Ever wonder about the tests and screenings your primary care provider orders during your annual visit? What are they looking for? Why are they screening you? Our Primary Care staff is happy to explain them to you—just click on the name of the screening or the test for the description.
While these explanations are helpful, you are encouraged to discuss any tests or screenings ordered—and the results—with your healthcare provider. If you need one, you can make an appointment with any Augusta Medical Group provider by calling (833) AHC-HLTH.
Blood pressure is the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. It's usually measured with a stethoscope and blood pressure cuff. Your blood pressure is highest when your heart beats and pumps the blood. This is your systolic pressure. Between beats, your heart rests and the blood pressure lowers. This is your diastolic pressure. Your blood pressure is given as two numbers, first systolic, then diastolic. A blood pressure of 120/80 is a systolic of 120 and a diastolic of 80.
If your blood pressure is high for a long period of time, your heart has to pump harder and work overtime. This can lead to serious problems such as a heart attack, stroke, heart failure or kidney failure. Your blood pressure is generally called "high" if your systolic number is 140 or higher OR your diastolic number is 90 or higher. Additional risk factors may lead to a diagnosis of high blood pressure at slightly lower numbers.
Cholesterol Blood Test
A cholesterol blood test measures the level of cholesterol in your blood. The blood test is important because you usually will not experience any signs or symptoms of high cholesterol. How often you have the test depends on your age, family history and other risk factors. Generally, younger adults over the age of 20 are tested at least every five years. For men, the frequency increases to every one or two years at about age 45. For women, the frequency increases at about age 55.
It's important to learn if your cholesterol level is high because it can form large deposits of plaque in your arteries. If arteries become blocked, or if a bit of plaque breaks off and forms a traveling clot, the blood flow in your arteries can become partially or fully blocked. This can lead to problems such as heart attack, stroke or other medical conditions.
A1c Diabetes Screening
An A1c is a blood test for Type 2 Diabetes. It measures your average blood glucose (blood sugar) level over the past three months. It might be done to help diagnose diabetes or pre-diabetes, or it might be done after a diabetes diagnosis to see how well diabetes is being managed. Those already diagnosed with diabetes should have an A1c test twice a year, or at the frequency preferred by your provider.
The result of the A1c test is given in percentages. The higher the percentage, the higher your blood sugar levels have been over the previous three months.
- A normal A1c is below 5.7 percent.
- An A1c between 5.7 percent and 6.4 percent is called pre-diabetes, which is a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes. If you are pre-diabetic, your provider will probably want to retest you every year.
- Those with an A1c above 6.5 have Type 2 diabetes. The A1c goal for many people with diabetes is below 7. You'll want to discuss your diabetes care plan with your provider to keep your A1c at a managed level.
An EKG, or Electrocardiogram, is a test to measure your heart's activity. It's a non-invasive test, which means everything is done external to your body. It can be done in your provider's office. Sensors are attached to your chest (and sometimes other parts of our body) that can quickly detect the electrical activity of your heart.
Generally, an EKG is done if you have symptoms of heart disease, such as chest pains or shortness of breath, or if you already have a diagnosis of heart disease. An EKG is used to help detect irregularities in the heart rhythms, blocked or narrowed arteries, a previous heart attack, structural problems in your heart, or to see how well a treatment (such as a pacemaker) is working.
CBC (Complete Blood Count) Lab Draw
A CBC, or Complete Blood Count, is a commonly performed blood test that is often included in a routine check-up. It measures many different parts and features of your blood such as your red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, hemoglobin and hematocrit.
A CBC can be used to help detect a variety of disorders including infections, anemia, diseases of the immune system or blood disorders. It measures the 'level' of different substances in your blood. If any of the levels fall outside the normal range, it tells us to take a closer look at what's causing the abnormal level. Other factors—such as your medical history, symptoms and medications—are taken into consideration before a diagnosis.
A mammogram is an x-ray picture of the breast. Screening mammography is a mammogram that checks you when you have no symptoms. The mammogram can possibly detect breast cancer before you can feel a lump.
Mammograms can be used to check for breast cancer before you have any signs or symptoms of the disease. It can help reduce deaths from breast cancer among women between the ages of 40 and 70. Mammograms are also recommended for younger women who have symptoms of breast cancer or who have a high risk of the disease.
Colonoscopy is a procedure that allows your doctor to look inside your large intestine. A colonoscopy looks at your entire colon and rectum. A similar procedure called sigmoidscopy looks at the rectum and lower colon only. The procedure is done with an instrument called a scope that is a tiny camera attached to a long, thin tube. Colonoscopy involves a bowel prep to clean out your intestine so everything can be seen clearly. You will receive medications to keep you relaxed during the procedure.
Some things that can be seen during a colonoscopy are inflamed tissue, abnormal growths and ulcers. A doctor may order a colonoscopy, usually starting at age 50, to look for early signs of cancer in the colon or rectum. If polyps (small growths) are found, they can be removed during the procedure.
As we age, we have an increased risk of falling and being injured in the fall. More than one in four older people fall each year, although not all of them talk with their doctors about the fall. According to national statistics, each year, 3 million older people are treated in Emergency Departments for falls and more than 800,000 are hospitalized with an injury from a fall. Your doctor may start screening you for Risk of Falling about the age of 60.
Often, the screening is simply a series of questions about your health, your home and your workplace. You may also be asked to reach for something, pick up an object from the floor, or get up from a chair to walk, turn and sit down again. These actions check your balance. Blood or urine test may also be ordered to check for infections or electrolyte balance that could put you at a greater risk.