Eating right, sleeping well, exercising regularly...these are the tenets of "good health" that we hear so often they've almost become a dull buzz in the back of our minds. "Yeah yeah," you might think, "tell me something I don't know about health."
Okay. How about the fact that most Americans don't know their blood type, much less their triglyceride or blood glucose levels (or why those numbers are important)? Perhaps you would be shocked to know that only 50% of Americans receive regular dental exams*. Did you know that 30% of emergency room patients also report signs of untreated depression**?
President Obama has already called attention to the lack of preventive health care in the United States - the new bill covers a variety of preventive screenings and treatments in full. However, it is up to individuals to "heed the call" and start taking action to protect themselves and address preventable diseases and risk factors before they become problematic. So what do you need to know to stay safe and healthy?
For women, ask your doctor for a full checkup, TSH (thyroid) test, HIV test, blood pressure and cholesterol ("heart healthy") test, bone density screen, A1c (blood glucose) test, and mammogram.
For men, get the same sequence but replace that mammogram with a DRE (digital rectal exam), PSA (prostate specific antigen) test, testicular exam, and colonoscopy.
Don't be afraid to ask your doctor for more information on these tests and others that you might be at risk for given your family history, weight, health status, and background. It is never too soon to make a small (or free!) investment in your long-term health - inside and out. Small acts can reap great bene-fits!
As the saying goes - perhaps never truer than it is today, in an era where obesity, diabetes, and CHD rates are spiking - "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."