to recent studies, the risks of taking the combined hormones estrogen and
after menopause to prevent long-term illnesses outweigh the benefits. Talk to your doctor about
starting or continuing to take hormones is right for you.
- Breast Cancer Drugs: If your mother, sister, or daughter has had breast cancer, talk to your
about the risks and benefits of taking medicines to prevent breast cancer.
- Aspirin: Talk to your doctor about taking aspirin to prevent heart disease if you are older
and have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or if you smoke.
- Immunizations: Stay up-to-date with your immunizations:
- Have a flu shot every year starting at age 50.
- Have a tetanus-diphtheria shot every 10 years.
- Have a pneumonia shot once at age 65.
- Talk to your doctor to see whether you need hepatitis B shots.
What Else Can You Do To Stay Healthy?
Don't Smoke. But if you do smoke, talk to your doctor about quitting. You can take medicine and
counseling to help you quit. Make a plan and set a quit date. Tell your family, friends, and
you are quitting. Ask for their support. If you are pregnant and smoke, quitting now will help
Eat a Healthy Diet. Eat a variety of foods, including fruit, vegetables, animal or vegetable
(such as meat, fish, chicken, eggs, beans, lentils, tofu, or tempeh) and grains (such as rice).
the amount of saturated fat you eat.
Be Physically Active. Walk, dance, ride a bike, rake leaves, or do any other physical activity
Start small and work up to a total of 20-30 minutes most days of the week.
Stay at a Healthy Weight. Balance the number of calories you eat with the number you burn off by
activities. Remember to watch portion sizes. Talk to your doctor if you have questions about what
how much to eat.
Drink Alcohol Only in Moderation. If you drink alcohol, one drink a day is safe for women, unless
are pregnant. If you are pregnant, you should avoid alcohol. Since researchers don't know how much
will harm a fetus, it's best not to drink any alcohol while you are pregnant.
A standard drink is one 12-ounce bottle of beer or wine cooler, one 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5
of 80-proof distilled spirits.
Screening Test Checklist
Take this checklist with you to your doctor's office and fill it out when you have had any of the
listed below. Talk to your doctor about when you should have these tests next, and note the month
in the right-hand column.
Also, talk to your doctor about which of the other tests listed below you should have in the future,
when you need them.
|| The last time I had the following screening test was:
(mm/yy) || I should schedule my next test for:
| Mammogram || || |
| Pap smear || || |
| Cholesterol || || |
| Blood pressure || || |
| Colorectal cancer || || |
| Osteoporosis || || |
| Chlamydia || || |
Source: Women: Stay Healthy at Any Age - Checklist for Your Next Checkup.
AHRQ Publication No. APPIP03-0008, January 2004.
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.
Adapted by Editorial Staff, October 2006
Last update, July 2008