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Enjoy the Great 40s by Staying Healthy with the Right Tests and Screenings

couple in their 40s sitting on a park bench

What Screenings Should I Get in my 40s?

By Amanda Springstroh, quality care coordinator

Like other decade markers, turning 40 is opening a new chapter in life. While plenty of exciting new life experiences come along with this milestone, you’ll also find a need for screenings and tests that work to assure you’re getting the most out of these years. These tests go above and beyond the standard annual wellness exam that experts recommend for general health and wellness.

Here are the screenings about which you should ask your personal doctor once you turn 40.

Blood pressure

It is crucial to get your blood pressure checked regularly and it’s equally important to know your numbers.  High blood pressure, also known as hypertension often has no warning signs and is referred to as the silent killer. Hypertension is a major risk factor for heart disease, one of the leading causes of death among men and women in the United States.

Body mass index

Also known as BMI, body mass index is a calculation of your height and weight. Though it doesn’t tell the entire story of your health or wellness, BMI screening is considered part of your preventive checkup. Ask your personal doctor for more information on healthy weight guidelines. Diet and physical activity are key factors in weight-management strategies and preventing heart disease.


Your blood cholesterol level is another risk factor for heart disease, making it important to have these numbers tested even in your 40s. Although genetic factors are thought to be a leading cause for cholesterol problems, dietary factors and being excess body weight can contribute.

Immunization review

It is important to get a flu shot every year. Now, more than ever. When getting the flu shot, you should also ask about upcoming immunizations to prevent illnesses such as pneumonia and shingles. This is also a great opportunity to review your tetanus-diphtheria vaccine. Tetanus-diphtheria boosters are recommended every 10 years, which means you might be due. Your personal doctor may also recommend other immunizations if you are at high risk for illnesses or conditions and he or she discuss the timing of these immunizations during your exam. 

Emotional health screening

Although many people see 40 as the beginning of a prime decade where self-awareness and energy levels are both in high supply, depression and mental health issues can affect people of any age. Your health care professional may provide screening for depression which includes questions about factors like alcohol and tobacco use.  Safety issues such as using seat belts, smoke and carbon dioxide detectors and gun safety may also be discussed in relation to how they can affect or reflect your mental health.


Diabetes is a health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy. A simple blood sugar test should begin around 45 but often is done earlier if you're overweight or have other risk factors for diabetes. By addressing diabetes at this age, many other related health problems can be prevented or delayed.


Beginning at age 40, your personal doctor may recommend screening for breast cancer. Mammograms and breast cancer screenings are the most effective treatment for saving lives as often abnormalities are detected before any symptoms develop. Guidelines on screenings vary, so talk to your healthcare professional. 

>>> READ MORE: The Importance of Mammograms <<<

Cervical cancer screening and pelvic exam

Screening and lifestyle recommendations for cervical cancer begin at age 21, but the frequency of recommended checkups changes as you age. Pap test and an HPV test should be performed every five years after age 40 unless your personal doctor advises otherwise or if you are at an increased risk. This is in addition to a gynecological or pelvic exam, which you should have done annually. 

Prostate screening

Prostate cancer is a huge medical concern for men that is often less talked about. Men should have a discussion with their personal doctors about how early to screen for prostate cancer. Risk factors for this cancer, which may cause doctors to recommend earlier screenings, include a family history of prostate cancer and being a Black American.

Colorectal cancer screening

Starting at age 40, you should discuss having a colorectal screening with your personal doctor. Many people are at risk for colon cancer and early detection is crucial to slowing or stopping the spread of cancer. There are several different types of tests to screen for this, so decide with your healthcare professional which one will fit your needs.

Learn more about colorectal cancer and screenings.

Skin cancer screening

Did you know that skin cancer is the most common type of cancer? It’s also a type that may go undiagnosed long past the stage where early detection and treatment are effective. Guidelines for skin cancer screenings vary, but if you’ve reached age 40 and have never visited a dermatologist, consider this quick screening to monitor moles, sunspots and other discolorations.  

Bone mineral density exam/bone mass measurement

Get screened at age 40 if you are at increased risk for osteoporosis or low bone density. Increased risk factors include having a disease or condition known to be associated with bone loss, using certain medications or having recently experienced a broken bone.

Dental exam

Professional teeth cleaning is important in preventing oral problems. If untreated, oral problems can lead to further health complications and even fatal illnesses. Cleanings should be routinely scheduled every 6 to 12 months. These checkups are of even greater importance in your 40s as this is the age where issues like bone loss can begin to manifest in the mouth.

Eye exam

You’re probably used to seeing your eye doctor annually, but eye exams just aren’t about correcting vision. Once you reach age 40, eye exams become even more crucial to your overall health. Risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure or a family history of eye problems may need additional screenings and testing for eye diseases that can often be treated if caught early.

Enjoy the Exciting 40s by Staying Healthy with Recommended Tests and Screenings

Most people find their 40s to be a transformative decade that sees them hit their stride with the perfect balance of physical energy, emotional intelligence and a lifestyle they have worked hard to craft according to their goals. You are more self-confident, have more life experiences and are typically spending valuable time with friends and family. All the benefits of the 40s, however, should never undermine awareness about the health issues which begin to rear their head as you enter this mid-life stage.

Regularly visiting your personal doctor for early detection and treatment/interventions of these health issues is key. Remember that, whatever your age, no health questions are insignificant. You should feel comfortable discussing your concerns with your health care professional, with the two of you working to determine which preventative health screenings are right for you.

If you have any questions about how your Network Health plan can help you get the most out of your 40s and beyond, we’d love to help. Reach out to us today by clicking the link below.


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