In our fast-paced culture, we often wait until we experience symptoms before we seek answers about our health. For example, maybe a person starts to feel tired and gain weight, so they schedule a checkup. The physician will likely run comprehensive blood tests and perhaps discover the patient has hypothyroidism. This triggers a medication and management plan that can last a lifetime. Judy Nix, BSN, RN, walks us through the possibilities of a more proactive approach to our well-being, and how Focus on Health events are giving the public access to affordable, actionable results.
Having the right information means people are empowered to prevent disease or catch it before symptoms appear, control a known condition, or slow the progression of a disease. It boils down to being involved in taking more personal responsibility for your health and well-being.
Who should visit Focus on Health?
These screening events are invaluable for a range of reasons, and appeal to those who …
- prefer to be informed and involved with their health
- have never had or it has been several years since they had blood work done
- do not see a family doctor on a regular basis
- have a history of chronic disease or a family history of heart disease, thyroid, diabetes, stroke, cancer, etc.
It is always a good idea for adults to take advantage of these events to get a good overall baseline regarding their health. The next important step is to share that information with your physician so the results can be evaluated in the context of your personal and family health history.
6 reasons you need regular blood tests:
1. Symptoms can come too late.
Given the choice, most of us would rather stop or slow a condition from growing in severity before it is out of control. Routine blood tests/health screenings give you a check-in to gauge how your diet, exercise, supplements, and lifestyle are impacting your health. You can then make the necessary adjustments.
2. Facts are power.
You cannot use how you look and feel alone as a measurement of health. Trouble on the inside doesn’t always show on the outside. Common conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease can often be detected through biomarkers such as your triglycerides, HDL and LDL cholesterol, blood sugar, and HbA1c.
3. The more clues, the better.
If you heard a strange noise in the house, you would try to investigate the source, right? Similarly, if you are gaining weight, you should consider looking into possible causes. A lack of exercise and poor diet aren’t the only causes of this problem. High cortisol levels are linked as well, and without a blood test, you might never make the connection and take steps to reduce stress.
4. It’s all about balance.
Taking advantage of regular blood testing gives you a complete picture of your vitamin and mineral levels. These micronutrients play a key role in a healthy, functioning body and impact a range of common ailments.
5. You’re unique.
There are countless factors that play a role in determining a person’s diet, lifestyle, and habits – from insulin sensitivity to thyroid function to metabolism. Managing your well-being is not one size fits all. Arm yourself with the right information so that you, along with your healthcare provider, can work to develop the best wellness plan.
6. Time is precious.
Even if you live a healthy lifestyle, your body changes. Monitoring the numbers over time helps you stay on top of risk factors for disease and stay on track for a happy life.
Knowing the tests.
Comprehensive Metabolic Panel
A comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) is a blood test that provides information about the liver and kidneys, body sugar and protein levels, and electrolyte and fluid balance. The CMP helps doctors look at glucose, calcium, albumin and total blood protein, sodium, potassium, carbon dioxide, and chloride, blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine, alkaline phosphatase (ALP), alanine amino transferase (ALT), aspartate amino transferase (AST), and bilirubin.
A lipid panel measures total cholesterol, high-density lipoproteins (HDL) cholesterol, low-density lipoproteins (LDL) cholesterol, and triglycerides.
A thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) test is used to evaluate how well the thyroid gland is working. This testing is used to diagnose and monitor the treatment of a thyroid disorder and help evaluate pituitary gland function.
The hemoglobin A1c test may be used to screen for and diagnose diabetes and prediabetes in adults. A hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) test is also used to monitor long-term glucose (sugar) control in people with diabetes.
The hemogram evaluates the three major types of cells in the blood: red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. A hemogram may be ordered as part of a routine checkup if you are feeling more tired than usual, seem to have an infection, or have unexplained bruising or bleeding.
Prostate-specific antigen (PSA)
PSA is a substance produced by the prostate gland. Elevated PSA levels may indicate prostate cancer, a noncancerous condition such as prostatitis, or an enlarged prostate. Professional organizations vary in their recommendations about who should and who shouldn't get a PSA screening test, so consult your physician.
Vitamin D plays a part in the bone-building process by helping the body to absorb calcium. It is also felt that it supports a healthy immune system, and may help the body fight off infections and prevent the development of autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
Frequency of testing depends on the individual, their age and their gender, but the right screenings are always an important part of patient-healthcare provider dialogue. Nurses are on-hand at each of the Focus on Health events to answer questions and look forward to assisting you with taking this empowering step in your wellness journey.
Join us for a Focus on Health event near you!
*Patients should always seek a medical professional’s feedback when evaluating test results. Schedule an appointment with your primary healthcare provider to establish a plan.