“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Benjamin Franklin
Out of total 24 hours a day, we have time for earning money around 10-12 hours a day. We have no time for keeping our health in order. I recently met a diabetic patient on medication. He said I don’t like exercise, but I have control over the diet. I eat sweet daily as I have a habit. This energetic businessman age 50 has no time for exercise and his diet includes sweet which is like a poison for a diabetic patient. This is the state of affairs for many of us.
We have not just completely ignored the wisdom “Prevention is better than cure” but we even don’t do preventive medical tests also. The irony is we religiously do preventive maintenance of our car but not of our body.
Blood pressure is a common disorder known as the silent killer as it goes unnoticed for long. In the US and in India around 1 person in 3 is suffering from high blood pressure. Imagine how many people must be dying for not diagnosing this very common disease.
“High blood pressure or hypertension kills nearly 1.5 million people every year
in South-East Asia,” Dr. Ramakanta Panda, AHI.
Likewise, there are many diseases we can prevent by taking timely action if we are as alert about our health as we are about our career and financial growth.
Following are the some of the preventive tests you must do every year even if you think you are healthy.
- Blood Pressure:
If the high number (systolic number) is between 120 and 139 or the bottom number (diastolic number) is between 80 and 89 mm Hg, then continue to have it checked every year.
If the top number is greater than 140 or the bottom number is greater than 90, schedule an appointment with your doctor.
This is a blood test known as a lipid profile test. This test measures total cholesterol, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels. The LDL and triglycerides should ideally be < 130 and HDL > 60.
HDL is known as good cholesterol and LDL as bad cholesterol. Higher HDL is better and LDL should be lower.
According to Mayo Clinic, Triglycerides are a type of fat (lipid) found in our blood. When you eat, our body converts any calories, it doesn’t need to use right away into triglycerides. The triglycerides are stored in our fat cells. Later, hormones release triglycerides for energy between meals. If you regularly eat more calories than you burn, particularly “easy” calories like carbohydrates and fats, you may have high triglycerides (hypertriglyceridemia).
Read: 10 symptoms of Heart Disease & How to Reverse it
This is a blood and urine tests which measure sugar level in the blood. Blood is taken in the morning after an overnight fast. Fasting blood sugar level less than 100 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L) is normal. A fasting blood sugar level from 100 to 125 mg/dL (5.6 to 6.9 mmol/L) is considered prediabetes. If it’s 126 mg/dL (7 mmol/L) or higher on two separate tests, you have diabetes.
The 2nd test is a Post Prandial Glucose test conducted 2 hours after the morning meal. According to Metropolis; this is a blood glucose test that decides the measure of a particular type of sugar, named as glucose. In this test, Glucose is measured in the blood, particularly after a meal.
Ordinarily, blood glucose levels elevate marginally after eating a meal. This expansion causes the pancreas to discharge insulin, which helps the body in expelling glucose from the blood and storing it for providing vital energy to the body. Individuals with diabetes may not create or react legitimately to insulin, which increases their blood glucose levels. High blood glucose levels can drastically harm the eyes, kidneys, nerves, and veins.
A 2-hour PPBS test measures blood glucose precisely 2 hours in the wake of eating a meal. By this point, glucose has generally retreated down in healthy individuals, yet it might, in any case, be raised in individuals with diabetes. Subsequently, it serves as a trial for whether an individual may have diabetes, or of whether an individual who has diabetes is effectively controlling their blood glucose levels.
Read: Everything you need to know about Diabetes
According to National Cancer Institute following tests helps in early detection of cancer;
- Colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, and high-sensitivity fecal occult blood tests (FOBTs): These tests have all been shown to reduce deaths from colorectal cancer. Colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy also help prevent colorectal cancer because they can detect abnormal colon growths (polyps) that can be removed before they develop into cancer.
- Low-dose helical computed tomography: This test to screen for lung cancer has been shown to reduce lung cancer deaths among heavy smokers ages 55 to 74.
- Mammography: This method to screen for breast cancer has been shown to reduce mortality from the disease among women ages 40 to 74, especially those ages 50 or older.
- Pap test and human papillomavirus (HPV) testing: These tests reduce the incidence of cervical cancer because they allow abnormal cells to be identified and treated before they become cancer. They also reduce deaths from cervical cancer. Testing is generally recommended to begin at age 21 and to end at age 65, as long as recent results have been normal.
- Clinical breast exams and regular breast self-exams: Routine examination of the breasts by health care providers or by women themselves have not been shown to reduce deaths from breast cancer. However, if a woman or her health care provider notices a lump or other unusual change in the breast, it is important to get it checked out.
- PSA test: This blood test, which is often done along with a digital rectal exam, is able to detect prostate cancer at an early stage. However, expert groups no longer recommend routine PSA testing for most men because studies have shown that it has little or no effect on prostate cancer deaths and leads to overdiagnosis and overtreatment.
There are a few more tests also which are important for some other types of cancer.
Read: Cancer, what everyone needs to know?
Visit your dentist and get your oral hygiene tests done. Early detection of tooth decay can help in limiting the damage and early treatment.
Centers for disease control and prevention recommends following eye test frequency for different ages;
- Children’s eyes should be checked regularly by an eye doctor or pediatrician. The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends vision screening for all children at least once between age 3 and 5 years to detect amblyopia or risk factors for the disease.
- People with diabetes should have a dilated eye exam every year.
- Some people are at higher risk for glaucoma and should have a dilated eye exam every 2 years:
- African Americans aged 40 years and older
- Everyone older than age 60, especially Mexican Americans
- People with a family history of glaucoma
The bone mineral density (BMD) test is the primary test used to identify osteoporosis and low bone mass. One of the preferred and most accurate ways to measure BMD is Dexa-Scan (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry or DXA). It uses a low energy X-ray to evaluate bone density in the hip and/or spine. A BMD value that is less than 1 standard deviation below the young adult mean is considered normal. BMD in osteopenia has a value between -1 and -2.5 standard deviations below the young adult meanwhile osteoporosis BMD values are even lower and are at least -2.5 standard deviations below the mean.(1)
Read: Muscle Disuse Atrophy – A dangerous consequence of not exercising
An electrocardiogram can be a useful way to find out whether our high blood pressure has caused any damage to our heart or blood vessels. Because of this, you may be asked to have an ECG when you are first diagnosed with high blood pressure.
Some of the things an ECG reading can detect are:
- Cholesterol clogs up our heart’s blood supply
- A heart attack in the past
- Enlargement of one side of the heart
- Abnormal heart rhythms
The best approach to know the thyroid capacity is to check the TSH level in thyroid test. The low level of TSH in the blood test for thyroid indicates that there is excessive production of thyroid hormones (hyperthyroidism) whereas a higher level of TSH in thyroid test indicates that there is the lower production of thyroid hormones (hypothyroidism).
TSH test is recommended to know the level of production of TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) secreted by the pituitary gland and balances the production of thyroid hormones. (2)
- Liver Function Test (LFT):
Liver function tests are blood tests that check to see how well our liver is working. They check for liver damage and can help diagnose liver diseases such as hepatitis and cirrhosis. (3)
- Kidney Function Test (KFT):
Our kidney health is determined by 2 tests: ACR (Albumin to Creatinine Ratio) and GFR (glomerular filtration rate). GFR is a measure of kidney function and is performed through a blood test. Our GFR will determine what stage of kidney disease you have – there are 5 stages. Know your stage. ACR is a urine test to see how much albumin (a type of protein) is in our urine. Too much albumin in our urine is an early sign of kidney damage. (4)
- Uric Acid:
The higher Uric acid level is dangerous to kidney and joints.
Most uric acid dissolves in blood and travels to the kidneys. From there, it passes out in urine. If our body produces too much uric acid or does not remove enough if it, you can get sick. A high level of uric acid in the blood is called hyperuricemia.
This test checks to see how much uric acid we have in our blood. Another test can be used to check the level of uric acid in our urine.
Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D are amongst the most important vitamins the human body needs. Vitamin B12 is needed to make the genetic material our body needs, it also helps in decreasing heart disease and is required to produce red blood cells. Vitamin D helps in strengthening the bones as it helps in maintaining phosphorus and calcium levels in our blood. Early detection is necessary to prevent these diseases.
A simple blood test measures the level of these vitamins.
These are some of the basic health tests to detect some of the health issues one might encounter. Some of the tests may not be done annually and shall be done after the age of 40 or 50 but the kind of fast and stressful world we are living, there is no harm of being extra cautious.
Many people we meet avoid preventive tests, fearing some detection. They fear they will have to alter their lifestyle. But they forget that the status quo could prove to be more painful and deadly. Preventive health tests give us time to take timely action to regain our fitness.
We are in the midst of New Year resolution season here is a suggestion for two must new year resolutions if you have crossed 3 decades of our life:
- To do preventive health checkups once in a year starting 1st week of January 2018.
- To dedicate one hour daily for the maintenance of our good health.
“Treatment without prevention is simply unsustainable.” Bill Gates.
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