What is an example of a screening test?

A health screening is a prevention method used by healthcare workers to prevent the occurence of major chronic diseases in the public. It is categorized under the secondary prevention techniques targeted to asymptomatic as well as symptomatic patients. On the other hand, primary prevention is targeted for people with risk factors to develop chronic diseases while tertiary prevention is to slow the progress of diseases leading to major consequences and complications.

Worldwide, major illnesses being screened among the public are cardiovascular diseases, including coronary heart diseases, cerebrovascular accidents, and peripheral artery diseases. Besides, mental health screening and screening for elderly has also become equally famous and important as the burden rises per year. Below are some examples of health screening tests done for particular diseases.

1. Mental health screening

Mental health illness like depression, anxiety and mood disorders such as bipolar has became a major problem worldwide leading to hazardous consequences like suicide and aggresiveness. The Whooley questions and Two Question On Depression and One Question on Anxiety are two most common tests used to screen patients with psychiatric symptoms or risk factors.

For specific diseases such as depression, the Beck Depression Inventory is used to screen them according to severity of symptoms experienced by patents.

2. Screening for elderly

It is extremely important to give extra care for the elderly in your house as they are vulnerable to a few things like fall and forgetfulness.Screening tests for the elderly includes assessing risk of fall, dementia, urinary incontinence, visual impairment and hearing loss. Various methods are used to test each and of the parameters stated above according to patients’ capability.

3. Cardiovascular risk screening

Cardiovascular diseases like heart attack and heart failure can be screened earlier and prevented with appropriate management. To understand what the tests done do screen this, you will first need to know the risk factors leading to major cardiovascular events, Some of them are hypertension, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, smoking and obesity. Obesity is screened through a calculation called body mass index (BMI) and the waist circumference. Hypertension is screened by using suitable blood pressure monitoring devices like sphygmomanometer.

Diabetes is screened using the capillary blood sugar levels while high blood cholesterol is screened using the fasting and non fasting lipid profile. Other risk factors like smoking and a sedentary lifestyle are also commonly included in stratifying the risk of you getting a cardiovascular disease. The frequency to conduct these tests depends on your age, sex and other risk factors as well. The framingham score is often used as a guide to categorize patients.

4. Pre marital screening

Pre marital screening has nowadays become popular worldwide to avoid any sexually transmitted diseases like HIV and hepatitis. In some countries, this is a mandatory procedure to be conducted prior to marriage as it is really efficient and helps to reduce the occurrence of such diseases. VDRL test is also done to screen for syphilis among both men and women.

5. Covid 19 screening tests

Due to the outbreak of pandemic, almost everyone worldwide is getting a covid 19 screening. Covid 19 screening can be conducted as a RTK antigen test or a more specific and sensitive test called PCR to confirm your diagnosis. These tests can be pretty expensive and require wearing appropriate PPE to avoid contamination.

6. Cancer screening

Several cancers like colorectal cancer, breast cancer, cervical cancer and prostate cancer can be screened by using tumor markers or specific procedures. For cervical cancer, a method called pap smear is used to obtain a little tissue sample from your cervix to be examined in the laboratory. Fecal tests and colonoscopy can be done to screen colorectal cancer.

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