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The Health Screenings and Preventive Health Practices You Cannot Afford to Miss!

David Pryor, MD The health of African-Americans has improved over the last forty years. Many factors have helped improve our health such as regular medical care, exercise, a healthy diet, and timely screening tests. We need to be aware of these preventative health practices to make sure we are properly screened in order to ensure a healthier future for ourselves and our families. Consult with your doctor or health provider who can help you tailor these summary recommendations to your specific health situation.

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Preventive Medicine and Screenings

The health of African-Americans has improved over the last thirty years. The life expectancy of African American women has increased from 68 to 74 years. Many factors have helped improve our health such as regular medical care, exercise, a healthy diet, and timely screening tests. 


This article will focus on preventive interventions- screening tests, counseling interventions and immunizations as recommended by the United States Preventative Services Task Force. The importance of these recommendations has lead to a decline in previously common and debilitating conditions, such as polio, as well as a substantial reduction in illness/disease and death.

These summaries of recommendations are followed by your physician, and are recommended for adults (men and women). We need to be aware of these health screens to make sure we are properly screened in order to ensure a healthier future for ourselves and our families.

Disease

Screening Test

When/How Often

Comments

High Blood Pressure

Blood Pressure Check

Age> 21

Check every 1-2 years

High blood pressure contributes to increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Heart disease remains the greatest killer of African American women. The death rate for stroke is 34% higher for Black females than White females.

High Cholesterol

Cholesterol level

-HDL

-LDL

-Men 35-65 years old;

-Women 45-65 years old.

-Screening should be every 5 years.

 

Breast Cancer

-Self Breast Exam

-Physician breast exam

-Mammogram

-monthly, same time each month

-annually (age 40+)

-every 1-2 years (ages 50-69); continue every 1-3 years if appropriate

 

Cervical Cancer

Pap smear

Annually until 3 negative exams, then every 2-3 years.

May decrease frequency or discontinue after ages 65-69.

Colon Cancer

-Stool occult blood test

-Sigmoidoscopy

-Annually after age 50

-Every 3-5 years after age 50

 

Diabetes

Glucose (sugar) level in blood

Periodically in high risk.

One out of every four black women over the age of 55 suffers from diabetes. Diet, exercise, weight loss and medications can control diabetes.

Obesity

height/weight

Annually

Approximately 60% of African American women are overweight. Obesity contributes to heart disease, diabetes, stroke, arthritis, depression endometrial, breast, and prostate cancers.

Glaucoma

Eye exam by ophthalmologist

Periodically after age 65

 

Prostate Cancer screening (men)

-PSA blood test

-Rectal exam

Annually after age 50.

However, African American men have the highest risk of prostate CA, and therefore should be screened earlier.


Immunizations/Vaccinations:

Immunization/Vaccine

When/How Often

Comments

Tetanus-diphtheria vaccine

Booster every 10 years

 

Influenza vaccine (flu shot)

Annually for >65years.

Now almost universally recommended for everyone.

Pneumovax (Pneumonia shot)

Once for persons >65 years

 

 



Prophylaxis/Counseling

 


Exercise


Aerobic and resistance as tolerated. Thirty minutes or more of walking or other weight bearing exercise for most days of the week recommended. Prevents heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity and other diseases.


Diet


Limit saturated fat and cholesterol. Emphasize high fiber. Calcium supplementation for postmenopausal women.


Tobacco (avoidance/cessation)


23% of Black women smoke. Causes heart and lung disease.


Aspirin


Folic Acid


Hormone Replacement Therapy


Daily for men and women over 50.

Based on recommendation by physician.

0.4mg daily recommended for all menstruating women.

Estrogen/Progesterone

Post-menopausal women. Decreases risk of osteoporosis and heart disease. Not recommended for all women, recommendation based on discussion with your doctor.

Reference:

Guide to Clinical Preventive Services. Report of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

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