Everyone needs an HIV test. So you know. And if you're positive, so you can take care of yourself.
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It's good to keep track, too, of other threats to health and wellness. As far as causes of death:
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Heart + artery disease lead the pack. No other cause of death has more than a tenth of the numbers dead from heart disease. Keep track of your heart health, nurture your circulatory system. Eat, rest, exercise.
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Cancers are close behind – lung, breast + prostate cancer in the lead. Watch for signs, minimize risks. If you find cancer early, survival chances improve.
Chronic lung problems, pneumonia + emphysema, land a distant third. Don't brush off breathing trouble; it could be the beginning of chronic pneumonia.
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Getting tests is part of the job. Reducing risk another part. Smoking supports all leading causes of death. If you smoke, stop. Helps at any age.
Art credit: Street art from Sunderland, England, abandonded psych hospital, original photo by Simon ©2006.
Version 1.0| Update 2Sep11
Written by Paul Quin
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Set a baseline

Celebrate turning 50 with a full series of blood + physiological tests, so you and your doctor catch eaerly warning signs – and also so you can tell later when something has changed for the worse. Otherwise, 'normal' becomes an abstract, statistical average – which may be, in important ways, not your normal.

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Get tested for HIV.

Had sex since 1980? Blood transfusion? You may not have been knowingly exposed, but do you know for certain that all your partners – all their partners – all blood contacts over the past 30 years or more have been uninfected?

    Everyone is at risk; seniors more vulnerable than most.
    The test is quick + simple, no needles.

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Have a complete blood test.

Take the trouble to have the blood drawn before your first meal of the day. A 'fasting' test establishes useful parameters for blood sugars and other elements. Make sure your doctor has a complete set of tests done, so later there's a benchmark.

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Assess vulnerabilities.

Some tests are for everyone – with heart disease, cancer + diabetes being unfortunately common, getting older means it's important to look for warning signs. For other conditions, you and your healthcare team may notice family patterns or personal indicators of trouble.

If there's a question, discuss your situation with your healthcare team.

Check your heart + lungs.

If you or your doctor has concerns about your overall health, energy level, shortness of breath or chest pains, you may need an ekg (electrocardiogram), a baseline cardio stress test or an x-ray to check for pneumonia. You know the risk factors: Overweight, poor eating habits, couch potato, stressed out. Discuss diet, exercise + family histories with your healthcare team and follow recommendations.

Get a breast exam, pap smear + colonoscopy.

These are for everyone after 50, on a regular basis. Get extra tests if you have signs of trouble. Keep track of changes in your skin. Any form of cancer is most treatable when caught early. You and your healthcare team are the only ones who can do the catching. Follow your doctor's recommendations.

Be aware of the signs of diabetes.

Especially if it runs in your family. Our US national diet has brought Americans more diabetes now than ever. Like other conditions, catch it early and it's not so hard to control. Learn the symptoms. Exercise. Watch your diet.

Troubles with your liver?

Your liver may be at risk from certain medicines, drug or drink habits, exotic wilderness ventures, chemical pollutants. The liver does re-grow, but needs to be protected. Blood tests for enzymes help keep watch. In certain cases, your doctor may want a biopsy to get a clearer picture of the situation.

Worried about Alzheimer's? Osteoporosis? Rheumatism?

Your healthcare team knows how to keep track of your problems and your progress in dealing with them. It doesn't help to guess what's going on – if you have an issue, get the tests. Know what's up. Find out how to respond.