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Preparing for a Healthy New Year: What to Prioritise in 2021

It’s the start of a new year and you should always prioritise your health. Don’t wait until you’re ill before visiting the doctor. A routine medical check-up or screening test is important because this helps detect serious health risks early, which means you can receive the medical treatment you will need to make a successful recovery or to manage the condition. Bloom Financial Services, along with their partner Momentum Health4Me, explain what types of check-ups you need to prioritise in 2021.

Health checks for men

1. Prostate Exam

The Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) confirms that prostate cancer is the most prevalent type of cancer amongst men both globally and locally. Men need to go for a prostate screening test in order to reduce their risk of developing this disease. There are different types of screening tests available, which are largely dependent on your age and risk factors. The most common type is the Routine Prostate Specific Antigen Test, which is a blood test that screens for the amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in your blood.

Men who have a family history of prostate cancer are advised to be screened from the age of 40 years every two years, and all men, regardless of whether or not you have a family history of the disease, are advised to have the screening from the age of 50 years every two years. A simple digital prostate-rectal exam can be conducted by a healthcare practitioner, like your local GP, to determine whether your prostate feels abnormal. If they detect any irregularities, they can refer you for more tests.

Health checks for women

1. Pap Smear

A pap smear is the procedure needed to test for cervical cancer and is carried out by a gynaecologist. Detecting cervical cancer early is very important because it allows you to receive the specialised medical treatment and support you will need to combat this disease. It is recommended that all women start having a regular pap smear every two to three years from the age of 21 and until the age of 65. Women over the age of 30 years can have the test every five years provided they combine the pap smear with an HPV screening. Women who’ve had a complete hysterectomy don’t need to be screened.

2. Mammogram

A mammogram is a screening test for breast cancer that is conducted by a radiologist using a digital x-ray machine designed to detect abnormalities in the breast tissue. A woman’s risk of developing breast cancer increases with age and this is the reason why all women should have regular mammogram screening tests every two years from the age of 45 years. Those women who have a family medical history of breast cancer should consult with their GP about when they should get tested.

3. Bone density screening

A bone density test is a procedure undertaken to check for osteoporosis, which is a disease that causes your bones to become weak and brittle making you susceptible to fractures and breaks. Historically, women are at a higher risk than men for developing this condition so all women over the age of 65 years are advised to have a bone density test. It’s recommended to have the test earlier if there is a family medical history of the disease or if you’re underweight.

7 Essential health checks for men and women

1. HIV screening test

It’s essential to know your status so it’s advisable to have an annual HIV/AIDS test. Early diagnosis will assist you in boosting your immune system and managing your treatment plan. Antiretroviral medication is provided in accordance with the Momentum CareCross Network prescribed HIV medication formulary. Pre-authorisations and waiting periods will apply to this benefit.

2. Blood pressure test

If you have high blood pressure you have an increased risk of developing a chronic disease, like atherosclerosis, which can cause a heart attack or stroke. If your blood pressure is too high, we recommend making certain lifestyle changes, like sticking to a healthy diet and an exercise plan. You can have an annual blood pressure test at any Dischem, Clicks, MediRite, or Pick n Pay Pharmacy as part of Momentum’s Health4Me annual health assessment benefit.

3. Cholesterol test

You can also have an annual cholesterol check-up as part of your health assessment. A cholesterol test is important, especially if you’re over the age of 40, in order to check if you’re at risk for cardiovascular disease. Those who are most at risk are people with a high body mass index, which usually stems from a poor diet and unhealthy lifestyle habits; and those who have a genetic family history of the condition. If your cholesterol test reveals a high LDL or “bad” cholesterol level, we recommend making lifestyle changes or consulting with your local GP who can prescribe certain medication to help manage the condition.

4. Blood sugar test

A blood sugar finger prick test also forms part of your annual Health4Me health assessment. This test will help determine if you have or are at risk for diabetes, which is a chronic condition where your blood sugar levels become elevated due to impaired utilisation of insulin. If you are diagnosed with diabetes, you will be covered for chronic medication if you’re on the Health4Me silver or gold health insurance plans.

5. Glaucoma screening

A glaucoma test is the screening procedure used to check for the onset of blindness and is carried out by an ophthalmologist. Both men and women over the age of 40 should have a glaucoma test every two to four years and earlier if you have a family history of the disease. The Gold health insurance plan members can visit an ophthalmologist twice a year at a limit of R1,000 per consultation, provided they have a referral.

6. Weight measurement

There is a direct link between obesity and chronic disease. Critical illnesses, like heart disease and diabetes, can be prevented if your BMI is at the correct weight level. You can get your annual weight, height, and waist circumference check-up during your annual health assessment to make sure you place in the correct weight measurement levels. If not, we strongly advise making dietary and lifestyle changes to ensure your wellness and longevity.

7. Dental check-up

Good dental care is an often underrated form of health care. Many people neglect their teeth until it’s too late, which can result in costly procedures. Furthermore, certain serious conditions, like gum disease, have been linked to poor dental care practice. Make sure you get the green light by having an annual dental oral exam, which forms part of your dentistry benefit on the Gold and Silver medical insurance plans.

Vaccinations and shots you need to take in 2021

Flu, or influenza, is an infectious respiratory infection caused by a virus that is particularly prevalent in winter, starting in the first weeks of June. It’s recommended that you receive a flu shot, which will help protect you from the infection. The Health4Me health insurance plans cover the cost of an annual flu vaccination at several approved partner pharmacies.

Takeaway

Nobody has time to get sick and that’s why Bloom encourages preventative screening tests that can help our members stay fit and healthy all year round. A simple check-up is all you need to find out whether you’re at risk for any serious medical conditions and these screenings will help you get the right kind of medical treatment you need.

Stay safe and healthy with Bloom by contacting our team of brokers to discuss the benefits of Health4Me for you and your family.

Medical Content Disclaimer

You understand and acknowledge that all users of the Bloom Financial Services website are responsible for their own medical care, treatment, and oversight. All content provided on the website, is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Neither is it intended to be a substitute for an independent professional medical opinion, judgement, diagnosis or treatment.