Haims column: Blood — Evaluating your risk of disease
When you leave your doctor’s office after a check-up and are told that “all looks good,” what does that really mean?
Odds are, that the purpose of most medical office visits is to address a known concern like a cold, flu, respiratory, ache/pain, or anxiety. However, even when the purpose for an office is more specific and evaluates blood pressure, infection, cholesterol, or a neurologic concern, are you leaving the office knowing that there are no other health concerns that could (or should) be addressed?
If your medical provider informed you that they had a very sophisticated and accurate diagnostic tool that could reveal ailments that were affecting your current and even future health, would you want to know? If your medical provider had the ability to run diagnostics that could inform you that there was a possible concern, would you go so far as to take corrective actions?
While Star Trek’s Dr. Leonard McCoy’s hand-held tri-recorder diagnostic device does not currently exist to analyze our overall health, great technological strides are being made in electronic monitoring devices. One such device that currently is close to the Star Trek tri-recorder is Basil Leaf Technologies’ DXTER. This consumer-based device has the ability to collect data about your vital signs, body chemistry, and biological functions.
While DXTER is in phase 1 clinical trials and hopefully will pass FDA regulations, the device could be years away from being brought to market. However, until such devices are readily available, there are extremely advanced diagnostic tools available that can give you and your medical provider insight about diseases and conditions such as cancer, diabetes, coronary heart disease, and how well your organs are functioning.
The diagnostic testing I am alluding to – blood testing. Not just a standard complete blood count (CBC) which typically covers red and white blood cell counts, hemoglobin, and platelets, but comprehensive blood testing.
The CBC blood panel, often performed at annual medical visits, does provide medical providers with valuable insight as to how your body is functioning. However, it is more of a high-level overview and does not provide in-depth details to more specific aspects of your health.
Detailed blood tests will inform you of current and potential health risk.
Should you choose to be proactive in your health management and know about the quality of your current health and/or risks that may be developing, make an appointment with your medical provider and get detailed blood tests. Not only will you gain valuable information about your health today, but more importantly you will able to establish a benchmark to monitor your health status looking forward.
Even if you live a relatively healthy lifestyle by eating well and exercising, your body changes as you age. Having a thorough understanding of your blood work is empowering and will enable you to make choices that may help stop preventable chronic diseases before they cause you serious concerns.
You can’t assess your health simply by how you look and feel.
Don’t wait for symptoms to present themselves to learn that you have, or are developing, health concerns. Stopping preventable chronic diseases can happen if you are proactive. While diet, exercise, supplements, and good lifestyle choices will lead to better health, you may not know exactly how well you are doing unless you know your bloodwork numbers.
Get to the phone and make an appointment with your medical provider to have blood panels performed. Explain that you want to be proactive in your health management and want to know if you are at risk for anything from high cholesterol and autoimmune diseases to inflammation.
You need to know your numbers. Ask your medical provider to go over anything in your blood work that is outside of the normal range. Knowing how your blood results are trending overtime is a great tool in understanding your overall health.
Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Glenwood Springs, Basalt, Aspen and the surrounding areas. He is an advocate for our elderly and is available to answer questions. His contact information is, http://www.visitingangels.com/comtns, 970-328-5526