01 JAN 2022

Health Screenings to Schedule in 2022

Close up view on a female nurse sitting in front of a senior patient while measuring her blood pressure during a regular visit.
Preventive screens can detect little problems before they become big ones

Many people only schedule a primary care appointment if they’re in pain or notice a concerning change. But even if you’re feeling fine, preventive screenings can detect little problems before they become big problems. January is a good time to start thinking about your annual exam or health screenings.

“As a primary care doctor, it’s my goal to help you make healthy choices to avoid disease whenever possible. Screenings are important because they can detect disease at an early stage, while we have time to do something – whether it be medication or a change in lifestyle, diet or exercise – before any more damage is done," explained Kevin Xunan, D.O., a family medicine provider at NorthBay Center for Primary Care in Vacaville.

“A screening could be a lab test or a check of vital signs, such as blood pressure,” he said. “It could be answering a series of questions, such as a survey to indicate depression or anxiety, or gathering family history information that could be helpful to finding genetic clues.”

According to Mayo Clinic, men and women older than 50 should have a yearly physical exam, and those younger than 50 should have a physical exam every three to five years. Women should schedule Pap smears to check for cervical cancer and mammograms to detect breast cancer, especially as they reach their 40s and 50s.

Even if you're feeling healthy, a regular checkup with your provider is a good way to validate your health or identify a problem in its early stages. Other important screenings include:

Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is a good indication to many aspects of your health. High blood pressure can lead to other problems, especially those associated with the heart. Have your blood pressure checked at least every two years or more frequently if you are considered high risk.

Cholesterol

Starting at age 18, people at average risk for heart disease should have a cholesterol screening every five years. More frequent testing may be required for those with a family history of high cholesterol or heart attacks, smokers, those who eat a poor diet, are overweight, have diabetes, are physically inactive or are older than 45.

Diabetes

If you're older than 45 or have a body mass index above 25, the American Diabetes Association recommends you be screened for diabetes. Type 2 diabetes and prediabetes symptoms can happen slowly and may not be noticeable. An annual blood test will be key to detecting these issues.

Colon Cancer

Colon cancer screenings should begin at age 45 or 10 years prior to the diagnosis of colon cancer in an immediate relative. For example, get screened at age 36 if your mother was diagnosed at age 46. A colonoscopy is a traditional, effective procedure to identify colon cancer or precancerous polyps. A more recent noninvasive option available is a take-home test. Talk to your doctor about which option is best for you.

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

For men between 65 and 75 who have smoked more than 100 cigarettes in their lifetime, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends a one-time abdominal aortic aneurysm screening ultrasound. An abdominal aortic aneurysm is an enlarged area in the lower part of the aorta, the major blood vessel that supplies blood to the body. Because the aorta is the body's main supplier of blood, a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm can cause life-threatening bleeding.

Ask your primary care doctor about these health screenings. Patients of NorthBay Healthcare can schedule appointments by calling (707) 646-5500 or through the patient portal.

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