One Doctor's Opinion
Aloha! Welcome To The "50th State"...
February 25th, 2011

Oops...sorry... What I really meant was welcome to the state of 50...years young that is. Here is a topic I get asked about all the time. So I decided to FINALLY put a quick set of guidelines together guessed it....all the cool things that happen right around the age of 50 and older. The following is a compilation of information found from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, The Cleveland Clinic, and Health Maintenance Guidelines from BlueCross BlueShield.

These health maintenance items are meant to be purely a guideline and should not be taken as the absolute law on what should be happening when you reach age 50. Your own physician is your best resource on what kinds of health maintenance you should receive around this age. Your individual situation will be different from anyone else's and your own physician may design a particular schedule of events according to what you need done. Some items may occur later and others may be done much earlier than other people for various reasons. Wow! There was the disclaimer. Got it?

So you find that you have reached the magic number of 50. The following is a general guide as to what you may expect as far as routine health maintenance in your coming years:

  • A comprehensive health maintenance exam (physical exam) about every 1-2 years
  • General health statistics (weight, body mass index, blood pressure) about every 1-2 years
  • General exam for obvious signs of cancer (skin, mouth, lymph nodes, testicles) about every 1-2 years
  • A complete breast exam by a physician yearly starting at about age 50
  • Self testicular and breast exams every month
  • For women, depending on your gynecologist's discretion, you may need a Pap Smear, Human Papilloma Virus, and Chlamydia screening between every 1-3 years according to your particular circumstances. Sometimes these exams can terminate at age 65 to 70--again at the discretion of your doctor
  • For men, yearly Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) testing and digital prostate exams
  • For women, yearly mammogram
  • For women, Dexa Scan (osteoporosis screening) with a baseline around age 50 or at menopause, then usually every 2 years or earlier at the discretion of the doctor or as circumstances require
  • Screening for alcohol abuse, drug abuse, depression, smoking at every health maintenance exam
  • Lipid panel (cholesterol screening) at least every 5 years unless needed earlier due to cholesterol problems
  • Diabetes screening blood tests every 3 years or more often if there are diabetes or elevated blood sugar issues found
  • Blood pressure screening at least every 1-2 years
  • HIV screening should be done at least once along the way--more often if higher risk activity
  • Annual stool occult blood screening
  • Screening colonoscopy every 10 years or flexible sigmoidoscopy (shorter than a colonoscopy) every 5 years--either one might be done at a more frequent basis depending on findings or at the discretion of the physician
  • Influenza vaccine every year unless contraindicated
  • Pneumococcal vaccine at age 65 unless contraindicated. If high risk adult (cancer, lung disease, diabetes, heart disease, immune system problems) then revaccinate in 5 years. High risk groups may also be able to obtain vaccine at an earlier age
  • Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis vaccine every 10 years up to age 65. Over age 65--one dose...unless contraindicated
  • Varicella-Zoster (Shingles) vaccine at age 60 unless contraindicated

There you have it... as straightforward as I can make a set of complicated recommendations.

As always, if you have questions about your health, seek the advice of your own physician as he/she knows your medical history the best. Your own doctor can help you design a health maintenance program that is just right for your particular situation.

So until next time.....Stay Healthy Hawaii!


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