Safe and Healthy Me - Screening: Know Your Health Risks
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Chronic diseases have similar risk factors:
- being inactive
- being overweight or obese
- using tobacco
Your health care provider should check your weight and ask about your physical activity and tobacco use at every visit.
These Safe & Healthy Me web pages have information on these topics:
Take charge of your health.
Take charge of your life.
Adults, particularly those 45 or over, should be screened to prevent chronic diseases. Because the tests have different schedules and recommendations, we promote an annual visit with a health care provider as a practical approach to keep up-to-date with recommended tests. These tests relate to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer and injuries. If you have questions about these tests, talk with your health care provider. Go here for specific recommendations for each test.
Cancer is a very common disease. One in two men will have a cancer diagnosis during his lifetime. One in three women will have a cancer diagnosis during her lifetime.
Only 5% of cancers are due to family history.
Over 50% of cancers are linked to behaviors such as using tobacco products, being inactive, abusing alcohol, having an unhealthy weight and an unhealthy diet.
Screenings are available and recommended for breast, cervical, colorectal, and lung cancer.
- Breast Cancer Screening recommendations: Begin at age 50 and have a mammogram every two years.
- Cervical Cancer screening recommendations: Begin at age 21 and have a Pap smear every 3 years or, for women age 30 to 65 years who want to lengthen the screening interval, screening with a combination of pap smear and human papillomavirus (HPV) testing every 5 years.
- Colon Cancer screening recommendations: Begin at age 50. If you are an Alaska Native or have a risk factor listed above, start at age 40.
- Lung Cancer Screening recommendations: Annual screening with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) in adults aged 55 to 80 years who have a 30 pack-year smoking history and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years. Screening should be discontinued once a person has not smoked for 15 years or develops a health problem that substantially limits life expectancy or the ability or willingness to have curative lung surgery.
Risk factors for diabetes include having a family member (parent, sibling) with diabetes; being inactive; being overweight or obese; being 45 years of age or older; being a woman who had a baby with a birth weight of 9 pounds or greater; and being non-white.
Having diabetes increases your risk for heart disease, vision problems including blindness, kidney disease, vascular and/or nerve problems, amputation, some cancers, and premature death.
- Blood Glucose test (also known as blood sugar test)
- Diabetes screening recommendations: From age 20 thru age 44, every 3 years if you have high blood pressure, are overweight, are Hispanic/Latino, are not white, had a baby weighing more than 9 pounds at birth and/or if you have a family member with diabetes. Starting at age 45, every 3 years, but more often if you have risk factors.
Heart Disease and Stroke
Being inactive, being overweight or obese, using tobacco, having an unhealthy diet, and having stress increase your risk for having high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Having high cholesterol and/or high blood pressure increase your risk for diabetes, kidney disease, heart attack, stroke and premature death.
- Blood Pressure screening recommendations: Starting at age 20, every 2 years if your blood pressure is lower than 120/80. At least yearly if it is 120/80 or higher.
- Blood Cholesterol screening recommendations: For men, start at age 35. For women, start at age 45.
One out of three older adults (those aged 65 or older) falls each year, but less than half talk to their healthcare providers about it. Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries.
Falls don’t ‘just happen’ and people don’t fall just because they get older. Falls are more likely with:
- Muscle weakness, especially in the legs,
- Problems with balance and/or gait – how someone walks, or
- Certain medications.
There are many other reasons as well! Use this checklist to assess your risk.
- Falls screening recommendation: People who are 65 or over should have their risk of a fall assessed at least every year. For more information, see screening recommendations.
- Timed up and go: tests how long it takes for you to stand up from a chair, walk at your usual speed to and from a marker 10 feet away, and sit back down.
- Information about Falls Risk Factor Assessments and Tests
If you have health coverage, these tests will likely be paid for through insurance. You can get them at the following locations:
- Your health care provider’s office
- Alaska Health Fair
- A health fair organized by your employer
Here’s a sheet to help you understand your health information: