8 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR HEALTH
You can help your future health by learning how well your body is working today – and taking corrective action if necessary.
Here are eight things that are pivotal to know:
1. Your blood pressure
High blood pressure – or hypertension – is frequently symptomless but can lead to major health problems, such as kidney damage or vascular dementia in later life. It can even cause emergencies such as a stroke or heart attack. Find out your reading via the GP or a pharmacist. For adults, a normal blood pressure range is between 90/60mmHg to 120/80mmHg. If you’re outside that range, you need to take action.
2. Your cholesterol levels
High total cholesterol readings due to too much ‘bad’ cholesterol in the blood can increase the risk of heart disease and other conditions. Even if you’re otherwise healthy and have a good diet, it’s also worth knowing that high cholesterol can be hereditary. Being familiar with your reading can help you to take action to lower your levels should you need to.
3. Your family medical history
Did your grandmother have breast cancer? Did your uncle have a substance use disorder? Any knowledge is useful knowledge. This is especially true if you’re seeking a new doctor. Health care providers will likely ask if there’s a history of cancer, heart disease and mental health problems at your first appointment, so it’s best to be prepared.
4. Your BMI
Your body mass index (BMI) is a way to calculate whether you are under, over or at the right weight for your height. Being above the healthy weight range can put you at risk of health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and some cancers. Additionally, you need to measure your waist, regardless of your BMI. You should try to lose weight if your waist is larger than 94cm (for men) or 80cm (for women).
5. Your vitamin deficiencies.
You may feel fine, but your body may be in need of something. Deficiencies are no joke. For example, lack of iron could be a sign of anemia and too little vitamin D has been linked to mental health issues. Check with your doctor to make sure you’re getting the recommended amount of vitamins, ideally through your diet. If not, a supplement may be right for you.
6. Your blood type
While there are plenty of books telling you what to eat for your blood type, the jury’s still out on the actual impact of your blood type on your health. However, there are a couple of good reasons why knowing your blood type might be useful. Should you need a blood transfusion, knowing it could save time (although blood type can be determined pretty quickly) – or if you’re pregnant (as carrying a specific different type of blood to your baby can cause Rhesus disease).
7. A good doctor
Beside manner is a crucial element in finding a physician you can trust. If you’re getting bad vibes, it’s best to find someone who is a better fit for you and who will make you feel the most comfortable (after all, the whole point is to go to the doctor, not avoid one). And this isn’t just for general practitioners — the same rules apply for therapists, gynecologists, dentists, e.t.c.
8. How much sleep your body needs.
At minimum, you should be getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night, but everybody is different. And when you go to sleep also matters. Do you need to get into bed at 10 p.m. to make sure you’re asleep by 11? Whatever works for you, do it.