Time to get back on track with women’s health screenings | Bakersfield life
It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has turned our lives upside down. Among the disruptions – during the lockdown millions of women skipped important health checks, according to a study by the American Cancer Society.
If you stray — or just want to revisit the recommended screenings — don’t worry, but take steps to put your health first.
Recommendations from some leading health organizations can give you an idea of what you need to be scheduled. It is also important for women to know that risk factors may mean starting certain screenings at a younger age or having them more often than women without the same risk factors.
Heart Health Screening
According to the American Heart Association, blood pressure is one of the most important screenings because high blood pressure dramatically increases the risk of heart disease and stroke — and it usually has no symptoms.
If your blood pressure is below 120/80, the AHA advises you to have it checked at least once every two years, starting at age 20. If your blood pressure is higher, your doctor may want to check it more often.
Also starting at age 20, the heart association suggests having a fasting lipoprotein profile taken every four to six years. This is a blood test that lets you know your numbers for LDL (bad) cholesterol and HDL (good) cholesterol. Your doctor may want to check your cholesterol levels more often if you have risk factors or are over 40.
Your weight, waist circumference, and BMI (body mass index) may also be part of a heart screening, along with a discussion of smoking, physical activity, and diet.
And since diabetes increases the risk of heart disease about four times in women, your doctor may also ask you to take a fasting blood sugar test. The American Diabetes Association recommends that everyone be tested for risk of future diabetes and prediabetes starting at age 45 and every three years thereafter if the test is normal.
The American Cancer Society offers guidance on screening for a number of types of cancer, two of which particularly affect women: cervical cancer and breast cancer.
According to the ACS, cervical cancer screening should begin at age 25 and continue until age 65 and even those vaccinated against HPV should still follow the screening recommendations for their age group. A PAP test every three years or a primary HPV (human papilloma virus) test every five years are among the options.
The ACS does not recommend annual breast cancer screening with a mammogram before age 40. The Cancer Society says women between the ages of 40 and 44 should have the option of starting annual mammograms if they wish. Women between the ages of 45 and 54 should have a mammogram every year, and women 55 and older can continue every year or go every two years.
“Screening should continue as long as a woman is healthy and expected to live 10 more years or more,” according to the ACS website.
Many screenings can be done during a health exam, according to Dr. Kyle Heber, a board-certified internal medicine physician affiliated with Adventist Health Bakersfield.
“If a woman has delayed her routine cancer screenings, whether pre-menopausal or post-menopausal, the next best step is simply to schedule a checkup of the healthy woman with her primary care physician or gynecologist. “, said Dr. Heber.
“If she does in fact need an updated Pap smear, it can be done by the provider at this visit and the appropriate imaging study for her breast cancer screening can be ordered at the same time and followed up during of a subsequent visit,” he said.
If a woman strongly prefers to try to cram everything into one visit, Dr. Heber suggests that she call her provider’s office ahead of time to request an order for her routine mammogram so she can complete it and have the results available for review during the visit. .
Bakersfield Heart Hospital Offerings
Cancer screenings are important, but according to the Women’s Heart Center at Bakersfield Heart Hospital, many women don’t realize that heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States.
“One in eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime, but only one in 40 will die from it,” Bakersfield Heart Hospital reports on its website. “One in three women will die from coronary heart disease or a heart attack. A third of these heart attacks will go undetected. More than one in five women will have some form of cardiovascular disease.
Fortunately, the hospital offers two easy ways for women to get in touch with their heart health.
You can find a free heart health assessment that you can do yourself online at bit.ly/3QumMh7.
Or you can sign up for a health screening which includes a blood pressure test, cholesterol screening, heart risk assessment, one-on-one consultation with a heart health expert, and a heart disease risk survey and report. that you can bring to your primary care. doctor or cardiologist, if applicable. A $25 fee — non-reimbursable by most insurance plans — is charged for this service, which you can schedule by calling 661-316-6000 or online at bit.ly/3zBHd4W.
Dignity Health Women’s Center
Dignity Health Women’s Center – Southwest also offers a range of health screenings for women, including an online assessment of risk factors for bladder control problems (dignityhlth.org/3Q7XqWp). Dignity Health also offers health screenings at various locations in Bakersfield. Check the schedule online at dignityhlth.org/3QsUiEp or call 661-861-0852.