Practice preventive medicine
A good way to stay healthy is to detect and treat medical problems early — or, better yet, to prevent them altogether. Preventive measures you can take include getting screened for diabetes complications, cancer, and other conditions; getting immunizations; and taking precautions to prevent falls and injuries.
An important concern for women with diabetes is screening for and preventing cardiovascular disease. Having high blood cholesterol and/or high blood pressure raises your risk of heart disease, so you should have your cholesterol checked once a year (or as recommended by your doctor) and your blood pressure checked every time you visit your doctor. You should also get tested once a year for microalbuminuria, or protein in the urine, an early sign of nephropathy and a risk factor for heart attack and stroke. In addition, you should have your HbA1c level checked two to four times each year to get an idea of how well you’re controlling your blood glucose level. Keeping your blood glucose as close to normal as possible helps you reduce your risk for diabetes complications.
According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer at some point in her life, and 1 in 17 will develop colorectal cancer. Detecting these types of cancers early makes treating them more likely to be successful. The NCI recommends that women over 40 get a mammogram (a screening test for breast cancer) every one to two years. Several tests can detect cancer of the colon or rectum, and the American Cancer Society recommends that all people over 50 have either a fecal occult blood test once a year and flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years, a colonoscopy once every 10 years, or a barium enema every 5–10 years. In addition, getting regular pelvic exams and Pap smears can help detect cervical, vaginal, and other gynecological cancers.