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Women's Health

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5 Lifesaving Health Care Screening Tests for Women

WebMD ranks the top five lifesaving health care screening tests every woman needs.
WebMD Feature

From Rosie the Riveter to celebrated TV moms like Carol Brady and June Cleaver to CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, women certainly have a lot on their plates - and unfortunately their health often takes a back seat to their families and careers.

"The irony is that most women take better care of their cars than their body, and that is in large part because an annual inspection is required to continue driving your car," says Donnica Moore, MD, a women's health expert based in Far Hills, N.J.

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By Jessie Knadler You didn't see it coming. You didn't even feel it land — until a split second later when you suddenly realize you've had the wind knocked out of you. What just hit you? Someone's nasty comment, and it's cut you to the core. Sometimes a faultfinder disguises her disapproval as a quasi-compliment: "I would have never had the courage to talk to my boss the way you did." Other times, a jab takes the form of a cautionary tale: "You're going on a cruise? I still get nightmares...

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"Just like we have stickers on our cars to get your inspection renewed, use this week or your birthday (as I do), to get your checkups," Moore says. There is no reason not to take advantage of health care screening tests. "We know that the earlier we identify any potential health problems, the better our outcome will be," she says. And "if you are totally well, it gives you great reassurance about a whole list of things don't need to worry about."

To make the task even easier, WebMD compiled a list of the top five lifesaving health care screening tests every woman needs and why.

No. 1 Heart Smarts

Heart disease claims about 500,000 women's lives a year. That's more than the next five causes of death combined, according to the American Heart Association. But it doesn't have to be this way, says Marianne J. Legato, MD, a professor of clinical medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City and the founder of the Foundation for Gender Specific Medicine. "Without a doubt, 80% of coronary disease can be prevented with proper lifestyle modifications including healthy diet and increased physical activity," says Legato, author of several books including Why Men Never Remember and Women Never Forget.

One way to assess your risk is to get health care screening tests for total cholesterol levels, high density lipoprotein (HDL) or "good" cholesterol, low density lipoprotein (LDL) or "bad" cholesterol, and blood fats known as triglyceridest. "If you are older than 50, I also recommend getting your C-reactive protein (CRP), homocysteine, and lipoprotein (a) (LP(a)) checked," she says.

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