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Health at Every Age

Published April 2022 | In Spring 2022

Taking care of your health is a lifelong process that includes regular preventative screenings. It’s important to keep up with screenings, but it all starts with understanding your personal health risks and the tests recommended at your stage in life.

Health at Every Age Media

May is Women’s Health Month and June is Men’s Health Month. Both provide an excellent reminder that an annual visit to your physician is an important step in managing your health. It can help keep track of recommended screenings, but more importantly, give you peace of mind that your health is in expert hands. Lisa Brown, M.D., Family Medicine Provider, Custer Clinic, encourages patients to keep up with their recommended screenings in order to start a foundation their physician can monitor.

“Getting those routine yearly screenings, especially when you’re younger and establishing a baseline, makes a difference,” said Dr. Brown. “Then we have a good foundation we can compare later screenings to, not to mention continuity helps with the overall sensitivity of the screening. This is true for many screenings, such as mammograms.”

Your physician can recognize slight changes over time, and use that information to help you make informed decisions. If you wait until you’re experiencing discomfort, it may require several tests to pinpoint what’s causing your symptoms. Having a relationship with a provider that includes routine testing can help you catch issues early on. Dr. Brown focuses on the preventative nature of screenings with her patients: “For example, when we do regular colonoscopies, it allows us to catch polyps when they’re small and remove them before they can become cancerous,” she explained.

Lisa Brown, M.D., is a board-certified Family Medicine physician at the Monument Health Custer Clinic. She received her medical degree from the University of South Dakota School of Medicine and completed her family medicine residency at the Sioux Falls Family Practice Residency Program in Sioux Falls.

Know your history

The screenings you need are specific to you and your health journey. Your provider will take many factors into account, including your age, weight, prior health concerns and family history. Having that relationship is important, but when you’re seeing a new provider, there are a few things you can do to make your initial visit as productive as possible. Before you go, gather information about your family history, including which health conditions run on one or both sides. You are more likely to have conditions such as cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and diabetes if a close relative has them. Before you get concerned, know that family history doesn’t mean you will have the same health concerns, but discussing it with your physician lets them order additional tests that can help you come up with a plan. Bring your personal health history, including any allergies, surgeries, chronic issues and medications you routinely take.

If you don’t know your family history or have an incomplete picture, don’t let that stop you from seeing a provider. “When someone doesn’t know their family history, we just follow the guidelines for their age, weight and current health, and start there as a baseline,” Dr. Brown said. “If they find out more information from siblings, aunts, uncles or other family members, we can also use that information to move forward.”

Agree on a plan

Beyond your family history, the screenings you require will vary based on factors such as your age, weight and lifestyle habits. Maintaining a healthy weight by eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly is important, as well as reducing risky lifestyle habits like consuming alcohol and smoking. Don’t worry if you’re unsure what steps you can take to improve your health — your provider will discuss your health and recommend lifestyle changes they feel will benefit you.

Guidelines and evidence-based care best practices can change over time, so Monument Health providers work to stay up to date with the latest research and education. They’ll inform you of the changing recommendations, and work with you to come up with a personalized care plan.

“There’s a stock set of screenings per age, but they can be different for everyone,” explained Dr. Brown. “For example, for a teen who has obesity and diabetes in the family, I might screen them for those things early when we otherwise wouldn’t. There are numerous bodies of specialists that provide recommendations, and they aren’t all aligned, so I’ll have a conversation with patients about the varying guidelines to see what fits their needs and insurance coverage.”

Monument Health providers strive to help their patients maintain excellent health throughout life’s journey. But optimum health comes down to having a primary care provider who knows your entire health picture and how to apply current guidelines to your individual situation. It’s an ongoing relationship that we hope to build and grow with each of our patients.

“As humans, we don’t always like to hear bad news, so a lot of times when I recommend screenings and routine visits, people will say ‘why would I want to go looking for trouble?’” said Dr. Brown. “The way I look at it is, you do routine maintenance for your house by cleaning the gutters, or for your car by getting the oil changed. Why wouldn’t you do the same thing for your own health and body? If you start early, and stick with it, we can deal with a lot of health issues before they even have a chance to become a real problem.”

Media

20-39 Men

Screenings:

Annually

  • Blood pressure check
  • Blood test
  • Vision screening
  • STD screening
  • (If sexually active)
  • Vaccinations

Every 5 Years:

  • Blood sugar test
  • Cholesterol test
  • If Needed:
  • Skin check
  • Fertility testing
  • Genetic counseling

Health Risks:

In Your 20s: Melanoma, human papillomavirus (HPV), high cholesterol, high blood pressure, fertility testing and genetic counseling.

In Your 30s: Weight gain, changes in your skin, reproductive difficulties, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, stress, type 2 diabetes and testicular cancer.

Media

20-39 Women

Screenings:

Monthly

  • Self breast exam
  • Annually
  • Clinical breast exam
  • Blood pressure check
  • Blood test
  • Vision screening
  • Vaccinations

Every 3-5 Years:

  • Pelvic exam, pap smear Every 5 Years:
  • Blood sugar test
  • Cholesterol test
  • If Needed:
  • Skin check
  • Fertility testing
  • Mammogram/
  • Genetic counseling

Health Risks:

In Your 20s: Melanoma, human papillomavirus (HPV), cervical Cancer and high cholesterol

In Your 30s: Cervical cancer, breast cancer and type 2 diabetes

Media

40-49 Men

Screenings:

Annually

  • Blood pressure check
  • Blood test
  • Cholesterol testing
  • Prostate exam
  • Eye disease screening
  • Vaccinations

Every 5 Years:

  • Blood sugar testing (Annually if overweight or high risk)
  • Colonoscopy if high risk

Talk To Your Physician: Heart disease screening (If high risk)

Health Risks:

  • Heart disease
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Stress
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Testicular cancer
Media

40-49 Women

Screenings:

Monthly

  • Self breast exam

Annually

  • Clinical breast exam
  • Blood pressure check
  • Blood test
  • Vision screening
  • Cholesterol testing
  • Mammogram
  • Eye disease screening
  • Vaccinations

Every 3-5 Years:

  • Pelvic exam, pap smear Every 5 Years:
  • Blood sugar test
  • Cholesterol test

Talk to your physician:

  • Menopause symptoms
  • Ovarian screening

Health Risks:

  • Heart disease
  • Breast cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
Media

50+ Men

Screenings:

Annually

  • Blood pressure check 
  • blood test
  • prostate exam
  • eye disease screening
  • coronary screening
  • screening for type 2 diabetes
  • skin check
  • vaccinations

Every 2 Years: Bone density testing (DEXA), blood sugar testing, (annually if overweight or high risk), blood
sugar testing (annually if overweight or high risk) and colonoscopy if high risk

Every 3 Years After Age 65: Heart disease screening (if high risk), Glucose check

Every 5 Years: Cholesterol testing

Every 10 Years: Colonoscopy

Health Risks:

  • Stroke
  • Colon cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Arthritis
  • Dementia
  • Depression
Media

50+ Women

Screenings:

Monthly: Self breast exam

Annually

  • Clinical breast exam
  • Blood pressure check
  • Blood test
  • Vision screening
  • Mammogram
  • Skin check
  • Eye disease screening
  • Vaccinations

Every 2 Years: Bone density testing (DEXA), Blood sugar testing

Every 3-5 Years: Pelvic exam, pap smear

Every 5 Years: Cholesterol test

Every 10 Years: Colonoscopy

Talk to your physician: Menopause symptoms

Health Risks:

  • Stroke
  • Colon cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Dementia
  • Depression

“It’s important to have a consistent relationship with a provider. You need to have someone you trust that is helping maintain your health,” Dr. Brown said. “If you’re reluctant or unsure about proceeding with a screening, already having that relationship with someone means you’re more likely to ask questions.”