February 24, 2020
Turning 40 is a major milestone. It's also often a time of reflection and transition. While age is just a number, the risk for developing certain diseases does increase as we age. And if you haven’t made healthy eating, exercise, and annual health checkups a priority during your 20s and 30s, you may be more prone to certain health complications, like high cholesterol, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
This is why preventive health screenings are so important. If you’re about to turn 40, give yourself the gift of health by staying on top of these recommended health screenings.
The risk for prostate increases with age, and while there’s no way to completely prevent it, early diagnosis and treatment can lead to better outcomes.
At your next checkup, talk to your doctor about possible risk factors for prostate cancer. If you’re not considered high risk, your doctor may recommend that you start screenings at age 45, as suggested by the Prostate Cancer Foundation. Prostate cancer screenings involve the PSA test, which measures the levels of prostate-specific antigen in your blood, and the digital rectal exam to check for an enlarged prostate.
While the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends annual mammograms to begin at 50 years of age, many institutions, like the Mayo Clinic, offer them to patients beginning at age 40. Talk to your doctor about your individual risk factors and when mammogram screenings should begin. Women should also continue to get pelvic exams and pap smears to screen for cervical cancer.
Colorectal screenings are recommended once you turn 45 years old. A colonoscopy should be performed every 10 years, and a flexible sigmoidoscopy, which just examines the lower colon, needs to be completed every five years. A stool sample may also be checked for blood every year as an added precautionary measure. Here is the full list of cancer screenings advised by the American Cancer Society while in your 40s.
Annual wellness checkups with your primary care doctor are also necessary to ensure your cholesterol, blood pressure, fasting blood glucose, and weight are at healthy levels. These checkups are also a great time to talk about any immunizations you may need. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an up-to-date vaccine schedule here.
According to the American Optometric Association, many adults find they need glasses for reading or driving during their 40s. The risk for glaucoma and macular degeneration also increases with age. For these reasons, eye doctors advise an annual eye exam every year in your 40s.
By keeping up with recommended health screenings and maintaining an open line of communication with your doctor, you can begin the next decade of your life with confidence and peace of mind about your health.
A variety of preventive care and screenings are covered by health insurance; some at with no copay. Check with your insurance provider for details about your coverage for preventive care.
Information on this site is provided for informational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or other medical professional. You should not use the information contained herein for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication. If you have, or suspect that you have, a medical problem, promptly contact your health care provider.