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Women's Health

Women: Stay Healthy at Any Age

woman and daughterUse the information here to help you stay healthy. Learn about which screening tests to get, whether you need medicines to prevent diseases, and steps you can take for good health.

 

Get the Screenings You Need

Screenings are tests that look for diseases before you have symptoms. Blood pressure checks and mammograms are examples of screenings.

You can get some screenings, such as blood pressure readings, in your doctor's office. Others, such as mammograms, need special equipment, so you may need to go to a different office.

After a screening test, ask when you will see the results and who to talk to about them.

Ask your health care team whether a mammogram is right for you based on your age, family history, overall health, and personal concerns.

 

Have a Pap smear every 1 to 3 years if you are 21 to 65 years old and have been sexually active. If you are older than 65 and recent Pap smears were normal, you do not need a Pap smear. If you have had a hysterectomy for a reason other than cancer, you do not need a Pap smear.

 

Sexually transmitted diseases can make it hard to get pregnant, may affect your baby, and can cause other health problems.

 

Have a screening test for colorectal cancer starting at age 50. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, you may need to be screened earlier. Several different tests can detect this cancer. Your health care team can help you decide which is best for you.

 

Your emotional health is as important as your physical health. Talk to your health care team about being screened for depression, especially if during the last 2 weeks:

 

Get screened for diabetes if your blood pressure is higher than 135/80 or if you take medication for high blood pressure.  Diabetes - or "high blood sugar" - can cause problems with your:

 

Starting at age 18, have your blood pressure checked at least every 2 years. High blood pressure is 140/90 or higher. High blood pressure can cause stroke, heart attack, kidney and eye problems, and heart failure.

 

Starting at age 20, have your cholesterol checked regularly if:

 

Talk with your health care team about HIV screening if any of these apply to you:

 

Have a screening test at age 65 to make sure your bones are strong. If you are younger than 65, talk to your health care team about whether you should be tested.

 

The best way to learn if you are overweight or obese is to find your body mass index (BMI). You can find your BMI by entering your height and weight into a BMI calculator, such as the one available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmicalc.htm.   A BMI between 18.5 and 25 indicates a normal weight. Persons with a BMI of 30 or higher may be obese.

If you are obese, talk to your doctor or nurse about seeking intensive counseling and help with changing your behaviors to lose weight. Overweight and obesity can lead to diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

 

Take Preventive Medicines if You Need Them

If you are 55 or older, ask your health care team if you should take aspirin to prevent strokes.

 

If your mother, sister, or daughter has had breast cancer, talk to your doctor about whether you should take medicines to prevent breast cancer.

 

Do not use estrogen to prevent heart disease or other diseases. If you need relief from symptoms of menopause, talk with your health care team.

 

 

Take Steps to Good Health

 

It's Your Body!

You know your body better than anyone else. Always tell your doctor or nurse about any changes in your health, including your vision and hearing. Ask them about being checked for any condition you are concerned about, not just the ones here. If you are wondering about diseases such as glaucoma or skin cancer, for example, ask about them.

 

Get More Information on Good Health

Questions are the Answer (AHRQ)

Women's Health (MedlinePlus)

WomensHealth.gov

 

Source:

Women: Stay Healthy at Any Age. AHRQ Publication No. 10-IP002-A, September 2010. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/ppip/healthywom.htm 

 

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Last Reviewed: Aug 19, 2014