Medical Check Up: Which Screenings Do You Need?

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Getting healthy and staying healthy requires solid preventive medicine. But which screenings and blood tests should you expect as you age?

We’ve put together a summary of official recommendations from the US Preventive Services Task Force. Keep in mind that since each patient is unique, your health care provider will, in all likelihood, customize your personal screening based on your health history. But this list gives you an overview of what to expect from your annual check ups from decade to decade.

Age 18 and Older

We recommend that young, healthy men get a general exam every 3-5 years. Women should have a general exam every 1-3 years, depending on the need for cervical cancer screening. As part of the general exam, we may recommend a blood pressure measurement and/or a cholesterol test (lipid panel). Certain patient populations may require additional diagnostic testing or preventive measures:

Sexually Active Women

  • Pap and HPV testing every 1-3 yrs until age 65 to screen for cervical cancer
  • Chlamydia and gonorrhea testing

Patients at Risk for Sexually Transmitted Infections (e.g. unprotected intercourse, multiple partners)

  • HIV testing
  • Chlamydia testing
  • RPR test to screen for syphilis

Patients with High Blood Pressure or High Cholesterol

  • Fasting blood sugar test to screen for diabetes

Patients at High Risk for Cardiovascular Disease

  • Aspirin to prevent heart attack and/or stroke

Age 40 and Older

For most patients without major illness, we recommend a general exam every 1-3 years. In addition to the recommendations above, we suggest that women schedule an appointment to discuss mammograms with your provider.

Age 50 and Older

For most patients without major illness, we recommend a general exam every 1-2 years. In addition to the recommendations above, we advise all patients to have a colonoscopy every 3-10 years depending on their level of risk. Women should increase the frequency of their mammograms to one per year. Men should consider prostate cancer screening options, although this remains a controversial subject.

Age 60 and Older

For most patients without major illness, we recommend a general exam every 1-2 years. In addition to the recommendations above, we encourage bone density testing for women at risk for osteoporosis — women who are Asian, Caucasian, thin, smoke or consume alcohol frequently. For men ages 65-75 who have ever smoked, we recommend a one-time ultrasound of the abdomen to screen for aortic aneurysms.

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The One Medical blog is published by One Medical, an innovative primary care practice with offices in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, and Washington, DC.

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