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Must Have Medical Tests for Women - Health Screenings for Women - Women's Health

Medical Tests for Women

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Updated June 19, 2014

Bone Density Test – Bone density testing is a simple and painless procedure. Testing for bone loss is necessary for all women over age 65, as well as for younger women with at least one known risk factor, as well as for all women who have had a hysterectomy. Osteoporosis, in most cases, causes substantial bone loss and the development of bone tissue deterioration. This disease, if not found and treated early, leads to fragile bones that break easily. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, over 1.5 million women and men over age 50 experience osteoporosis-related fractures annually. Fortunately, early diagnosis of osteoporosis by bone density testing is treatable with medications that stop progression of the disease and can reverse some of the bone loss that occurred prior to diagnosis.
More: Osteoporosis: Risk and Prevention

Blood Pressure Check – High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, affects at least 50 million people, or one of every five people, in the United States. Hypertension, occurs when blood pressure readings repeatedly rise above 140/90.

On the other hand, blood pressure can also be too low. When this occurs, patients experience low blood pressure or hypotension. Hypotension occurs when blood pressure readings are significantly lower than normal for the patient. The primary symptoms of hypotension include dizziness or feeling light headed and headaches. People taking medicine for high blood pressure who start having these symptoms should check with their healthcare providers to determine whether the prescribed blood pressure medication has worked too well or if a medication change is necessary.

What Do the Numbers Mean?

The top number in a blood pressure reading, called the systolic pressure, is the amount of force or pressure exerted against the arteries during each heart beat, while the lower or diastolic number represents amount of pressure in the arteries between heart beats.
More: Symptoms of High Blood Pressure

STD Tests – Whenever you think exposure to a sexually transmitted disease (STD) has occurred, contact your healthcare provider immediately for testing. The presence of any type of unusual vaginal discharge should be an alert to see your doctor, as well. Having an abnormal vaginal discharge does not mean that an STD is present; however, having a vaginal discharge usually indicates the presence of either a STD or a vaginal infection.
More: 8 Myths and Facts About STDs

Routine HIV Testing – According to CDC guidelines, everyone who sees a doctor or who is a patient in an emergency room should receive HIV testing on a routine basis. The CDC believes routine HIV testing will result in a 30% decline in the spread of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
More: Symptoms, Risks, and Locating HIV Testing Services
HIV Testing Recommendations

Cholesterol Screening – The cholesterol test helps predict individual risks for the development of heart disease. Routine cholesterol tests are necessary every 5 years for adults. Other tests including HDL and LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, together, called a lipid profile are usually performed at the time of cholesterol testing says Labs Online. Cholesterol tests should be given only to healthy patients because some types of illness may cause false low test results. Pregnant women should forgo cholesterol testing during pregnancy since pregnancy often causes higher than normal cholesterol numbers. When patients are taking prescription medications to lower cholesterol, testing occurs more often to see how well the patient is responding to treatment.
More: How to Prevent Heart Disease in Women

Colorectal Cancer Tests – Regular screening for colon cancer, such as colonoscopies, should begin in patients during their late forties to early fifties. Colonoscopy should begin, for most patients, at age 50 and should take place every 10 years following. Patients with known risk factors should follow their healthcare provider’s advice for when to start having this test. The American Cancer Society, as well as other health organizations, recommends the routine performance of a test called a fecal blood culture for adults every year after age 50.

Early diagnosis of colon cancer significantly increases the five-year survival rate from this tragic disease to more than 90%; however, early colorectal cancer diagnosis occurs only 39% of the time. Having these tests at the recommended intervals, or as directed by your healthcare provider, is the best way to catch colorectal cancer while still in its early stages.
More: Share Your Colonoscopy Story

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