A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article about making sure your doctor tests you for something called CRP or Cross-Reactive Protein as a marker for system-wide inflammation.
That article got a lot of emails (good ones J) from people who were not really familiar with that test and what it meant.
This week, I thought I would address some more general numbers you REALLY need to pay attention to.
Again – please note – I am NOT a doctor, and this article in NO WAY should be treated as medical advice!
I have a pretty reasonable amount of expertise in this area, and do more than my share of reading and research, so here goes…
Things I REALLY keep an eye on for my numbers:
1) Blood Pressure. If there is one thing that can do some REAL damage and have the most serious implications, blood pressure is it!
While many of us were raised with “normal” being 120/80, this is now considered high-normal by the medical community. Know this number!
Getting this under control is vital and may require medication to do so.
What can you do for your part?
- Regular exercise – particularly cardio-vascular based exercise
- Minimal or no alcohol intake
- Maintain low body fat
- Reduce stress levels in any way possible!
- Consistent practice of meditation has been proven to reduce BP over time!
2) Triglycerides: Elevated triglycerides levels are proving to be just as important as cholesterol levels, when it comes to heart health. I am NOT saying cholesterol is not important…to some people, but it is not the be-all, end-all.
Doctors and patients have been told for decades that cholesterol is THE boogeyman of health. This is proving not to be the case. While you should know your cholesterol level, there are other levels you need to be aware of as well.
Testing for triglycerides is a normal part of what’s referred to as a ‘lipid panel’.
NOTE: Fifty percent of people admitted to the hospital for heart attacks had perfectly normal cholesterol levels.
The following is from an article by the Mayo Clinic:
“High triglycerides may contribute to hardening of the arteries or thickening of the artery walls (arteriosclerosis) — which increases the risk of stroke, heart attack and heart disease. Extremely high triglycerides can also cause acute inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis).
High triglycerides are often a sign of other conditions that increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, including obesity and metabolic syndrome…”
3) Blood sugar: You need to know your blood sugar levels. The only accurate way to test this is through a FASTING blood sugar test. This test is fairly routine, so you shouldn’t have to ask for it by name.
But, PLEASE make sure you keep an eye on this number.
4) Colon Cancer Screening: EVERYONE over age 50 should have this done!
“Oh I don’t want to…the prep thing is horrible!”
Get over it.
Just do it. It’s not as bad as all that, and the downside is FAR worse!
Colon cancer often has no symptoms, until it’s too late.
JUST DO IT!
By the way, if you have risk factors in your family, you may need to get this done earlier and more often.
5) **Specialty Test** If your family origin is from northwestern Europe (Ireland, Scotland, Wales, UK) you should pay attention to your iron levels to be aware of something called Hemochromatosis.
This is the #1 most common hereditary disease in the world…that no one knows about.
Check your Ferritin levels.
Again, this is pretty common test and – believe it or not – the only treatment is drawing a pint of blood, sometimes on a monthly basis until these iron/ferritin levels come back into normal ranges.
Left untreated, excess iron can damage all the major organs of the body! Who knows how many people through history have suffered and died from this, without ever knowing the cause…
Of course, there are plenty of other tests we need to check on that are generally part of a normal, annual checkup, but the ones above represent a small, but important sample of how we all need to know our own numbers.