You’re in your 30s. Things in life have changed since your 20s. Stable career. You may have a family.
You are feeling more confident. Your career is taking off. You are considering neighborhoods you may want to settle down in, so that your children can receive a solid education.
Your life is full of responsibilities both at work and at home.
As we grow older, we become more prone to risk of disease. A stroke or heart attack is no longer an afterthought, but something we have to thoroughly avoid with changes in our lifestyle.
But with so many responsibilities, how in the world do you find time to maintain a healthy lifestyle?
All it takes to make sure you’re on track is to schedule one day from your busy schedule to see your doctor for a checkup.
But what happens in this process? What are they looking for during these visits? We reached out to one of our most trusted resources on the topic.
Keck Medicine of USC’s very own Assistant Professor of Clinical Family Medicine, Dr. Rose Taroyan, MD, MPH goes into detail of exactly what she and her staff look for when you go to visit the doctor’s office while you are in your 30s:
1. Blood Pressure Check
When you are in your 30s, the first thing your primary care physician is going to want to check is your blood pressure. If anything looks out of the ordinary, physicians like Dr. Rose Taroyan will be able to provide you with tips and instructions on how to keep it under control.
This process includes a screening for dyslipidemia. Big word, I know! It means checking for an abnormal amount of cholesterol or fat in the blood.
- Screenings, without risk factors are discussed for men who are at or above the age of 35.
- Screenings, along with risk factors are discussed for women who are at or above 35 years old.
2. BMI Evaluation
The next thing your primary care physician checks for is your BMI. Your BMI is your Body Mass Index. In other words, it is a value that you get when you combine your weight and height. This number indicates how healthy your weight is.
During this process, your primary care physician is going to do an obesity screening. If this value seems out of the ordinary, counseling will be provided.
This is a good time to talk to your primary care physician about your:
- Physical activity
- Daily habits
This discussion will determine whether there should be some counseling on:
- Exercise tips and activities
- Eating habits (consuming 5 or more servings of fruits or vegetables daily)
- Preventing heart disease
- If you are a woman and you are either planning or capable of pregnancy, folic acid supplementation will be discussed as well
3. Depression Screening
While seeing your primary care physician, they will be checking for signs of depression. If you feel down or think you may be suffering from depression, be honest with your doctor.
During this screening, they will go through a quick and simple test that consists of 10 questions:
- Little interest or pleasure in doing things?
- Feeling down, depressed, or hopeless?
- Trouble falling or staying asleep, or sleeping too much?
- Feeling tired or having little energy?
- Poor appetite or overeating?
- Feeling bad about yourself, or that you are a failure, or have let yourself or your family down?
- Trouble concentrating on things, such as reading the newspaper or watching television?
- Moving or speaking so slowly that other people have noticed. Or the opposite – being so fidgety or restless that you have been moving around a lot more than usual?
- Thoughts that you would be better off dead, or of hurting yourself in some way?
- If you checked off any problems, how difficult have these problems made it for you to do your work, take care of things at home, or get along with other people?
Your answers are recorded in between 0 to 3, depending on whether you have these feelings:
Not at all = 0 points
Several days = 1 point
More than half the days = 2 points
Nearly every day = 3 points
Based off these scores, your doctor will be able to tell you if you suffer from no depression, minimal depression or major depression. This will help your physician be able to identify whether or not you may or may not need an antidepressant or even psychotherapy.
4. Anxiety Screening
In your 30s, you have responsibilities, both financially and to your family. That could make anxiety a factor in your life. After the depression screening is complete, another quick screening is done to identify your level of anxiety.
The quiz looks like this:
Over the last 2 weeks, how often have you been bothered by the following problems?
These answers will be measured on a four-point scale which includes not at all, several days, over half the days and nearly everyday.
Your score will be able to determine whether or not you have little or no anxiety, severe anxiety and everything in between. This will allow your doctor to determine exactly how they can best serve your needs.
5. Alcohol Misuse (CAGE) – screening and behavioral counseling interventions
Your primary care physician is going to want to check for is alcohol misuse. This is done through a screening and behavioral counseling interventions.
This starts off by identifying your CAGE score. To figure this out, your primary care physician will ask you 4 simple questions:
- Have you ever felt you should Cut down on your drinking?
- Have people Annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
- Have you ever felt bad or Guilty about your drinking?
- Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or to get rid of a hangover (Eye-opener)?
A total score of two or greater is considered significant.
6. Tobacco Use
During the checkup, your doctor will be asking about your use of tobacco, providing counseling (if necessary) and discussing pharmacotherapy intervention (if needed). Pharmacotherapy invention is basically medication to help end tobacco use: for instance, nicotine gum, the patch or prescription pills.
7. Cervical Cancer Screening
The next step your primary care physician goes through is a process called cytology. What cytology means is the study of cells. So in this process, your physician is checking your cells to see if there are any abnormalities that may potentially be causing cervical cancer.
But how often are these done?
A cytology and HPV screening is done every 5 years.
8. Domestic Violence Screening
Some people end up in homes with domestic violence and they don’t know where to turn. If something is happening in your life and you have been looking for someone to share it with, discussions with your primary care physician are safe.
9. STI Screening
What follows shortly afterwards is a screening for any sexually transmitted infections. These can range from chlamydia to HIV and includes gonorrhea and syphilis. Some counseling is done to educate patients on what can be done to protect you from any possible infections.
10. Hepatitis Screening
Hepatitis is something that is easily contractable. Did you know that some people live with it and never even know?
Your doctor will provide a screening knowing that being in your 30s, you can potentially be at high risk for Hepatitis B.
Understanding what your primary care physician is looking for will help you be prepared for your visit. Remember, both you and your physician have the same goal – to keep you healthy. If your current doctor is missing out on some of these crucial screenings, maybe it is time to consider a new primary care doctor.
If you are in the Los Angeles area and are looking for exceptional care from some of the top physicians in the world, be sure to schedule an appointment by calling (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or by visiting Keck Medicine of USC
By Leonard Kim