We all want to live a long and happy life, but taking care of our health can sometimes fall by the wayside in our busy schedules. It’s easy to put off medical checkups when we feel fine. However, early detection of illnesses is crucial to maintaining good health. In fact, many medical conditions are asymptomatic in their early stages, making regular checkups and tests essential. This article will discuss four medical checkups and tests you shouldn’t miss and why they’re necessary.
1. Body Mass Index (BMI)
Body mass index, or BMI, measures body fat based on a person’s height and weight. Maintaining a healthy BMI is crucial for overall health and reducing the risk of opportunistic diseases. When you are overweight or underweight, your body is more susceptible to various health problems, including heart disease and diabetes.
Sudden weight loss can also indicate more serious underlying health issues like mesothelioma, which is usually caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos. Sudden weight loss, coupled with fatigue, chest pain, or shortness of breath, can be symptoms of mesothelioma.
If mesothelioma is suspected, the doctor may recommend further tests to determine the extent of the disease. These tests include imaging scans such as X-rays and CT scans to get a closer look at the affected area and determine the size and location of any tumors. In addition, blood tests may be done to check for elevated levels of certain proteins, such as mesothelin and fibulin-3. These tests can aid in early detection and help with treatment planning. However, the prognosis for mesothelioma is typically poor, with a median survival time of only 12 to 21 months.
In addition to seeking medical attention, if you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or exposed to asbestos for long periods, you may be eligible for mesothelioma compensation through legal channels. Mesothelioma compensation can help cover the high treatment costs and provide financial support for individuals and families affected by this devastating disease. An experienced mesothelioma lawyer can help navigate the legal process and ensure victims receive the compensation they deserve.
2. Blood Pressure Screening
High blood pressure, or hypertension, commonly affects millions worldwide. It is often termed “the silent killer” because it usually has no symptoms. Still, it can lead to serious health problems like heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure. In 2020, over 670,000 deaths in the US had hypertension as a primary or contributing cause.
Regular blood pressure screenings are essential to detect high blood pressure early and prevent complications. During a blood pressure screening, a healthcare professional will use a sphygmomanometer to measure your blood pressure. This device consists of a cuff, a pump, and a dial. The cuff is wrapped around your arm, and the pump inflates it to stop the blood flow temporarily. Then, the healthcare professional releases the pressure and listens for your pulse using a stethoscope. They will take two readings: the diastolic pressure (the bottom number) and the systolic pressure (the top number).
A regular blood pressure reading is less than 120/80 mmHg (millimeters of mercury). You may have hypertension if your blood pressure is consistently above this range. However, a single high reading does not necessarily mean that you have hypertension. Blood pressure changes throughout the day and may be affected by stress, physical activity, and medications.
It’s essential to understand your blood pressure numbers and what they mean. Here’s a breakdown of the different blood pressure categories:
- Normal: less than 120/80 mmHg
- Elevated: 120-129/less than 80 mmHg
- Stage 1 hypertension: 130-139/80-89 mmHg
- Stage 2 hypertension: 140/90 or higher mmHg
If you are diagnosed with hypertension, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, a healthy diet, and stress management techniques. They may also prescribe medication to lower your blood pressure.
3. Cholesterol Test
Cholesterol is a fatty, wax-like substance found in the blood and is necessary for the body to function correctly. However, high cholesterol levels can lead to the hardening of the arteries, also called atherosclerosis, which augments the risk of stroke and heart disease.
Cholesterol is carried in the blood by two types of lipoproteins: high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL). LDL is usually called “bad” cholesterol since it contributes to the buildup of plaque in the arteries. Conversely, HDL is called “good” cholesterol since it helps remove excess cholesterol from the body.
A cholesterol screening involves a simple blood test that measures your total cholesterol levels. A normal cholesterol level is less than 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). However, your healthcare provider will also consider your age, gender, and other risk factors when interpreting your results. Generally, LDL cholesterol levels should be less than 100 mg/dL for people at low risk of heart disease and less than 70 mg/dL for those at high risk. HDL cholesterol levels should be 60 mg/dL or higher to protect against heart disease. CDC recommends that healthy adults should get their cholesterol checked every 4 to 6 years.
If you have high cholesterol, your doctor may advise lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet, exercising, quitting smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight. They may also prescribe medication such as statins to help lower your cholesterol levels.
4. Eye Exam
When was the last time you had an eye exam? If you can’t remember, it may be time to schedule one. During an eye exam, an eye doctor will not only check your vision but also examine the health of your eyes and look for signs of other health problems.
Did you know that the eyes are the only place in your body where blood vessels can be seen without surgery? This means that an eye exam can also provide a glimpse into the health of your blood vessels and cardiovascular system. In fact, several studies have shown that people with eye diseases, such as glaucoma, have a higher risk of heart disease and stroke.
An eye exam can also detect other conditions, such as cataracts, macular degeneration, and dry eye syndrome. These conditions can be treated more effectively when caught early, so regular eye exams are crucial for maintaining healthy eyesight.
The American Optometric Association recommends a comprehensive eye exam every two years for adults ages 18 to 64 who are not at risk for eye disease. However, if you have a family history of eye disease or other risk factors, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, you may need more frequent eye exams.
To sum up, prioritizing regular health checkups can help detect potential health issues early on and enable you to take necessary steps to manage them before they become more serious. Remember, investing in your health today can pay off in the future and lead to a happier, healthier life. So don’t put off those critical health screenings any longer – schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider today!