8 Health Tests You Should Have
Important exams to diagnose or ward off diseases
Many health tests commence at midlife, but in special situations, they can be advisable as young as your teens.
1. Cholesterol: You should have their first test at age 20 if you smoke or have diabetes, or if heart disease runs in your family. Otherwise, women should start being tested at 45, men at 35. Optimal: LDL under 100 mg.
2. Blood pressure: You’re never too young to have this simple armband test. The optimal range is 120/80 mm Hg or lower.
3. Blood sugar: The National Diabetes Association recommends this test for women and men over 45. You’re looking for a number under 100 mg/dL.
4. Breast exams: Start having mammograms every one or two years at age 40. Manual breast exams should be part of your checkup as early as your 20s, according to the American Cancer Society.
5. Pap smears: Your first test for cervical cancer should happen when you’re 21. If you’re sexually active before that, you should begin screening three years after you begin having sex.
6. Bone density test: This is one you don’t have to worry about for a while, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Age 60 is the right timing for the first scan if you have any risk factors; 65 if you do not.
7. Colonoscopy: Unless you have risk factors, you’re off the hook until age 50 for this one. After that, five years is the recommended interval, from the American Cancer Society.
8. Self tests: You can lower your risk of heart disease by keeping your waist measurement at 35 inches or below (for men, the max is 40 inches). Likewise, keeping your body mass index below 25 can lower risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. To find your BMI, plug your height and weight into the calculator at nhlbisupport.com/bmi/ (National Heart Lung and Blood Institute).