Heading for 40? Here Are The Preventive Screenings To Consider
Everybody ages; it's a fact of life. And as we do, certain things just don't work as well as they used to. Vision can get blurry, we ache a little more in the morning, and joints creak that didn't before. Unfortunately, there are some more serious health concerns that people turning 40 should be aware of as well. The good news is, there are preventive screenings that can help you keep an eye on your health and catch problems before they develop.
Cardiovascular disease shows up in a lot of ways
Cardiovascular disease (or CVD) occurs when the blood vessels in your body get blocked with an arterial plaque made up of cholesterol. It's extremely common, too. Nearly half of all Americans have some kind of cardiovascular disease.
CVD is progressive, which means it starts out as a relatively minor danger to your health. People with low levels of plaque buildup won't experience any symptoms and most likely don't even know they have it. However, if left untreated the blockage gets larger and larger until it results in something serious.
CVD gets different names depending on where it shows up in your body. Carotid artery disease affects the carotid arteries, which are the large blood vessels that carry blood up to your brain. If one of these vessels gets blocked, it quickly results in a stroke. The brain needs oxygen to function and, if it doesn't get it, the signs start showing up and immediate medical attention is required.
If the blocked arteries are in your legs, it could result in peripheral artery disease (or PAD). In this case, the blocked arteries can result in severe pain in the legs.
Checking for most forms of cardiovascular disease is quick, easy, and painless. Trained technicians use an ultrasound machine, the same kind used for pregnant women, and scan the arteries inside the body. This lets them see if there are any clogged arteries, where they are, and how severe the blockage is.
These scans let you catch even low-level blockages that may otherwise have missed. With the results in-hand, you can talk to your doctor about what you can do to reverse the amount of cholesterol in your system and reduce your risk for developing any kind of cardiovascular disease.
Abdominal aortic aneurysms can be a threat to your life but can be detected prior to rupture
An abdominal aortic aneurysm is another issue with blood. Your aorta is the main artery that originates in your heart and travels down your body to deliver blood. Sometimes, its walls can weaken and become thin while the aorta balloons up in size. When this happens, the aorta can rupture.
Assessing the risk of an AAA is very similar to the procedure we mentioned for carotid artery disease and peripheral artery disease in that they all use an ultrasound machine. However, instead of looking for a blockage, the technician will take measurements of the aorta to make sure it is a normal, healthy size. Because they use the same equipment, many people will get this screening done at the same time as a CVD screening.
Keeping an eye out for an abdominal aortic aneurysm is important for everyone, but especially men. Men are 4-5x more likely to develop one than women. It is surprising more people aren't aware of this health risk, especially because 80-90% of ruptured aneurysms result in death.
Heart arrhythmias are easy to miss
"Heart arrhythmia" is a blanket term used for when your heart starts beating irregularly. This can show up in several different ways, and one of the most common is atrial fibrillation, or AFib.
With AFib, the upper chambers of the heart quiver (fibrillate) rather than beat. This can cause blood to pool in the atria, clot, and possibly shoot off (embolize) which lead to a stroke or problems with other organs.
In many cases, AFib symptoms can be mild enough that people don't even know they have a heart condition. Also, symptoms can come and go, which may lead people to believe that it is less serious than it actually is. Common signs of AFib include:
A racing or fluttering heartbeat
An uneven pulse, shortness of breath
To check for AFib, a technician needs to monitor the heart over a short period of time. To do this, they attach painless electrodes to the ankles and wrists, which are the easiest places to get a reading. They then monitor an EKG machine to make sure the heart is beating as regularly as it should.
If any irregularities are found, you can take your readout to a doctor to have them help you develop the next steps in treating the issue. The good news is many cases of AFib are treatable and sometimes reversible.
Now is the time to start monitoring bone health
A loss of bone density and strength is, unfortunately, one of the more common health issues facing people as they age. And, like all health conditions, the earlier you start monitoring it, the better.
Your body is constantly replacing old bone tissues with new ones; it's what keeps them strong and healthy. As we age, our bodies can start having trouble creating enough new bone tissue to keep up. This condition is also known as osteoporosis.
With osteoporosis, the bones become brittle and are much more likely to fracture or break. Many people don't realize just how common injuries due to osteoporosis actually are. Fractures from osteoporosis are more common than heart attack, stroke, and breast cancer combined.
While most people think of this as an issue exclusively in older people, both men and women start losing bone density in their mid-30s.
To assess your risk of osteoporosis, you can take a bone density test. In one of these tests, a technician uses a pulse-echo ultrasound on the bone. The easiest place on the body to do one of these tests is the shin, since that is the bone closest to the surface of the skin. The process itself is quick and painless. The results are then sent off to a lab to be verified.
Get all these preventive screenings at once
At Life Line Screening, we've put all of these common preventive screenings into one convenient package. By doing this, we're able to cover as many potential health issues as possible in a short amount of time. After all, if you're going to take the time to get a preventive screening, it should at least be easy and convenient.
Everyone gets older but having the best possible quality of life by taking control of your health is a decision you can make now. Click the button below to learn more about how you can book a screening near you.