ORLANDO, Fla. – Advances in medicine and technology today can help diagnose and treat problems that used to sneak up on us as we got older.
So where does someone approaching middle age start when it comes to the changing needs of his or her health?
If you’ve hit the half-century mark and you haven't been to the doctor lately, now would be a good time for an annual check-up or wellness exam.
News 6 spoke with Dr. Benjamin Kaplan, lead physician of the Orlando Health Internal Medicine facility practice, about what tests you need to take at age 50.
“The first thing the doctor will talk to you about during that wellness exam is cardiovascular risk,” Kaplan said.
Kaplan said screening some very basic areas will give your doctor an idea of how healthy you are.
That screening includes blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar levels, vitamin levels and making sure your BMI is where it should be.
“The second thing the doctor will talk to you about is cancer risk. So for cancer, men and women differ,” Kaplan said.
At 50, your risk for breast and prostate cancers goes up, and if you haven’t already, you should start scheduling regular mammograms and prostate exams.
Kaplan said a colonoscopy is one test that shouldn't be avoided.
“The first thing everybody should get checked is colon cancer. Colonoscopy is the one we all care about that should be done every 10 years, and we're talking about normal risk patients,” Kaplan said.
It is also important to get a vaccine update.
If you get an annual flu shot, your physician may also recommend a pneumonia shot, a tetanus booster or even a shingles vaccine.
Staying on top of your tests now may help you live longer.
“We can detect things a lot earlier, preventing long-term, debilitating issues involved in the disease process to help you live longer,” Kaplan said.
He also said it’s important to stay active and getting on a healthy diet with grains, fruit and vegetables.
“There are some studies, you know, just showing that what you do at age 50 will determine how you are at age 80," Kaplan said. “So if you're active and healthy and eating healthy and exercising and not drinking, not smoking that’s technically going to be how you are at age 80, considering nothing changes.”
One of Dr. Kaplan’s main concerns as people turn 50 is the patient-doctor relationship. He said if you don't have a good rapport with your doctor, you can't have an honest conversation about the risks and benefits of doing these tests.
If you fall in this age group, make an appointment with your doctor to talk about your options and what tests are the best fit for you.