Know your screenings

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Author: The Editor

30 Nov, 2022

There are several common screenings individuals should have. It is important that you go for these screenings as early as possible (i.e. when you reach the recommended age to have these tests done) as physicians are use these screenings to look for anything abnormal and if something arises, it can be detected early and effectively managed. This guide offers information on some of the most common screenings, explaining what they are for, how they work and the recommended age to receive them.

Blood pressure screenings:

A blood pressure screening involves a cuff that is secured around your arm and then inflated either automatically through a machine or through a hand pump. Normally, if it is your first time having a blood pressure screening, it will be done on both arms and whichever produces the higher result will be used going forward.

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The unit of measurement used to measure blood pressure is millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and there are two numbers included in the reading:

Top number – systolic pressure:

  • ‘Number measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats’

Bottom number– diastolic pressure:

  • ‘Number measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats’

An individual is considered to have high blood pressure (or hypertension) if the reading equals or is more than 130/80 mm Hg. Two or more measurements which need to be done at two different points in time is the official protocol to diagnose someone as having high blood pressure. There are different stages of high blood pressure:

  • Stage 1 hypertension: between 130/80 mm Hg to 139/89 mm Hg
  • Stage 2 hypertension: between 140/90 mm Hg or more
  • Isolated systolic hypertension: This is when the bottom blood pressure reading is normal (less than 80 mm Hg) however the top number is higher. This is more common for senior 65 and older

While these are the baseline measurement, an increase of 20 mm Hg in systolic pressure or 10 mm Hg in diastolic pressure above 115/75 mm Hg doubles the risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

Given the importance of knowing your blood pressure, it makes sense to get it right. Your position, pressure cuff size and placing, quality of the equipment and more all make a difference to accuracy. Integra’s blood pressure screening checks use professional-grade equipment, and are conducted by fully trained nurses, overseen by our Family Medicine Specialist in Cayman.

Recommended age for blood pressure screening: It is recommended that you begin screening from 18 years and older. If you have a good reading and no other risk factors, you should test at least once every 2 to 5 years. For those aged 40 or older or with increased risks (obesity, ethnicity e.g. Black), you should test every year.If you suffer from chronic conditions such as heart disease you may have to test more frequently.

Skin cancer screening (melaonoma skin cancers)

Integra Healthcare offers a comprehensive skin cancer screening programme in Cayman designed to identify melanoma skin cancers at the earliest possible stage. It also ensures at-risk individuals are followed up on a schedule suited to their degree of risk.

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Step 1:

We will ask you to complete a short history form that helps us create a risk profile. This can be used to set an appropriate schedule going forward too.

Step 2:

Having taken a history, we will then conduct the simple, non-invasive full body scan, using our Automated Total Body Dermascopy FotoFinder. This is the very latest in AI-driven, body-mapping technology. If the total body scan identifies areas or moles that warrant further investigation, this will then be conducted by our dermatologist, either immediately or in a new appointment swiftly arranged.

There is no set age to get a skin cancer screening. Rather, dermatologists make recommendations of ages to get screened based on an individual’s circumstance. This can include family history of people with skin cancer.

Cervical smear tests and other gynaecological screening services

Cervical smear tests can flag up any unusual changes of the cells in the cervic prior to cancerous cells forming.

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According to Cayman Islands Cancer Society, it is recommended that a woman has a pap smear within two years of becoming sexually active or at 21 if she is still a virgin.

After the first appointment, it is recommended women have a pap smear every two years or as recommended by her physician.

The screening involves a physician gathering a sample of cells from the surface of your cervix which is then examined in a laboratory to test for any abnormal cells.

Screening for complications of pregnancy

There are several common screenings for pregnancy. John Hopkins provides an overview of the most common screenings during pregnancy and the importance of these to ensure your baby is healthy. We have compiled some of the key messages:

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Genetic screening: Allows physician to screen for any abnormalities in the foetus and detect possible genetic disorders before birth. This enables early intervention management of a possible condition.

1st trimester: Fetal ultrasound – ultrasound to check on a baby’s health. A baby’s heart, head and spine are looked at to ensure they are developing properly. The fetal ultrasound can be done on the abdomen of the mother or transvaginal. Maternal blood testing is another screening done in the first trimester to evaluate whether the foetus is healthy or if there are certain problems which need to be addressed.

2nd trimester: Prenatal screening – this can involve multiple blood tests and multiple markers. It offers probabilities to parents of their baby being born with certain genetic defects. Routine ultrasounds throughout the pregnancy.

Developmental screening

CDC offers an official definition of developmental screening: “Development screening evaluates how a child is developing…[it] can be done by a doctor or nurse, but also by other professional in healthcare, early childhood education, community or school settings.”

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At the beginning of the screening, your child will be asked to complete a short test or parents will be asked to fill out some questions about their child. The questions asked are researched-based and aim to evaluate how a child is developing in their speech and language, school and in community settings.

It is recommended to have developmental screenings at general check-ups when a child is:

  • 9 months
  • 18 months
  • 30 months

However, every child is different.

Please get in touch with us here at Integra or book an appointment to find out about developmental screenings for your child.

Screening for hearing or vision concerns

Being aware of you and your child’s current capabilities in regards to their hearing and vision is vital. Without the proper diagnosis or care, impairment of these two important senses can impact many aspects of your day-to-day life: such as a child not being able to properly hear their teachers or read the information on the board. Therefore screenings are essential.

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Vision screening

A vision screening, also known as an eye test, evaluates your eyes for any possible disorders or problems with your sight. If a physician sees a potential vision problem, it does not mean you are diagnosed. They will recommend referral to an eye care specialist to provide more of a specialist opinion.

Most vision screening consists of:

  • Distance vision test
  • Close-up vision test
  • Colour blindness test (for children)

Some recommended ages for vision screening are listed below:

  • Newborns – should be checked for eye infections at first check up
  • 6 months – eyes should be checked during well-baby visit
  • 1-4 years – eyes and vision checked during general checkups
  • 5+ – should be checked every year

Hearing tests

Hearing tests are done by an audiologist or hearing specialist. There are several hearing tests however, they vary depending on your age. It is recommended that a child have a hearing screening as a newborn – within a few weeks after birth, a service which is also offered here at Integra!

For a breakdown of these different tests and the recommended ages, click here.

At Integra, we offer vision and hearing screenings for children as a part of our School Health Checks. For more information, click here.

We also offer newborn hearing tests. To book an appointment with a member of our paediatrics, newborn and neonatology team, click here.

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