When a woman reaches 50, her body matures and goes through numerous changes. These body change needs to be taken into consideration and every woman needs to pay more attention to her health and wellness.
Women over 50 should maintain a good relationship with their doctor & keep regular medical appointments. For women over 50 regular check-ups & some specialist care can be the greatest gift you can give yourself. This is important as the majority of the women post their childbearing years stop going to a gynaecologist & see only family doctors. However every woman needs a mix of both – a gynaecologist for women health issues and a family physician for general health complications.
Essential screening that a woman should get done post 50:
- Diabetes Screening: It is important to have your blood sugar tested regularly to see if you have diabetes. Diabetes is a disease if untreated can affect your heart, kidneys, brain, nerves, eyes & feet. If you are obese then try to reduce weight by eating a healthy & well-balanced diet with a reduction in saturated fats & refined sugar
- Mammogram: more than 3 million cases of breast cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States with most of those occurring in women age around 40& older. A regular mammogram is important for early detection. Combined early detection & newer treatments’ improve the survival rates.
- BRCA 1 &BRCA2: If you have a strong family history of breast cancer & ovarian cancer or peritoneal cancer, you should speak with your doctor about getting tested with the brca1 &brca2 mutation. Brca1&brca2 mutation accounts for 5—10% of all breast cancer& 15% of ovarian cancer.
- Breast Self-Examination: Some health care professionals suggest doing self-examination each month. First symptoms noticed by most women are a lump in the breast. Women can experience nipple discharge and pain which is persistent, dimpling of the breast. If you notice any of the symptoms, then consult your doctor.
- PAP’s Test and Pelvic Examination: Get a PAP test every three years. HPV test can also be done. With this, PAP test screening for abnormalities that could indicate pre or early cervical cancer can also be done.
If you have risk factors like previous abnormal screening, multiple sex partners, weak immune system, DES exposure in vitro or HIV infection, you should have a PAP test every year. If you had a hysterectomy without removal of the cervix, you should consult to follow the guidelines.
Don’t confine your annual or semi-annual PAP test to the gynaecological examination. ACOG recommends that all women above 50 age have a gynaecological examination including pelvic examination annually.
- Cholesterol Test: This is a simple blood test to check your risk of heart disease. The doctor will check your BMI, blood pressure, smoking status, history of diabetes or heart disease and tell the risk. High blood pressure can put you at higher risk of heart disease, heart attacks and stroke. Excess salt intake can prove to be fatal in patients with high blood pressure. No more than 6gm per day of salt should be taken.
- BMD: After the menopause, the rate of bone loss increases significantly. 20% of women in their 50 already has osteoporosis. Approximately 50% of women over the age of 50 will sustain a bone fracture of some kind in life. Women of this age are recommended daily 700 mg of calcium through calcium-rich products like milk, yoghurt, baked beans and tofu, is important. You also need a well-balanced diet to provide all the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that your bones need. Vitamin D is essential for good bone health. Sunlight is the best source of Vitamin D. Fish such as salmon and tuna once a week is essential. Boost your bone strength by walking, exercise and dancing.
- Bone Mineral Density: This is an x-ray which measures your bone mineral density. The lower the bone density, the greater the risk of bone fractures. Other tests which can be done are colour screening for cancer, dental examination, skin examination and eye check-up.
- Immunization: Annual flu shot and pneumonia vaccine once only. Every 10 years, tetanus/diphtheria shot.