From cholesterol to diabetes screening, here’s your quick-reference checklist for recommended health tests at every age.
Staying on top of your health from the get-go can help you live longer and feel younger. Use this checklist of must-have health tests to make sure you get all your recommended screenings.
At Every Age
- Blood pressure: Get a blood pressure reading every time you visit the doctor, and at least every two years. If your numbers are above 120/80 mm Hg, check your blood pressure yearly. Keeping your blood pressure at a healthy 110/70 mm Hg can make your RealAge up to 8.9 years younger!
- Cholesterol: All adults 20 years or older should have their total, HDL, and LDL cholesterol, as well as triglycerides, tested every five years. Your doctor may recommend more frequent screenings if your total cholesterol level is 200 mg/dL or higher, you’re older than 45 years; your HDL (good) cholesterol is less than 40 mg/dL, or you have other risk factors for heart disease, such as family history, diabetes, tobacco use, high blood pressure, or a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher.
- HIV: An estimated 25% of Americans with HIV don’t know they have it. That’s why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that everyone get tested, even if they think they’re not at risk.
In your 40s and 50s
- Diabetes: Adults 45 years and older should be tested for type 2 diabetes every three years. However, anyone whose blood pressure is greater than 135/80 mm Hg should be screened, regardless of age. If you’re diagnosed with prediabetes, you can take steps to prevent full-blown diabetes. If you discover you have type 2 diabetes, aggressively managing the disease can make your RealAge as much as 7.3 years younger.
- Colon cancer screening: Colon cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer deaths among men, even though it has a 90% survival rate when caught early. All men older than 50 should get screened with a colonoscopy every three to five years, depending on what the doctor advises.
- Prostate cancer screening: Starting at age 45, men should have a digital rectal exam and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test as a benchmark for future tests, since PSA levels vary between men and tend to rise with age. Men whose PSA levels climb steeply over a short period are more likely to have prostate cancer than those who don’t see significant changes.
Your Golden Years and Beyond
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm screening: Smoked at least 100 cigarettes in your life? If so, or if you have a family history of abdominal aortic aneurysm, you should be screened between the ages of 65 and 75. It’s a free, one-time ultrasound covered by Medicare.
- Bone mineral density test: All men 70 or older should have their bone mineral density tested. Men over 50 with risk factors for osteoporosis, such as low body weight, family history, or broken bones, should also be screened.