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Do-it-yourself Health Check-ups

Do-it-yourself Health Check-ups

The most important way to stay healthy? All women should check in regularly with their doctors and let them know when any suspicious symptoms arrive. But in between those doctor visits, some at-home tests and self-checks can be done in the privacy of your own bathroom. In fact, these DIY health assessments can sound the alarm for a number of women’s health conditions — from breast cancer to high blood pressure — and they could just save your life.

Self-Breast Exam

Giving yourself regular self-breast exams can help you detect changes in your breasts so you can report them to your doctor ASAP. Do you know how to perform this important women’s health check?

First, stand with your upper body unclothed and look at your breasts in a mirror. Look for changes like dimpling, redness, or scaliness of the skin or nipples, and note any differences between the two breasts.

Next, lie down (this is a change from previous recommendations to do this exam standing in the shower). Raise your right arm above your head. Use the three middle fingers of your left hand to feel all over your right breast, beginning at the armpit. Repeat with your other breast.

Heart Rate Check

Heart disease is a serious women’s health condition (it’s the No. 1 killer of women in the United States). Fortunately, checking your own heart rate (pulse) can help uncover problems with your ticker.

To find your pulse, place your index and middle fingers on the underside of your opposite wrist, just below the base of the thumb. Count your heartbeats for one minute. A resting pulse for adults should be between 60 and 100 beats per minute. If it’s consistently higher or lower, or if you detect an irregular heartbeat, call your doctor.

Monitor Blood Pressure

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is another common women’s health condition — and it’s also a major risk factor for heart disease. A home blood pressure monitor is probably a good investment, especially if you already have hypertension. Normal readings are at or below 120/80.

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Here are some things to keep in mind during your test:

Measure your upper arm circumference before you purchase a monitor. Make sure the cuff size fits your arm (these measurements are included on the box).

Make sure it’s easy to use and read.

Ask your doctor’s office to check it for accuracy at every visit.

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