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Health Tip: When to get a Physical Exam

You'll need them more often as you age

(HealthDay News) -- Regular checkups and physical exams are an important way to maintain good health, and keep any diseases or conditions you have in check.

Even if you're young and healthy, regular physicals are a good idea. Here are a few tips from the University of Maryland Medical Center on how often to be checked, and what you should be screened for at each visit:

  • You should have two physicals during your 20s. Your height and weight should be checked at both visits, and cholesterol should be checked at one of them. Blood pressure should be checked every year, and diphtheria and tetanus boosters are needed every 10 years.
  • Women need an annual pelvic exam and Pap smear, starting in their 20s -- but the frequency may decrease over time if you have consistently normal test results.
  • Between ages 40 and 65, a physical every one to five years is recommended, with height and weight being monitored at each visit.
  • At this age, cholesterol needs to be checked every five years as long as it is within the normal range.
  • Beginning at age 50, men need annual colorectal and prostate cancer screenings.
  • Beginning at age 40, women need an annual mammogram to check for breast cancer.
  • People ages 65 and older need yearly physical exams -- your blood pressure should be monitored at each visit. If your cholesterol is within the normal range, it may only need to be checked every three-to-five years.
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