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Your Health Maintenance Checklist

Your Health Maintenance Checklist

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Are you ready to make 2021 your healthiest year yet? The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to make your health a priority.

Part of a healthy lifestyle includes seeing your doctor for regular screenings. Even if you feel healthy, these screenings are an important tool for detecting health issues before they become more serious. Remember, early detection is your best prevention.

The right plan for your care will vary based on factors such as your medical history, family medical history, and personal preferences and lifestyle. Use this checklist as a guide to schedule your appointments for 2021, and talk to your doctor to figure out the perfect care plan for you.

Screenings for Men and Women

Diabetes Screening

If you’re a man or woman age 45 or older, you should receive one of the following tests every three years to detect diabetes:

  • Fasting plasma glucose: During this test, your blood sugar levels are measured after you haven’t had anything to eat or drink (except water) in the past eight hours.
  • Random plasma glucose: This test measures how much glucose (sugar) you have circulating in your blood. Eating before this test will not affect your results.

Colorectal Cancer Screening

Women and men ages 50 to 75 should receive a yearly colorectal cancer screening. In some cases, those aged 75-85 should also get this screening.

  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy: During this test, a doctor puts a short, thin, flexible, lighted tube into your rectum to check for polyps or cancer inside the rectum and lower third of the colon.
  • Screening colonoscopy: This test is similar to a flexible sigmoidoscopy; however, it checks for polyps and cancer inside the rectum and entire colon. During this test, your doctor can find and remove most polyps and some cancers. Colonoscopies can be used as a follow-up test if anything unusual is found during another test.
  • High sensitivity fecal occult blood testing: This is a lab test that checks a stool sample for hidden occult blood, which may indicate colon cancer or polyps in the colon or rectum.

Cholesterol Screening

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for Americans. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk—including getting regular cholesterol screenings.

  • Lipid panel, including LDL: This is a blood test that measures lipids, or fats and fatty substances your body uses for energy. Cholesterol, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein (HDL), and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) are all lipids. Starting at age 20, all men and women should have a lipid panel test performed every five years. If you’re at high risk of heart disease, you should receive this test earlier and more frequently.

Hypertension Screening

Everyone, regardless of age, should have their blood pressure checked at least every 1-2 years, or more frequently if you have a family history of high blood pressure or heart disease.

  • Blood pressure measurement: Any time you visit the doctor, it’s likely you’ll have your blood pressure taken with a blood pressure monitor and cuff. You can also buy your own monitor and cuff to track your blood pressure at home.

The top number (systolic) refers to the amount of pressure in your arteries when your heart muscles contract. The bottom number (diastolic) is your blood pressure when your heart is between beats.

Screenings for Women

Breast Cancer Screening

A few different exam methods detect breast cancer, ranging from a simple self-exam to a mammogram.

  • Mammogram: A mammogram uses a machine that takes an X-ray image of the breast tissue to look for early breast cancer signs. Regular mammograms are the best way to detect breast cancer early. In general, women ages 45 to 54 should get annual mammograms. If you have a family history of breast cancer, talk to your doctor about starting these exams sooner.
  • Physician breast exam: During this exam, a physician checks the appearance of your breasts for anything unusual.Women in their 20s and 30s should receive this exam from a doctor or nurse every one to three years, then once a year once they turn 40.
  • Breast self-exam: Adult women of all ages should perform a monthly breast self-exam to check for lumps or anything unusual in their breasts.Regular self-exams are an essential tool in the early diagnosis of breast cancer.

Cervical Cancer Screening

  • Pap smear/Human Papilloma Virus (HPV): During this test, cells are collected from the cervix to detect cervical cancer. Women ages 21 to 65, or starting three years after beginning sexual activity, should receive routine Pap tests. Women up to age 30 should receive a yearly Pap test without the HPV test, and women over age 30 should receive a Pap test with an HPV test every three years. This screening is also part of a well-woman exam.

Osteoporosis Screening

Women ages 65 and older should receive a bone density test to check for signs of osteoporosis, a disease that causes weakened bones.

  • DXA (bone-density testing): This test involves an enhanced form of X-ray technology that measures bone loss.

Sexually Transmitted Disease Screening

Sexually active women younger than 25 should receive a chlamydia test each year with their Pap test. Your doctor may recommend other tests based on your risk level.

  • Chlamydia testing: This test detects the sexually transmitted disease chlamydia through urine or a swab.

Screenings for Men

Prostate Cancer Screening

Regular prostate screenings are the best way to detect prostate cancer early.

  • Digital rectal exam (DRE) and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test: Men 50 and older should receive both of these tests annually, along with a discussion with their physician, to detect prostate cancer. Black men should begin to receive these tests at age 40.


Are you up to date on your shots? Here are some common vaccinations you may need:

  • Influenza (flu): Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every year, with rare exceptions. The CDC recommends getting a flu vaccine by the end of October each year.
  • Pneumococcal (pneumonia): Adults aged 65 and older who are at average risk of pneumonia should receive this one-time vaccine. If you’re high-risk, you should get this vaccine sooner and follow-up with revaccination after five years.
  • Human Papilloma Virus (HPV): All women between ages 11 and 25 should receive this series of three vaccines to prevent Human Papilloma Virus.
  • Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis: Men and women ages 19 to 64 should receive this one-time vaccine.
  • Varicella-Zoster: This vaccine, which protects against shingles, is recommended for adults 60 and older. Only a one-time shot is needed.

Never delay important screenings, even during a pandemic. If you need to schedule an annual screening or have questions, we’re here for you—because we want you healthy, Frederick! Get care today.