Monday, July 9, 2012

Know Your Numbers!

“We are young, we are strong” and a few years later we are SICK!

As young people, we feel unbreakable. We might worry about our shape and image; however, we never think about our health. Too soon, isn’t it?!

Well, maybe not! Disease comes at a later stage because we fail to prevent it as youngsters. I had to learn about this the hard way. In fact, I went for a blood test a week ago and as healthy as I am, being a dietitian, I discovered that I had a low HDL, good cholesterol, level. And this was affecting my LDL, bad cholesterol, level. pic

And so, I realized that even in our twenties, as full of life as we might be, we should always have that sound in our head that talks to us at least once a year, reminding us to go for a checkup.

So what are the important tests we should always do?

1. Cholesterol and triglycerides

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), “high cholesterol is one of the major controllable risk factors for heart disease. When too much LDL circulates in the blood, it can slowly build up in the inner walls of the arteries and make them less flexible. This condition is known as atherosclerosis” and it may result in heart attacks or strokes.

“Heart disease can develop at any age, so it’s crucial that you make good, health conscious decisions that will benefit you now and in the long run”, preaches the AHA. In fact, the latter highly recommends people to know their numbers by getting tested at least once every 5 years starting their twenties. This is important especially for men as they are more at risk, those who have a family history of heart disease, those who smoke and drink alcohol. Of course, for those who have inadequate results, they should get tested more often.

High triglyceride levels are also correlated with a higher risk of coronary heart disease.

Normal range for:
Total Cholesterol

I personally believe that getting tested once a year wouldn’t hurt especially for someone who is at risk of heart disease due to the factors cited above; on the contrary, it would put some people at ease and help prevent potential diseases for others.

2. Glucose levels

Testing your glucose levels is very important in determining possible cases of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) or hyperglycemia (high blood sugar). Both cases are dangerous. In fact the first one might be related to diabetes, diseases of the kidneys, liver or pancreas, metabolic problems, alcohol use, etc. and the second may be related to type I and II diabetes.

Normal range
Fasting blood glucose
<100 mg/dL
2 hours after eating (postprandial)
<140 mg/dL

3. Complete Blood Count (CBC)

The CBC is one of the most ordered blood tests. It is the analysis of the different components of blood in order to determine the concentration of white and red blood cells as well as platelets. The purpose of these numbers is to determine whether there is an inflammation somewhere, anemia, bone marrow problems, etc.

4. Ferritin and serum iron

In conjunction with other tests, ferritin and serum iron may detect a possible anemia. These tests are very important for us young women as

- we periodically lose blood
- our diets are sometimes inadequate and do not provide sufficient iron
- a large number is vegetarian and may not be getting enough iron

5. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is closely related to bone metabolism. In fact, the body uses vitamin D as a vehicle to help absorb calcium we take from food. And of course, proper levels of calcium promote strong, dense bones. You should always check your vitamin D levels as a deficiency is very commonly seen. Also, there is increasing evidence that vitamin D deficiency may increase the risk for some cancers, immune diseases and cardiovascular disease.

Normal range
25 hydroxyvitamin D
30-74 ng/mL

As we get older, it becomes harder to stay healthy. So you better start acting NOW! Of course, you should visit your doctor and let him prescribe the adequate tests.


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