What Basic Health Screening Tests Are and Which Ones You Should Get Regularly
Basic health screening tests are a category of medical tests that doctors use to determine the presence of diseases and adverse health conditions, prior to the onset of signs or symptoms. They are most often used to find health problems early in their development when these issues are more easily treated. As a preventative health measure, getting screened is one of the most important things you can do for yourself to stay healthy.
Getting recommended screenings is critical to catch health issues early on, but it is not always easy or cheap — especially if your insurance has high deductibles or you are uninsured. By signing up for Mira for just $45 per month, your copay will be all-inclusive, covering health screen tests and much more. Mira makes it easy, transparent, and cheap to access the healthcare you need. Sign up today and start saving immediately!
Different Health Screening Tests
Several tests exist to help you to identify whether you are at risk for diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, cancer, and more. While it can seem frightening to learn about your level of risk for certain diseases, knowing your status ahead of time can help you manage health problems before they become more severe.
Below we dive into different things that these tests can look for, when you should get tested, and how it could impact you.
Governmental health organizations recommend a blood test to screen for cholesterol for all men 35 and older and for men aged 20 to 35 who are at high risk of heart disease. Women 20 years and older at high risk of heart disease should also be screened. At present, there are no guidelines for or against screening in men 20 to 35 years old or for women 20 and over who are not at a risk of developing heart disease. However, as a precautionary measure, the American Heart Association recommends screening all adults over age 20 approximately every five years.
Usually conducted through a lipid panel, these tests will indicate your levels of “good” cholesterol, “bad” cholesterol, and other fatty molecules in your body. When there is too much cholesterol in your blood, it can clog your arteries, forcing your heart to work harder to pump blood throughout your body. Therefore, it is critical that you know if you are at risk for high cholesterol.
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
Hypertension screening using a standard blood pressure test is recommended for adults 18 years old and older. These tests are administered using a sleeve around your upper arm and are painless and easy. High blood pressure can lead to several health conditions including heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and aneurysm. Accordingly, getting your blood pressure checked is an easy and safe way to manage your blood pressure before it leads to more negative health consequences.
Type II Diabetes is an impairment in the way the body regulates and uses sugar. Guidelines recommend type 2 diabetes screening for asymptomatic adults only if they have blood pressure greater than 135/80. In addition, the American Diabetes Association recommends screening all adults over the age of 45. Depending on risk factors and body mass index (BMI), some younger adults should also be screened.
Screening usually takes the form of blood tests that measure levels of blood glucose, such as the A1C test. If the results of the test align with levels of glucose consistent with diabetic patients, it is possible that you have diabetes.
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Colorectal cancer (also known as colon cancer, bowel cancer, and rectal cancer) is a type of cancer that affects the colon and the rectum. This type of cancer is usually at the lower end of the bowel and is relatively common throughout the United States. Both men and women can get colorectal cancer, so it is recommended that adults aged 50 to 75 be screened approximately every ten years. Individuals 75 and older should only be screened if they are at average risk of developing colorectal cancer. Those older than 85 should not be screened.
There are several tests that can be used to detect the presence of colorectal cancers, and the exact frequency at which you get tested will depend on the type of test that your doctor deems suitable. Some of these tests include colonoscopies, virtual colonoscopies, flexible sigmoidoscopies, and barium enemas.
Prostate cancer is a type of cancer that affects men’s prostate, a small walnut-shaped gland that produces seminal fluid. Very common throughout the United States, prostate cancer has a relatively high survival rate — especially when caught early due to screening tests. Current guidelines recommend that men aged 50 years and older talk to their doctor about getting routinely screened for prostate cancer.
Screening for prostate cancer generally involves a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test or a digital rectal examination. With a PSA test, blood is drawn to determine levels of antibodies only made by the prostate gland. If these antibody levels are higher than usual, it may be indicative of prostate cancer. Alternatively, a digital rectal examination is when a doctor inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into a man’s rectum to manually feel if anything is abnormal.
Breast cancer is a type of cancer that primarily affects women’s breasts. Common throughout the United States, breast cancers come in many forms and are often treatable if detected early. Guidelines recommend that women aged 50 and older have a mammogram approximately every two years.
A mammogram is the most frequently used screening tool to detect breast cancers among women. During this test, low energy X-rays are used to examine the breasts for the presence of cancerous masses. Mammograms are low risk and relatively painless, but nevertheless highly effective at detecting breast cancers.
Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that affects the lowermost part of the uterus in women. Catching cancers early can be critical to our ability to treat them effectively. Therefore, screening is particularly important in women who have been sexually active and have a cervix. Routine screening is recommended for women older than 65 — even if they have had recent normal Pap smears. Additionally, screening is recommended for women 21 years and older or within three years of becoming sexually active. At age, 30, women who have had three normal Pap smear results in a row can begin being screened every couple of years.
In general, cervical cancer screenings are conducted through the use of a Pap smear, wherein cells are collected from your cervix to determine if cancerous cells are present. HPV tests, which are a strong indicator of cervical cancer, can also be used, but this is less common.
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that destroys memory and other important mental functions. Currently, there are no guidelines for or against screening in older adults. However, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America emphasizes going to the doctor at the first sign of symptoms, which can include: memory loss, confusion, inability to learn new things, shortened attention span, and difficulty organizing thoughts.
Where and How to Get Basic Health Screening Tests
Several healthcare locations offer basic health screening tests. However, no single location will be able to offer them all. Depending on the level of care and complexity that the health screening test requires, you may need to go to different medical locations to access care. In addition, many tests require a doctor’s prescription or a visit to a healthcare facility. Under most circumstances, you will not be able to access many of these health screening tests without having previously consulted a physician.
Outlined below are just a few options for you to access screening tests.
Most often screening is conducted through your primary care physician; if more complex screening is required (e.g. colonoscopy), your doctor may write you a referral to see a specialist
Most urgent care clinics offer the major types of blood work and procedures used for basic health screening. However, complex procedures such as colonoscopies may not be offered. For these types of procedures, you should see your primary care physician.
For just $45 a month, you can gain access to nearly all of the basic health screening tests described above. With Mira’s $99 copay, your primary care visit or urgent care visit will be all-inclusive, meaning that you don’t have to worry about paying out-of-pocket for any basic health screening tests. In addition, with Mira's lab panel, you might not even have to see a doctor for many of the basic health screening tests that require blood work. Join Mira today and simplify your healthcare experience.
Risk Factors for Basic Health Screening Tests
Risk factors determine the things you should be screened for. These risk factors include:
- Gender Identity
- Family History of Disease
Depending on these factors, your medical provider may determine that you need to be screened for things, such as:
- Certain types of cancer
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Osteoporosis or weak bones
- STIs (sexually transmitted infections)
- Mental health conditions (e.g. depression)
Getting screened early can save your life. However, the type of screenings you should receive and how often you should receive them depends on several risk factors. Cost should never be a barrier to healthcare. Sign up for Mira today and get screened with a primary care provider or through Mira’s lab panel immediately. Sign up today and schedule your appointment.