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Top 10 Medical Tests you Need

Most people visit the doctor when they fall ill, but it can also be an excellent idea to use him as an insurance policy – get a check up before you get sick in case you can head off any future problems. With that in mind, Forbes came up with a list of ten medical tests that you should definitely ask for when you next visit the doctor. You don’t have to have them all done at the same time, but they are all well worth considering.

Medical Checkup3

10. Blood pressure screening

Though not a fancy diagnostic test, monitoring blood pressure is crucial for vascular health, as elevated blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. At the doctor’s office, many patients get nervous, which typically causes blood pressure to rise. That’s why relying on your physician’s reading alone may not be ideal. At-home blood pressure machines are widely available and are especially helpful for those trying to monitor the effects of a blood pressure medication like a beta-blocker. Reducing the amount of salt in your diet can help lower blood pressure.

9. C-reactive protein test

This test, for a blood marker called C-reactive protein, measures the amount of inflammation in the body. Though not specific to the heart, it has been considered helpful in diagnosing and monitoring cardiovascular problems, since arterial inflammation is believed to be involved in heart attacks and strokes. The simple blood test is used as an adjunct to more traditional measures of risk, such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

8. Colonoscopy

Screening, even for individuals without risk factors, for colorectal cancer should be begin at age 50. According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 104,950 colon and 40,340 rectal cancer cases are expected to occur in 2005, making colorectal cancer the third most common cancer in both men and women. During the test, a long, thin, flexible tube with a scope attached to it is guided through the colon. For obvious reasons, virtual colonoscopies–a less invasive technique that uses computed tomography scans to create computer-generated images of the colon–are widely considered much more comfortable from the patient’s perspective; but some studies have shown that virtual colonoscopies miss more polyps than the traditional variety.


7. CYP450 test

Enzymes that encode CYP450 genes–or genes found primarily in the liver, where we metabolize drugs and other foreign substances that enter the body–impact the ability of prescription drugs to penetrate the bloodstream properly. That means that the efficacy of a drug depends upon the availability of these enzymes. The CYP450 test, developed by Indianapolis, Ind.-based Roche Diagnostics, measures the enzyme levels so that doctors can find the right dosage for your body and see if you have immunity to a particular drug. Recently cleared by the Food and Drug Administration, this test is somewhat pricey, ringing in at about $500 US.

6. Diabetes risk tests

Routine screening of all people starting at the age of 45 is highly recommended, using one of two simple, inexpensive tests that can detect early stages of type II diabetes: the fasting plasma glucose test or the oral glucose tolerance test. The blood glucose levels measured after these tests indicate whether you have a normal metabolism, prediabetes or diabetes. If you are more than 20% above healthy body weight, you have even more of a reason to get this test, since obesity is a risk factor for diabetes.

5. Lipid profile

Knowing your cholesterol level is crucial for both detecting and managing problems with your overall vascular health, but there’s more to cholesterol than just the “bad” low-density lipoprotein and the “good” high-density lipoprotein. There are less-traditional blood markers such as lipoprotein particle size and apolipoprotein that also have been shown to detect risk. The VAP cholesterol test, a 19-metric cholesterol scan developed by the Birmingham, Alabama-based lab Atherotech, is covered by most insurance companies as a routine cholesterol screening, which makes it an affordable choice.

4. Pap smear

Changes in the cell of the cervix can show cervical cancer or possibly conditions that might develop into cancer. Experts recommend that all women who have been sexually active or who are over age 21 get an annual Pap smear–a simple test used to detect precancerous conditions that could lead to cervical cancer.


3. Prostate-specific antigen screening

Prostate-specific antigen is a substance released into a man’s blood by his prostate gland. The amount of antigen in the blood typically increases with age–but it also can be increased sharply by prostate cancer. The test is done by a simple blood sample drawn from a vein, most typically from the arm. Given the high rate of false-negative and false-positive results–and the costs and risks of further testing–there is a lot of disagreement among experts about this test. Still, an annual PSA test for men over age 50 is recommended.

2. Skin cancer exam

The best way to detect the early warning signs of basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma (the three main types of skin cancer) is to get a yearly skin exam by a dermatologist. Often, the first sign of melanoma is a change in the shape, color or size of an existing mole. Asymmetry of a mole is also something to watch out for, as it can sometimes indicate the presence of skin cancer.

1. Stress test

Designed to determine if there is adequate blood flow to your heart during increased levels of activity, this test is ideal for people who might be at risk for heart disease, especially those over 50. It typically involves walking or jogging on a treadmill or pedaling a stationary bike, while your electrocardiogram, heart rate and blood pressure are all monitored. Physicians use this test to help determine the likelihood of coronary artery disease.

Source: Forbes

Listverse Staff

Listverse is a place for explorers. Together we seek out the most fascinating and rare gems of human knowledge. Three or more fact-packed lists daily.

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  • Carrie

    And don’t forget those mammograms, ladies!

  • Wow…I haven’t had any of these. I have no idea whether or not I’m dying. o.o Scary.

  • Carrie: too right – very very important. Thanks for mentioning it.

    Kelsi: don’t worry too much! We still have to enjoy life :)

  • kunleski

    Also for the players “know ur hiv status

  • mishele

    I agree with most of the tests on the list, especially for those over 50, but there are a couple I have questions about. The C-reactive protein seems much less specific than a simple EKG. The last patient I knew of that had the C test had Methercillen-resistant staph aureus and the test was to see how much inflammation was in her body and if it was affecting her heart. For a simple screening, the EKG seems more specific and detailed.

    Also #7, the CYP450 doesn’t seem necessary unless it’s indicated by liver damage. Just doing liver enzymes is a better screening test, I would think.

  • I agree entirely, Mammograms are very important… wait for the punch line… Not only are they neccisary to the health and well being of women, but the fact that later on the said “Mams”, will keep the man happy and in check. Boobs rule the world and in order to keep control they must see a Doc. Speaking of, I should go get Poked at and make sure all my bits are working. Just to make sure I can still talk my &^!!$#!*. Horray Dingbats!!!

    And for god sakes people donate something! Keep it healthy.

  • Well, considering I have only recently become responsible for my own health, I guess I’m not that bad off. I’m only 18 after all, how many cancer cells could I possibly have? (That was rhetorical.)

  • evan

    ugh! Asymmetric moles suck, ive had to have several large ones removed. with all the scars on my back it looks like i got shanked in prison.

    Stress test are stressful :) here, we’re going to inject you with some dye, now get on that treadmill. ok RUN!. run run run run run. ok STOP quick jump on this table while we shove a cold plastic object all over your left side of your chest. oh and dont worry about the defibulator over there, thats just in case you have a heart attack while taking this stress test.

  • rebelaessedai

    You don’t have to have the dye! Ick. And they let you stop if it’s too much. The hardest part for me was making it to the table in time for them to get accurate pictures of my heart, but it was neat to watch.

  • copperdragon

    As the baby boomers hit retirement age, I would suggest a memory/intelligence test to help detect the start of dementia, alzheimers, and those too damn old to drive.

  • copperdragon

    i would also recommend an eye exam every year, for everyone. (if you lost your sight tomorrow, how much would that affect your lifestyle?)

  • Joss

    Paps SUCK

  • Mark

    I don’t think I’ll need a pap smear, because I’m male, and believe it or not, males don’t get cervix cancer. There is no recorded case of it ever happening! (Hermaphrodites don’t count)

  • rushfan

    Where I come from they make all the kids in elementary school divide into boys and girls, take off your shirts and get checked for scoliosis. It’s actually traumatizing because you’re nine and you don’t know what’s going on. And even more traumatizing, I had it. So they pulled me in the office and called my mom and I had to go to a chiropracter and get a back brace. fun for all. :)

  • rushfan

    Also mammograms should probably be on there. Did you know men can get breast cancer? Well, they can.

  • Mark: Ew, squishy!

  • MPW

    rushfan they gave scoliosis exams when i was in middle school

    we had to strip down to our undies

  • frenhmom

    Research is showing mammograms have more radiation than having a lot of chest x-rays..and therefore is causing breast cancer… might want to look it up.

  • blackcowlneck

    Screw that doctors are idiots!

  • Rasha

    fren[c]hmom – “The effective radiation dose from a mammogram is about 0.7 mSv, which is about the same as the average person receives from background radiation in three months. Federal mammography guidelines require that each unit be checked by a medical physicist every year to ensure that the unit operates correctly.” Yes, x-rays are radiation and radiation can be dangerous. But a mammogram is not especially harmful; once every year is not going to cause lumps to grow like mad in your body. Do not buy into these rumors and paranoia and certainly don’t spread it to other people. I’d love to know on what site you found this nonsense.

  • Rasha

    Also, this is an error in the list, probably a typo. The terms are backwards:

    “Enzymes that encode CYP450 genes–or genes found primarily in the liver…”

    Genes code for enzymes, not the other way around, and there’s a copy of your DNA in every cell in your body. Genes aren’t limited to one part–it’s just that certain genes are only active in one area, so the enzymes they make are only found there. :)

  • oouchan

    Ok. Got to share this:

    Colonoscopies are no joke , but these comments during the exam were quite humorous….. A physician claimed that the following are actual comments made by his patients (predominately male) while he was performing their colonoscopies:
    1. “Take it easy, Doc. You’re boldly going where no man has gone before!
    2. “Find Amelia Earhart yet?”
    3. “Can you hear me NOW?”
    4. “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”
    5. “You know, in Arkansas, we’re now legally married.”
    6. “Any sign of the trapped miners, Chief?”
    7. “You put your left hand in, you take your left hand out…”
    8. “Hey! Now I know how a Muppet feels!”
    9. “If your hand doesn’t fit, you must quit!
    10. “Hey Doc, let me know if you find my dignity.”
    11. “You used to be an executive at Enron, didn’t you?”
    12. “God, now I know why I am not gay.”
    And the best one of all…
    13. “Could you write a note for my wife saying that my head is not up here?”

  • Someonelse

    I’m from Canada with all the cut backs in health care it is nearly impossible to get diagnostic procedure done, even then you have to wait for months to get appointments.

  • Mom424

    Someonelse: Where do you live? I live near Barrie, Ontario and I have never had to wait unnecessarily for any test. When I had a lump in my breast it was less than two weeks and I was in the hospital having it removed. My last could be life threatening thing – less than 5 weeks between noticing it and having it removed in hospital. I’m curious.

  • Someonelse

    Mom424: I Live in Saint John, N.B. I had/have recurrent small intestinal bleeds for which the cause of which has never been found. My doctor wanted to book a Wireless capsule Endoscopy, which can only be done in Moncton. About 2 weeks later I got a call from the hospital they gave me an appoint which was about 10 months time. I told them to forget it. I still get the G.I. bleeds.

  • bookworm

    A PSA test saved my grandpa’s life. They caught his prostate cancer early from a slightly elevated PSA level and he is cancer free. Skin cancer screen caught my squamous cell cancer early and they removed it with no problems. These tests are very important for people to have to keep health.

  • theDoc

    December 8th, 2008 at 3:02 pm

    “Screw that doctors are idiots!”

    Ok. In case of Emergencies, don’t call 911.
    call a Hearse.

  • Someonelse

    Update: Now my Doctor retired now I don’t even have an Family Doctor.

  • zoethaeque

    A lot of this thing are very expensive, not for a developing country like mine.

    10. Yep, that’s why this is one of the routine test in every check-up.
    9. Uh, I think that for heart screening, EKG is the best. It’s non-invasive test, cheap, and easy to do.
    8. Yauw! I prefer to passing blood first for the first sign before doing that as a routine test.
    7. Uh, nope. I’ll check some jaundice first on my eyes.
    6-5. These ones I agree. There’s many for-home-using machine for blood glucose and lipid test now.
    4. There’s a quick procedure for this you know, called VIA (Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid) that can be done together with pap smear. It’s quite sensitive, but not specific, so it’s cool for cervical cancer screening.
    3. I don’t know about this thing. Usually they do that rectal exams thingy first. Yeah, it’s a cool name for HJ to A.
    2. Not for a my country, I think. White people have a factor risk for this, that’s why it’s on No. 2.
    1. Well, that’s very tiring. I still prefer EKG only for screening.

    I agree with mammogram, but it’s only for over 50. Under 50, the photo can’t be read. So for young ladies, there’s breast self-exams, although you can ask your partner to do it :p

    Thanks for the good list. I am new here. Hopefully I am not looked like some show-off guy with this first comment. Just wanna share.

    @Someonelse: I don’t know what to say. I am sorry to hear that, but I can’t help anything. Is there any complaint service on your country?

  • Anon

    Yeah, hello? mammogram?!

  • Triploblast

    I would rather get cervical cancer than have a pap smear. This is not an exaggeration.

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