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Health checks in your 40s

Here are the important health checks for people in their 40s

A female doctor checking a man's vitals in her office
A female doctor checking a man's vitals in her office

Your 40s can be one of the busiest times of your life. Many of us are expected to advance our career while meeting the demands of our home life with the energy of a 20-year-old festival goer; unfortunately, your health is often the first thing that gets put on the backburner.

It’s time to bring your wellbeing back to the top of the priorities list (without having to drop the ball on remembering bread for lunches or finishing that work report).

We’ve all heard the sound advice, ‘Prevention is always better than cure’. This is where health checks come in. Health checks are simple tests or check-ups designed to catch conditions at an early stage when there are no symptoms. In most cases, getting an early diagnosis means a better outcome, because the earlier treatment is started, the better. 

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What health checks should I be having in my 40s?

Your GP should be the first port of call to find out which health checks are a good idea for your age and stage of life. But, as a general overview, here are the health checks that are important for people in their 40s:

For males:

For females:

Blood pressure check

our GP will want to regularly check your blood pressure from the age of 18, so if you’ve been putting it off it’s never too late to start. That’s because you can have high blood pressure and not know it, and untreated high blood pressure can cause many other health concerns. It’s a simple check that only takes a couple of minutes.

What is a blood pressure check?

A blood pressure test measures the pressure in your arteries as your heart pumps. This test is conducted in a doctor’s surgery using a blood pressure machine and cuff.

How often should I have a blood pressure check?

At least every two years.

Who does a blood pressure check?

A doctor or nurse.

Related: Your blood pressure and how to measure it from home

Skin check

In Australia, we have one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. While you might not notice too much sun damage in your 40s, it’s a good idea to become familiar with how your skin normally looks and to see a doctor if you notice a new spot or change in a mole. This is especially important if you have a fair complexion, or if you’ve had skin cancers in the past.

Keen to find out your risk of skin cancer? Take the personalised nib skin self-assessment now! Alternatively, if you've got a spot, mole or freckle you want to check out, it might be time to download the nib SkinVision app? With nib SkinVision, you can check your skin for signs of skin cancer anytime, anywhere – it’s as easy as downloading the app and taking a photo. You’ll receive personalised advice in minutes after uploading the photo.

What is a skin check?

A skin check involves a doctor or skin specialist checking your entire body for skin cancers or suspicious lesions. They’ll scan your body using a specialised tool called a Dermlite Lumio. If they spot a suspicious looking mole, they’ll investigate further and may take a biopsy or suggest just keeping an eye on it.

How often should I have a skin check?

There are no set intervals for most people. For people at high-risk (anyone who’s had melanoma or who has more than five moles with an unusual appearance), skin self-examination should be done every three months and full body examination by your doctor every 6-12 months. Finding a melanoma early can save your life.

Who does a skin check?

Your GP or a dermatologist (skin specialist).

Related: How a skin cancer check can save your life

Mental health check

In Australia, it’s estimated 43 per cent of people will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime, with more than one in six people experiencing anxiety in the last 12 months and 7.5% of people experiencing a mood disorder like depression. So if you’re suffering with your mental health, rest assured you’re not alone. 

If you’re trying to improve your own mental health, or support somebody else with mental health issues, Head to Health provides links to trusted Australian resources and treatment options.

What is a mental health check?

A mental health check is designed to determine whether you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition, such as anxiety or depression.

How often should I have a mental health check?

You should seek help if you have concerns about your mental health, or if you’ve noticed changes in the way you’re thinking or feeling.

Who does the check?

Your GP will conduct the initial assessment and can provide you with a referral to see a psychologist for up to six Medicare rebatable sessions. Once those six sessions are up, you can head back to your GP to ask for a referral for more rebatable sessions, with a maximum of 10 each calendar year. Find out more about the different ways you can get help for mental health, without paying a thing.

Cardiovascular risk test

Tests to check your absolute cardiovascular risk of cardiovascular disease (which includes conditions such as heart attack and stroke) should be done from age 30 in all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults and all other Australians from the age of 45. For those with risk factors this test should be done earlier. Your doctor will ask whether you smoke or have diabetes and recommend several simple tests. Find out about the six modifiable factors you can address to reduce your lifetime risk of cardiovascular disease.

What is a cardiovascular risk test?

A cardiovascular risk assessment could include a:

How often should I have a cardiovascular risk test?

It depends on your risk, but at least every two years.

Who does a cardiovascular risk test?

Your GP.

Related: How a heart health check can save your life

Diabetes risk test

Your risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases when you are over 40 years of age. All people aged 40 and over should be tested to check whether they are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

What is a diabetes risk test?

The Australian Type 2 Diabetes Risk Assessment Tool is a questionnaire that estimates your risk of getting type 2 diabetes in the next five years. Those at high-risk should have blood tests to check their sugar levels every 1-3 years.

How often should I have a diabetes risk test?

Every three years.

Who does a diabetes risk test?

Your GP will ask you a series of questions. Your doctor may recommend that you get blood glucose test which is a simple blood test.

Related: How a diabetes risk test can save your life

Cholesterol and lipids blood test 

A person with high cholesterol will usually experience no symptoms, and unfortunately, being a healthy weight is no guarantee that your cholesterol levels are ideal. High cholesterol and blood lipids (also known as blood fats) can lead to heart and blood vessel disease but, once diagnosed, it can be treated effectively.

What is a cholesterol and lipids blood test?

A simple blood test (you’ll usually need to fast for 8-12 hours before the test, which means no snacks, just water!)

How often should I have a cholesterol and lipids blood test?

At least every five years, starting at age 45. Depending on your risk, you may need testing more often.

Who does a cholesterol and lipids blood test?

Your GP can do the test for you or provide you with a pathology request to have it done.

Related: Healthy cholesterol levels in Australia

Eye test

You’d be surprised how many people put off having an eye test. Once you hit your 40s you are more likely to have problems with your eyes, so stop delaying!

One of the most important tests is to check for glaucoma. This is a condition that causes increased pressure inside the eyes and becomes more of a risk as you get older. You won’t notice any symptoms until your eyesight has been significantly affected, so it’s worth having a simple test to check for it and start treatment if needed. Other conditions, such as long or short-sightedness, can also be picked up during an eye test.

If you have family members with glaucoma, your risk of developing it is increased. Testing should begin 10-15 years earlier than the age your relatives were diagnosed. If you are of African or Asian descent you should start having eye tests for glaucoma at age 40.  

You can visit nib First Choice Optical to help you to search for local optometrists; it's our community of specially selected health providers, who have promised they will deliver quality care and value for money1.

What is an eye test?

It’s a full eye examination, including the front and back of your eyes. The pressure inside your eyes is also tested, and your field of vision is checked.

How often should I have an eye test?

Your doctor or optometrist will let you know how frequently you should be tested, as it depends on your overall risk.

Who does an eye test?

An optometrist or ophthalmologist (eye specialist).

Related: Do I need an eye test?

Dental check-up

Regular dental check-ups, which are recommended throughout life, have wide-ranging benefits. That’s because conditions that affect your teeth and mouth (such as gum disease and tooth decay) can affect your overall health as well as your smile. So, it might be time to bite the bullet (‘scuse the pun) and book one in.

While you can go to any dentist recognised by nib, by visiting an nib Dental Care Centre2 eligible members can receive 100% back on dental check-ups. Book an appointment online today.

What is a dental check-up?

This includes an examination of your mouth, teeth and lips. Dentists also usually clean the teeth and gums, and may offer you a fluoride treatment.

How often should I have a dental check?

At least once a year, but ideally every six months.

Who does a dental check?


Kidney health check

Kidney disease is known as a silent disease, as there are often no symptoms until it is advanced. That’s why a kidney health check is recommended for people thought to be at increased risk. Ask your doctor if this applies to you.

What is a kidney health check?

A kidney health check has three components: a blood pressure check, a urine test and a blood test.

How often should I have a kidney check?

Every 1-2 years.

Who does a kidney check?

Your GP.

Related: How a kidney health check can save your life

Self-check of testicles

Testicular cancer is rare but is more common if you have an undescended testicle. It has a very good cure rate if caught early. Formal screening tests are not needed, but you should be aware of how your testicles normally feel. If any lumps, changes or symptoms develop, you should see your doctor.

What is a testicle check?

Being familiar with the usual feel of your testicles.

How often should I have this check?

It’s an ongoing self-assessment.

Who does the check?

You do.

Related: How a testicle cancer check can save your life

Cervical cancer screening test

Cervical cancer is almost always caused by a persistent infection with certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV). Current screening methods test for these high-risk types of HPV and for precancerous changes in the cervix.

The HPV test detects infection with the virus before it causes precancerous or cancerous changes in the cervix and has replaced pap tests for cervical cancer screening.

What is a cervical screening test?

A sample of cells is collected from your cervix and tested for infection with types of HPV that can cause cervical cancer.

If the test is positive for high-risk types of HPV, the cervical cells are also examined for changes under a microscope.

How often should I have a cervical screening test?

If you're a person with a cervix aged 25 to 74 and have been sexually active, it's essential to get a cervical screening test every five years, irrespective of having received the HPV vaccine.

Who does a cervical screening test?

The test can be done by yourself with a high vaginal swab instead of a cervical swab. If there is abnormal bleeding, however, your GP should take the sample. Cervical swab tests can be done by your GP or a Family Planning Clinic or Women’s Health Centre doctor or trained nurse.

Related: How the new cervical cancer test can save your life

Self-check of breasts

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among Australian females. However, males can also get breast cancer. Approximately one in 500 men are diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, which is around 200 men diagnosed every year.

You should be breast aware, which means being familiar with the look and feel of your breasts and seeing your doctor if you notice any changes. Being breast aware may improve your chances of detecting breast lumps and other breast changes earlier.

Here’s a guide to performing a self-examination for breast cancer.

What is a breast self-examination?

Being familiar with the usual look and feel of your breasts.

How often should I have this check?

Ongoing self-assessments.

Who does the check?

You do.

Related: How a breast cancer check can save your life


Screening mammograms can detect breast cancers before symptoms develop. Australian women aged in their 40s are eligible for free mammogram screening through BreastScreen Australia. You won’t get an invitation to screen (as this starts at age 50), but you can choose to have a free screening mammogram in your 40s.

What is a mammogram?

A mammogram is a special x-ray, which involves having images of your breasts taken from different angles.

How often should I have a mammogram?

There is no standard recommended frequency for people with breasts in their 40s. Check with your GP for individual advice. 

Who does a mammogram?

A specialist radiographer (health professional specialising in breast imaging). You can find a specialist at one of Australia’s 750+ screening locations.

Bone mineral density test

Bone density tests can detect osteoporosis, a condition where your bones become less dense and prone to fractures. People in their 40s who have gone through menopause and also have other factors that can increase their risk of osteoporosis may be offered this test. Your GP can refer you for testing.

What is a bone mineral density test?

A DXA scan (dual X-ray absorptiometry, also sometimes called DEXA test), which uses low-dose X-rays to show the density of specific bones (usually the lower spine and the top of the thigh bone).

How often should I have a bone density scan?

It depends on the initial test results.

Who does a bone density scan?

A radiographer (health professional specialising in imaging).

Need some extra support?

At nib, we’re committed to keeping you at your healthiest, which is why we’ve put together a list of tips for keeping healthy in your 40s.

We also offer a range of Health Management Programs available at no additional cost for eligible members3.

These programs are delivered by qualified health professionals and designed to be tailored to your needs – whether that's to help get you in shape, keep you out of hospital, improve your physical and mental wellbeing or to aid a quicker recovery after you've had surgery.

For more information, check out our Health Management Programs page.

Is it time for a health cover check-up?

Everyone’s health cover needs are different. To help you understand what level of cover is best suited to you, get in touch with our cover experts today to learn more about what people like you are commonly claiming on and what cover would be the best fit.
If you’re not with nib, but you’d like to find out more about our cover options, get a quote today or contact our award-winning member service team on 13 16 42.

Please note: This is not an all-inclusive list; there may be other health checks that are recommended based on your age and individual circumstances. The tips throughout this article serve as broad information and should not replace any advice you have been given by your medical practitioner. Please make an appointment with your GP to receive advice on the health checks you will need based on your personal circumstances.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are at increased risk of many diseases, and so are often recommended to start health checks at an earlier age. You may also be recommended to have the tests or checks more often. Please see your GP for personalised advice.

1 Bulk-billed eye examinations are subject to Medicare eligibility. nib Eye Care Centres are owned and operated by The Optical Company (NSW) Pty Ltd ABN 32 153 741 970. The nib Eye Care Centre trademark is owned by nib health funds ABN 83 000 124 381 and is used under license by The Optical Company.

2 Payment by nib of dental benefits is subject to serving relevant waiting periods, annual limits and service limits. Check your cover by visiting Online Services or call 13 16 42. The dental check-up covers an examination (011, 012), scale and clean (114) or removal of plaque (111), fluoride treatment (121) and bite-wing or periapical x-rays (022, maximum of 2 per year), as deemed necessary and appropriate in the clinical opinion of the dentist (dentures not included). The services provided will be deducted from your annual limits and/or service limits. The 100% back offer is not to be used in conjunction with any other offer or government scheme, nor substitutable or redeemable for cash and is only available with dentists who have a preferred provider agreement with nib. ~nib Dental Care Centres are owned and operated by Pacific Smiles Group Limited ABN 42 103 087 449. The nib Dental Care Centre trademark is owned by nib health funds ABN 83 000 124 381 and is used under license by Pacific Smiles Group Limited.

3Available to eligible nib members who’ve held Hospital Cover for 12 months and served their relevant waiting periods. Additional criteria vary according to each program.

Fact checked by Dr Hamish Black January 2024