Suite 401, Gateway Hospital Medical Centre, 36 Aurora Drive, Umhlanga Ridge 031 566 5959

Prevention is better than Cure

Last month we looked at a very simplistic test that can be used to indicate your longevity and a few exercises to improve the outcome of this test.

But what about all the other indicators and tests that help us detect health conditions before they become a problem? Are they also important to check? And what are we supposed to do with those results?

Should we participate in health screening?

prevention glucose test

My father is a pharmacist and I’ve watched over the years  as he tests (screens) himself and my mother for easily preventable conditions. It was always followed by a carefully adjusted lifestyle based on the results. They’re both in their 70’s and going strong. My father has also pricked my finger and checked my glucose levels, cholesterol and blood pressure whenever I gave him half a chance. And I’m thankful. Because it has developed a habit of getting checked annually and so far so good.

Prevention of illness and maintenance of health for longevity is the largest focus of the wellness industry. The benefit of getting these screening tests done by far outweighs the small cost attached to the tests. Many corporate companies see the value of this knowledge and often provide their workers with access to these tests during annual wellness programmes. Even medical aid companies see how they can save big amounts by making sure their members detect health problems early. Most have wellness programmes that recommend screening and even incentivise their members to get checked annually. If the big guns think it is important, shouldn’t we also consider them important?

What should we get tested?

prevention blood pressure

I know my medical insurance company provides the following tests for free annually.

  • Prostrate specific antigen (PSA) Levels for men over 40.
  • Pap smear for females 18 and older.
  • Mammogram for females over 40.
  • Fasting lipogram blood test for males and females over 40.
  • Fasting blood sugar test for males and females over 40.
  • A medical consultation for the preventative care benefit.

It is recommendable to also get blood glucose, blood cholesterol and blood pressure checked.

Last but not least, your body mass index (BMI) is a good one to check too. This indicates where you sit on the scale (literally) of obesity. Obesity and being overweight increases your risk of developing  a number of chronic conditions including contributing to joint aches and pains.

I’d recommend that you contact your medical aid, check what screening benefits you have and make full use of the option.

Most GP’s will cover these tests or you can also visit your local pharmacy, many of which have a clinic where a nurse can do the tests. Your GP or nurse may recommend a few extra tests if they feel your history warrants it.

What do we do with the results?

prevention medical

It’s best to have a discussion with your GP or homeopathic doctor so that you understand the results and the implications thereof. Together you make an informed choice on how to change your life to adjust to the outcome of the tests.

Healthier food choices, getting enough rest (sleep) and regular moderate to intense exercise may be the only change a person needs to make. They have been shown to effectively control moderately high cholesterol, blood sugar,  blood pressure and reducing BMI by numerous studies. In fact they are often under-prescribed as a solution, mostly because people are bad at persevering (needing a quick fix)  and not because they aren’t effective. These really are a good place to start if you are able to use the benefits as motivation.

For the more serious results, you may need to add some medication to control blood pressure, cholesterol or blood sugar. You might detect cancer early, get started early on a programme to fight it and improve your chances of recovery. Exercise, healthy food and rest will also compliment all of these treatments.

Knowing your results from year to year can easily act as motivation for a healthier lifestyle. If your cholesterol is high this year, you embark on an exercise regime to reduce it and the following test shows a decline, that’s motivation and also proof that your choices are right. Knowing you are getting healthier should always be a stronger motivation than the smoothie you can buy with your points.

If we are serious about staying healthy and active well into our old age. If we don’t want to suffer from a condition that is preventable if detected early. If we want to have the right information to motivate our lifestyle choices. Getting these tests done are a no-brainer. Why not join me this week (Corporate Wellness Week, 6-10 July) while I get a batch of my tests done and continue on a path of health and longevity.

A list of local pharmacies that offer screening tests at their clinics

If you can suggest any other pharmacies in the Durban North, Umhlanga, Gateway areas that I should include, please add to comments.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to replace the advice, diagnosis or treatment of a healthcare professional (HCP). It is for information purposes only. Please consult your HCP if you have any concerns.

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