On Your Health

Check back to the INTEGRIS On Your Health blog for the latest health and wellness information for all Oklahomans, published three times a week.

Important Preventive Screenings for Middle-Aged Adults in Oklahoma

Some say that middle-aged adults are the happiest. Most have mastered their careers, kids are finally grown and out of the house, many have found financial stability, and perhaps most things are just generally less uncertain in midlife. But what about your health in middle age? Unfortunately, middle age can reveal long-standing health issues such as high blood pressure and cholesterol. Middle-aged adults in Oklahoma are especially at risk for diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. Studies have shown that Oklahoma has the third highest death rate for heart disease and the fourth highest death rate for stroke in the nation. These common preventative screenings can help you and your doctor develop a plan to help you live a healthy lifestyle in your middle age. If we can work together and keep up with these preventative screenings, we can make Oklahoma a healthier state!

Weight Screening

Oklahoma currently ranks as the sixth most obese state in the nation. Keeping your weight at a healthy level is one of the best ways to stay healthy, as it affects all areas of health in your body! By the time you are in middle age, your metabolism has already started to slow down, causing you to gain weight more easily than in earlier years. Not only should you be extra cautious of what you eat, but you should be aware of how much you are exercising as well. Too much fat around the middle section of your torso can put you at risk for many diseases including hypertension (high blood pressure) and other heart issues.

Colonoscopy

Colon cancer is the third most common form of cancer in Oklahoma, but fatalities from the disease have significantly decreased because of colon screenings. At the age of 50, doctors recommend a colonoscopy for everyone at least every 10 years, no matter the medical history. However, if you have a family history of colon cancer, screenings should be done as early as 35 years old. This screening can prevent colon cancer by spotting pre-cancerous polyps and removing them before they develop.

Blood Pressure

Starting at age 40, you should plan to have your blood pressure evaluated by a physician every two years (unless recommended otherwise because of your medical history). Known as the “silent killer,” high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can cause damage to organs as well as heart attacks and strokes. Stroke was the fifth leading cause of death in Oklahoma in 2012, resulting in 1,881 deaths.

Diabetes

In 2012, Oklahoma ranked fourth highest in deaths caused by diabetes in the nation (OK State Department of Health). Starting at age 45, you should begin diabetes screenings every three years. However, if you are overweight, your doctor may recommend screenings even earlier. Untreated, diabetes can cause kidney failure and other ailments.

Cholesterol (Heart Disease)

Unfortunately, heart disease is the number one cause of death for Oklahomans – keeping your cholesterol in check can help reduce your risk! High cholesterol is often the result of unhealthy diet choices, which means you can prevent it. Having regular cholesterol screenings can help you evaluate your diet and exercise so you can prevent heart disease.

Mammogram

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer diagnosis for women in Oklahoma. Early detection of breast cancer can save your life, so have a mammogram every year, starting at age 40. If you have a family history of breast cancer, regular screenings are especially vital for your health.

Prostate Exam

Cancer is the leading cause of death in Oklahoma males age 55-74 years old,  and prostate cancer is the most diagnosed. The American Cancer Society recommends that men begin regular prostate exams starting at age 40 (previously 50 years old). “I tell my patients who are concerned about prostate cancer to know their own risk profile,” said Dr. Shripal Bhavsar, a radiation oncologist who treats prostate cancer patients at INTEGRIS. “Important risk factors include older age and African American race, as well as a family history of prostate cancer. For these men, it is particularly important to have a discussion about screening with their primary doctor."

Immunizations

Though not technically a screening, you should evaluate your immunization record beginning at age 40. Every 10 years, you need a tetanus booster shot and whooping cough vaccine. For adults born after 1956, experts also recommend the MMR vaccine because it wasn’t required for school-aged children until recent years. Talk to your primary care doctor or an INTEGRIS infectious disease physician about what vaccines you should be receiving. Although no one likes to think about potential health problems, the only way to prevent serious issues is through these regular screenings. By simply staying on top of your screenings during middle age you can vastly increase your chances for a longer life, and stay active and happy for years to come. For more information about screenings, contact your primary care physician or call one of the INTEGRIS primary care clinics in your area.

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