When we’re feeling healthy, it’s easy to put off or avoid medical tests that screen for disease. But postponing or skipping routine screenings and medical exams can have serious consequences for our health. On a recent visit to The Rachael Ray Show, we had three viewers take three common screening medical tests: A cholesterol blood test to look for a treatable cause of heart disease; a mammogram exam to screen for signs of breast cancer; and a treadmill stress test to detect heart disease.
Why did we pick these three tests? They work well because they nicely illustrate the three types of medical tests you may receive:
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- A routine test you get at every checkup (cholesterol)
- A regularly scheduled screening/preventive test you get less frequently, but need to keep on top of if you’re in the population that it’s recommended for (mammogram)
- A secondary test that you probably won’t receive unless you’ve already had another test that indicates you should get it (treadmill stress test)
If you’re spending the time and effort to visit the doctor and have tests such as these done, you want to get a return on that investment in your health. That’s why getting medical screenings and exams is just a first step, not the last. You also need to:
1. Take action based on the test results. If your results suggest a health problem or are inconclusive, you need to discuss them with your doctor. You should find out what they might mean to you and the actions you should take. If the results are normal, that may be good news. However, you’ll still need to talk with your doctors to make sure you have a health plan in place that will keep your test results – and your health – in good shape.