Health screenings: A smart choice
From the Summer 2007 Issue of Discover RUSH Oak Park
“If you’re smart, you won’t go looking for trouble!”
Those are every mother’s words, and years ago, that might have been true. But at this point in your life, it’s not—at least when it comes to your health.
The fact is, looking for trouble by undergoing recommended screening exams is a very smart thing to do. It could even save your life.
“Screenings play an important role in maintaining good health,” says Kari Fatta, RN, MSN, CIC, clinical nurse coordinator of the AGE-WISE program at RUSH Oak Park Hospital. “When you’re screening for something, you’re hoping to either prevent it or catch it in its early stages.”
Often, the earlier you find a health problem—or potential for one—the easier it is to do something about it.
There are general guidelines about when and how often to be tested for various health problems. But because many factors, such as family history and lifestyle, can affect your disease risk, it’s important to personalize your screening schedule with your physician, Fatta says.
The following are some key screening tests available through RUSH Oak Park Hospital:
Heart disease. Tests that measure your height in relation to your weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol can offer insight into your risk for cardiovascular problems. Diet, exercise, and sometimes medication can make a difference.
Osteoporosis. This bone disease is a particular danger for women who have gone through menopause, because it can lead to life-altering bone fractures. But treatments are available to strengthen your bones. A bone mineral density test can tell you if you have the disease or are at risk.
Cancer. Various screenings can help identify skin, breast, cervical, prostate, and colon cancer. Colonoscopy screenings can be particularly useful because they make it possible to remove precancerous growths before they become cancer.
Diabetes. A blood test measures glucose levels. If you have diabetes, treatment may prevent complications. When tests reveal you’re at risk for the disease, diet, and exercise may lower that risk.
Feet. People with diabetes are at risk for foot problems that may lead to amputation if untreated. Foot screenings are also important for older people because foot problems may contribute to falls.
Ask your doctor about the screenings that might benefit you, and whether they are covered by your health plan or Medicare - many are.
“You definitely need to be proactive,” Fatta says. “But you can’t pursue what you don’t know about. Stay informed about the latest screenings that are appropriate for you relative to your age, gender, and family history, and discuss these with your physician.”