Your Basic Health Maintenance Plan

Skin and Heart Health

Skin Check

There are two types of skin cancer: melanoma and non-melanoma. Melanoma, if not found and treated early, is a killer. Non-melanoma skin cancer is not deadly but it can spread and cause a lot of skin damage if it's not caught and treated at an early stage. So clearly, the key to treating skin cancer is early detection.

Every three months, check your skin for new moles or any changes in size, shape or color of existing moles. Look for:

  • Irregular, notched or ragged looking moles.
  • Moles bigger than a pencil eraser, which is about 4 to 5 millimeters (1/2 inch).
  • Moles that have an inconsistent color or a combination of colors, including shades of tan, blue, black, brown, red or even white. Moles also may fade from their regular color.
  • Asymmetrical moles (each half of the mole looks different from the other).

If you ever notice a suspicious mole, marking, lump, sore or change in the way your skin feels, please see your healthcare professional.

It's also a good idea to have someone check your back, scalp and the tops of your ears for moles. Have a healthcare professional check your skin at least once every two to three years when you're in your 20s and 30s, and then yearly after the age of 40. More frequent checkups may be in order if you have more than 50 moles, a history of skin cancer, fair skin, if you spend a lot of time outdoors or had several bad cases of sunburn as a child.

Healthy Heart Tests

Blood-pressure check: Have your blood pressure checked every other year if it's normal and you don't take any blood-pressure medications. If you have high blood pressure, or if high blood pressure runs in your family, your blood pressure must be measured at least once per year. Also, if you're overweight, African American, have known heart disease or you smoke, you must have your blood pressure checked at least once a year. People often underestimate the dangers of uncontrolled high blood pressure because "they can't feel it or notice any problems." If left unchecked, uncontrolled high blood pressure can increase your risk for heart attack, stroke and liver and kidney damage.

Electrocardiogram: Get a baseline at age 40 or earlier if you have a family history of heart disease or you're experiencing symptoms of heart disease. Your physician will discuss any follow-up screening based upon your personal health assessment.

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