Protect Your Health with Preventative Screenings

September 4, 2014

September 4, 2014 –ELKO, NV- 
We’ve all heard the saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. While this idea is relevant to many parts of our lives, it is particularly meaningful to our health. There are many important ways we can prevent health-related problems, including eating right and exercising regularly. One of the most effective ways to protect our health is through regular health screenings. 

“Regular health screenings and checkups are vital to a healthy lifestyle,” said Starla Ricks, DNP, APN, FNP-BC. “By taking a proactive approach to your health that includes yearly screenings, you and your doctor can identify future health risks, such as cancer, heart disease and other underlying issues before they escalate. Screenings also can encourage those who are healthy to continue or improve their habits for better health.” 

Today, all health plans cover a range of important preventative health screenings, and covered individuals can receive many regular screenings at little or no cost. 

Common recommended screenings for men and women that are covered by all health insurance plans include: 
  • Annual Wellness Visit: It is important to see your physician once a year. This visit allows your doctor to check your vitals, such as temperature, blood pressure, and red and white blood cell counts, and monitor your overall health 
  • Cardiovascular Screening Blood Tests: Cardiovascular screening tests offer insight on your cholesterol levels, which can help your doctor determine your risk for a heart attack or other heart diseases. 
  • Diabetes Screening Test: Testing should be considered in all adults who are overweight and have additional risk factors. In the absence of risk factors testing for diabetes should begin at age 45 years. If results are normal, testing should be repeated at least at 3-year intervals. 
  • Colorectal Cancer Screening: Beginning at age 50, or earlier if advocated by a physician, a yearly colorectal cancer screening is recommended. Screenings may consist of a colonoscopy, high-sensitivity fecal occult blood testing or a sigmoidoscopy. Each screening tests for precancerous polyps, so they can be removed before becoming cancerous. 
  • Screening for Depression: Physicians often use a health questionnaire to help patients describe their emotional status, sleep patterns, appetite and concentration to identify depression. Depression screening is important because studies have shown that depression can negatively impact your overall health and is linked to a range of health concerns including chronic pain. 

Additional screenings recommended for women include: 
  • Pelvic Examination: Annual pelvic exams can identify a number of health problems in women, including ovarian cysts, sexually transmitted infections, uterine fibroids and early stages of cancer. 
  • Pap Tests: A yearly pap test is recommended for women ages 21 to 65. A pap test will determine your risk for cervical cancer. 
  • Mammography Screening: Mammograms are x-ray screenings that will identify developing breast changes or cancer. Women age 40 and older should have a mammogram every year and should continue to do so for as long as they are in good health. 
  • Bone Mass Measurements: Bone mass measurements can indicate your risk for osteoporosis by measuring your bone mineral density. It is recommended annually for all women over the age of 65. 

An additional test recommended for men is a prostate cancer screening. Prostate cancer screenings may consist of two tests: a digital rectum exam (DRE) and a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test. The DRE can indicate if the size of the prostate and abnormalities, and the PSA test will measure the amount of PSAs in the blood. Higher levels of PSA and large prostates can indicate prostate cancer.