How familiar are you with your health? Do you know where you stand with even the most general health questions? Do you know your baselines?
"It's never too early to start thinking about keeping yourself healthy," says Sai Hanumanthu MD , a cardiologist with the TriHealth Heart Institute. "Everyone needs to have a sit-down conversation and determine how much they know about their health."
Know These Vitals:
Regardless of your gender or age, there are five things everyone should know about their health, and they include:
- Blood pressure
- Blood sugar
- Cholesterol level
- Level of physical activity
- Family history of health problems
"If you can address these five issues, you have done a tremendous amount in trying to understand what your risk factors are," Dr. Hanumanthu explains. "Knowing these five things can greatly impact your wellbeing and life as you age." Also, being aware of these important, yet simple facts about yourself, helps raise the level of information that can be discussed at an office visit, which can lead to further questions. And since most doctors only get 15 minutes with each patient, time needs to be used efficiently.
Be Proactive With Your Health:
"The number one risk factor for stroke is hypertension , and a lot of people do not know what their blood pressure is," Dr. Hanumanthu says. If you do not know your blood pressure, ask your provider.
Male or female, once you reach age 20, it is recommended to have a cholesterol test once every five years. If you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol, an annual test is recommended, and if you're taking a cholesterol controlling statin medication , a test twice a year is needed.
It's also important to know your blood sugar levels. Men, particularly, are at high risk for developing insulin resistance. This normally occurs for men who gain weight in the abdominal area, and women are at risk when they carry excess weight around their hips. Add in a risk factor such as a family history of diabetes and your risk goes up several fold.
Make sure you are aware of your family history, and any health conditions that have directly affected family members. Also, incorporating a level of physical activity into your lifestyle is important.
Seek Treatment if Needed:
Once you know these five facts, if medicine is needed for treatment, there should be no associated guilt. "Medicines can be your friends, and it's not a sign of weakness if you are on medication," Dr. Hanumanthu explains. By understanding your health, you're being proactive and establishing a healthy practice as you age.
"We can't choose our parents and we can't alter our genetics, but we can certainly identify with the five things above," Dr. Hanumanthu adds. "These are simple, easy things to do, and they're not all that expensive."
It is also important to remember that many healthcare professionals can help address questions related to these vital facts. From cardiologists, primary care doctors, pharmacists and even nurses, they are all able to help as you work to better understand your health.