Dentist visit

Dentist visit Credit: The dentist should be visited every year (some dentists say every 6 months) by kids and adults.

Now that Fall is here, it's the perfect time to make an appointment with your physician for a checkup and health screening -- or two. But which ones do you really need and why? Gary Rogg, MD, an internist at Montefiore Medical Center, gives us his hotlist of the 10 tests you should know about.

Blood Pressure

Who needs it: Everyone

Why you need it: Also known as the 'silent killer' since there are often no symptoms, high blood pressure (AKA hypertension) is a key predictor of your heart attack and stroke risk. Your doctor or nurse will take your blood pressure reading and, FYI, ideal blood pressure is 120 over 80 or less (doctors prefer readings of 110 over 70).

Bone-Mineral Density Test

Who needs it: Men starting in the late 60s (or earlier if there's a family history of early osteoporosis) and all women over the age of 65 (unless you're a young woman with risk factors such as family history, smoking or you've had a hysterectomy or oophorectomy).

Why you need it: This special X-ray, performed at a radiologist's office or hospital, measures the density in your bones. If your bone density is lower than normal, you may need to begin strength training, taking vitamin D or taking certain medicines to increase your bone strength.

Colonoscopy

Who needs it: Men and women starting at age 50 (or earlier if there's a family member who had early colon cancer). The test, performed by a gastroenterologist or surgeon, is repeated every decade thereafter if you have no polyps or a family history of colon cancer.

Why you need it: To ensure that you don't have any abnormal growths and, ultimately, prevent colon cancer.

Dental Exam

Who needs it: Everyone

Why you need it: Aside from detecting cavities, your dentist can detect over 120 medical conditions, from thyroid problems to digestive disorders, in their early stages. Most important: People with moderate or advanced gum disease may have more cardiovascular disease than those with healthy gums.

Eye Exam

Who needs it: Everyone needs an annual eye exam (including a vision test and comprehensive eye health screening conducted by an ophthalmologist) every one to two years once you turn 18. At age 60, eye screenings should be an annual event.

Why you need it: Your eye doctor not only detects whether you need glasses; he or she can see changes in your eyes that can be related to diabetes or uncontrolled blood pressure.

Hearing Test

Who needs it: Everyone should have an audiogram, conducted by an audiologist or ear, nose and throat physician, every decade until 50 and then every three years after that.

Why you need it: To see if you've experienced any hearing loss and to evaulate the need for a hearing device. 

Lipid Profile

Who needs it: All adults beginning at age 20.

Why you need it: A lipid panel is a fasting blood test that measures your total cholesterol level, triglyceride level, HDL (good) cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol as well as ratios of total cholesterol to HDL and the ratio of LDL to HDL, all of which gives your physician a treatment plan, whether it's medicines, diet changes, weight loss or exercise.

Mammogram

Who needs it: Women beginning at age 40 (or earlier if you have a family member diagnosed with breast cancer at an early age, if you've never had children or if you carry the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation).

Why you need it: This X-ray, which is performed at a mammography center or at a hospital, screens for breast cancer in its early stages, detecting abnormal growths, lumps or changes in breast tissue.

Mole Screening

Who needs it: Everyone

Why you need it: Skin cancer diagnoses occur more times per year than any other kinds of cancer. Your physician (or dermatologist) will survey your entire body, looking closely at all of your moles, zeroing in on irregular or atypical moles, moles that have grown or ones that are multi-colored.

Pap Smear/ HPV test

Who needs it: Women ages 21 or older (or under 21 if you're sexually active)

Why you need it: This scraping of cells, conducted by your gynecologist during an annual pelvic exam, detects abnormal cells or cell changes on the cervix that may lead to cervical cancer or HPV (human papillomavirus), a leading cause of cervical cancer.

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