Health assessments – prevention is better than cure
How healthy am I?
Being healthy is not merely the absence of disease. Health is also a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being. In other words, feeling well does not mean that you are healthy.
You can assess your health status for your age, gender, personal and geographical characteristics with your doctor. According to the findings your doctor will help you design a care plan focused on your health improvement and prevention instead of treatment. A health assessment is a plan of care that identifies your specific needs and how those needs will be addressed by changes in your lifestyle.
Can I live longer?
Almost a third of the causes of death are considered avoidable or preventable. Early diagnosis and better treatment as well as a few key lifestyle changes and preventive medicine can help reduce your risk of getting these illnesses. The main silent killers are: heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, stroke, lung diseases from tobacco, liver problems from alcohol, sexually transmitted diseases, obesity from physical inactivity, and air pollution.
How can I live well and longer?
Love your heart. If you are overweight it is best to check your cholesterol and sugar levels. Your doctor can calculate your cardiovascular risk in 10 years, give advice to prevent diabetes development, and develop an exercise and weight-loss plan according to your requirements
Reduce your risk of cancer. Prevent lung cancer by quitting smoking. Visit the countryside and reduce your pollution intake. Try a Mediterranean diet to prevent pancreatic and oesophageal cancer. Reduce your alcohol intake to prevent breast and liver cancer. Prostate, cervical and breast cancer can be tackled by timely testing.
Think of your brain. Strokes are the third leading cause of death and the leading cause of disability. By regularly checking blood pressure and reducing the amount of caffeine and salt in your diet you can lower your risk of stroke.
Breathe. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease develops slowly and you could have reduced your lung function without knowing it. If you are or were a smoker or you have been exposed to fumes then it is best to carry out lung function tests with your doctor.
Protect your liver and kidneys before they silently fail. This can be done by cutting down your drinking, losing weight and getting the hepatitis B vaccination. Simple checks of your renal and liver functions, BMI and a sexual health check will shed light on the state of these vital organs.
No room for tiredness. Engage in an active lifestyle. If you continue to feel tired or experience a low mood then it may be that you suffer from anaemia, thyroid problems, vitamin D deficiency or other diseases.
Can I measure my health status?
Through a health assessment you can check the milestones of your present and future health. From a personalised approach, a future care plan can be designed to improve your health status, avoid and prevent future diseases. Usually a health assessment includes your medical history, a consultation, physical examination, emotional status review, and blood tests. According to your personal characteristics, lung function test, electrocardiogram, smear test, mammography or cancer biomarkers can also be included among other investigations. A health assessment would help you reduce your stress levels, calculate your risk of cardiovascular diseases and tackle them. You can design a personalized diet, prevent cancer, or simply feel better both mentally and physically.
Because prevention is better than cure, ask a GP about the best health assessment for you.
Dr Aranzazu Rodriguez-Guerrero (MD, PhD) is a Private General Practitioner at Roseneath Medical Practice in Richmond. She completed her specialization in Family and Community Medicine and regularly publishes medical articles for international medical conferences. The Practice’s list is open to new patients and it now offers extended opening hours, including some Sundays. For further information, visit www.roseneath.co.uk