As we near the end of 2017, I have to say it’s been full of ups and downs. It’s been a year that has taught us to truly value our health as a family. I need to give you a little bit of my back story, so that you can understand why I started getting executive checkups so young that even the doctors were telling me I didn’t really need to do all the tests. My father got sick in 1996 and his diagnosis, of course, changed my life. Once the big C enters your life, things are never the same. Thankfully for all of us he was able to fight it and live for 19 more years. However, because of this I have been hyper vigilant about health checks since I turned 30.
Last year I decided to run a marathon thinking it would be an amazing feat for my mind, body, and soul. Well, it turned out that it was restorative for my mind and introspective for my soul but not so great for my body. My super intense, super condensed training (7 months all up) wreaked havoc on my cycle and I have spent the better part of this year trying to get it balanced once more. I’ve never really had anything wrong with me, and as I mentioned I’ve always been pedantic about routine checkups. So you can imagine how scary and frustrating it was for me to keep getting these tests back that said my levels weren’t in the normal range. You take it all for granted until something spins off kilter and then you realize that there’s no price tag for good health. My husband David had his own health scare this year and he was very fortunate that it turned out to be just that, rather than something very serious. This was discovered by his annual executive checkup. I can’t stress how crucial it is to get regular health check ups. I mandate annual checks in our household given my experience with my Dad.
I thought that I should give a very brief list of the health checks you should have as a woman (by age). This is by no means all the tests you should have but at least it gives you a useful guide. Health should always be your top priority and early detection of any type of disease can save lives.
WOMEN’S HEALTH CHECKS (By AGE)
Your baseline blood pressure should be checked by age 20 to establish that it’s in the normal range and then by age 40, you should be checking your blood pressure annually.
You should have your cholesterol checked every 5 years from age 20
A pap smear is used to detect signs of cervical cancer. There are differing recommendations (as with most of these health checks) about exactly what age you should start having pap smears and how often but you should definitely have your first pap smear by 21 years old and probably every 3 years after that.
This x-ray screens for breast cancer. I recently attended a women’s health seminar and there was a discussion on what age and how often women should have a mammogram. The suggested screenings differ from country to country. For example, in Singapore and the Philippines they recommend annual mammograms for women beginning at age 40. However in England, they advocate women commence annual mammograms at age 50, while the American Cancer Society recommends annual screenings beginning at 45. There are other factors that influence how often you should screen, such as family history and oral contraceptive use (to name a few).
Taking care of yourself isn’t just about a healthy diet, managing stress, and maintaining a regular exercise regime. It’s also about being proactive with your health checkups so that you ensure that you everything on the inside that you can’t see is also doing well.