The New Year is here and with it, so is the most common resolution: To be more healthy. I know that this is one of my goals this year. That’s why the we are starting the new year off with a new blog series on health and fitness. We hope you enjoy!
I know people who haven't made a doctor visit in 20 years. Obviously, they feel that they are in good health but I question the wisdom of not keeping track of what's going on inside their bodies as they get older.
I highly recommend regular preventive screenings for key health issues like mammograms and pap smears, colonoscopies, and prostate testing, plus an annual physical check-up, including blood work, especially once you reach middle age. If you have a family history for particular types of disease, always discuss with your doctor about how soon and how often you should be tested.
The reason for all these precautions is simple: many of the serious illnesses we suffer in later life are the cumulative effect of disorders we could have identified and dealt with when they were relatively minor. The key health indicators you might want to watch (plus others advised by your physician) include: blood pressure, blood count, glucose levels, cholesterol, liver function, cardiovascular sensitivity. Averages for some of these are provided in the table at the end of this chapter, though they are only guidelines.
Of course, there are also a number of things you can do to actively monitor your own health. Nobody knows your body better than you do and, while I wouldn't want to encourage you to become a hypochondriac; I also advise you against ignoring the signals from your body that all is not well. For example, persistent headaches, sleeplessness, poor digestive function, chest pain, severe memory loss and prolonged, severe joint or muscular pain should not be ignored.
As you get older, it's a good idea too to check your blood pressure regularly. These days, you can buy reliable home testing equipment for under $100. They also monitor your pulse and some can even detect irregular heartbeat. You should keep a record of your readings as they do vary from one moment to the next and only a consistent record can show you how you're really doing.
Finally, be proactive! You are your best advocate and it’s important to be aware of your health. If you have any questions, or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider.
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