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From pap smears to pregnancy: what you shouldn’t be forgetting to check in 2020

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Just because 2020 has been a challenge on many fronts, it doesn’t change the important health checks you need to keep front of mind.

This Women’s Health Week (7-11 September), it’s important to review what health checks you may be late with, or just need an update on.

Cardiovascular health checks

Regular blood pressure and cholesterol checks provide information on the health of your blood vessels and heart. Blood pressure should be checked at least every two years after the age of 18.

If you’re over 45 or have high blood pressure you should get a regular blood test every five years to check cholesterol. A test every year or two is best if you have high risk of heart disease.

A simple ‘finger-prick’ blood test at your local pharmacy will test total cholesterol and be able to identify if further tests are required—and the test only takes about three minutes.

Immunisations

A yearly flu vaccination is recommended, especially if you are over 65 years of age, if you are pregnant (especially in the last trimester), have a chronic condition such as severe asthma or diabetes and are concerned about getting the flu.

Other immunisations such as tetanus should also be kept up to-date.

Blood glucose screening

Depending on your risk, you should test your blood glucose levels every one to three years. A simple finger prick test available at your chemist will indicate if you have high blood glucose, which would then require further investigation with your GP.

Pre-pregnancy check-up

A check up before planning to become pregnant is a good idea for both you and your partner to help set you up for a healthy pregnancy.

Once you are pregnant, regular checks with your pharmacist, GP and Obstetrician will monitor your baby’s development as well as your health.

Pap smears

The cervical screening test now replaces the Pap smear and is necessary if you have ever been sexually active or are over the age of 25. Have your first Cervical Screening Test two years after your last Pap test, and then every five years until you are 74.

Remember to also keep up annual dental checks, skin cancer checks, breast cancer screening and see your GP for any chronic conditions.

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