Make Doctor’s Appointments A Priority
Eyes. It’s not just about vision — eye doctors can tell early signs of high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes just by looking at the back of eye. Vision can also change with pregnancy or after birth. And around 40, seeing things close up becomes more difficult. Early screening for diseases like glaucoma and problems with the retina can prevent or delay blindness.
Sleep apnea. Snorers with daytime sleepiness should discuss the possibility of sleep apnea with their doctors. Typically classified by hundreds of moments of apnea — where a person stops breathing during sleep — the brain doesn’t get enough oxygen during these episodes. The condition can raise the risk of high blood pressure, stroke and mental health disorders. Obese men with certain types of nose structures are most affected, but women are not exempt.
Teeth. A new statement from the American Heart Association says that, while there’s a link between gum disease and heart disease as previously stated, there is no current proof that troubled gums cause heart attacks and stroke. There is still, however, a link between poor dental care and preterm labor — not to mention the cosmetic aspects. Regular dentist visits are even important for those with dentures: dentists can screen for signs of tongue or mouth cancers.
Thyroid. The thyroid gland, located in the neck, controls metabolism. Women are more likely to have difficulties with this organ, causing their metabolism to either speed up or slow down, and, in some cases, cause infertility. As the thyroid speeds up metabolism, women tend to be thin despite eating a lot, feel anxious with a fast heart rate, and have an intolerance to heat. When it’s slow, women tend to be overweight, with menstrual irregularities, frequently cold and sometimes depressed. Thyroid screening involves blood tests and a physical examination looking for lumps in the gland that signal a deeper problem.
Breasts. Many physicians and medical practitioners still encourage their patients to perform them. The best time to check is after each monthly period. If you don’t check faithfully, at least see have a physician check at your annual exam. That same task force suggests that the first mammogram should wait until age 50, but discuss your particular case with your doctor. If you have risk factors such as strong family history of breast cancer, the first mammogram could be indicated as early as your 30s.
Heart. At least once a year, have your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol checked for the three main risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, also called hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol. If you already have one of those three conditions, keep your regular appointments and follow your doctor’s treatment plan. If you disagree, discuss it; don’t suddenly stop or start taking medication without guidance. Depending on your age or risk factors, your doctor may schedule a “stress test” to look for any major heart blockages or existing damage.