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Infographic: What is preventive care? The tests you need at every age

"A" icon to represent Aetna By Aetna

How do some people stay so healthy? In part, by not waiting until they’re sick to see the doctor. Regular checkups can help prevent you from getting sick in the first place — that’s why they call it “preventive care.” This includes appointments and tests that catch early signs of illness, when treatment is more effective.

“The regular appointments and screenings that make up preventive care help your physician pick up on serious problems, but also subtle changes in your health,” says John Moore, DO, a medical director with Aetna. “If you don’t visit your doctor when you’re healthy, there’s no way to know what your ‘normal’ is.”

Your doctor can also provide personalized recommendations based on your family’s and your medical history. (Something you can’t get from online research.) For example, guidelines about mammograms for women over 40 vary among health organizations. The American Cancer Society believes it’s important to get annual screenings, while the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force suggests screenings every two years. You and your doctor can decide the frequency that’s right for you.

And don’t forget about your eye doctor and dentist. In addition to caring for your vision and oral health, these pros can alert you to signs of serious health conditions. Read more about how your eyes are windows into your wellbeing.

Check with your doctor and insurance provider to find out which preventive care screenings are covered by your medical plan. Being proactive is your best chance of staying healthy.