אתה משתמש בגרסה ישנה יותר של הדפדפן. לחווית MSN הטובה ביותר, השתמש ב-גרסה נתמכת.

Assess your Health and Lifestyle - Check your Physical Health

סמל של DK PublishingDK Publishing 02/07/2014 DKBooks
Photo: Family traits - To help you assess your risks of developing certain diseases, it is useful to look at your family medical history. © Provided by DKBooks Family traits - To help you assess your risks of developing certain diseases, it is useful to look at your family medical history.

Blood pressure - Persistently high blood-pressure levels are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, so regular checks are essential.

Photo: Blood pressure - Persistently high blood-pressure levels are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, so regular checks are essential. © Provided by DKBooks Blood pressure - Persistently high blood-pressure levels are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, so regular checks are essential.

Family traits - To help you assess your risks of developing certain diseases, it is useful to look at your family medical history.

Check your Physical Health

Understanding your own health status helps you take control.

Once you begin to understand your health status in the context of both your lifestyle behaviors and your medical history, you will be in the best possible position to work with your doctor and dietitian to take charge of your health. Being able to understand why changes in diet and exercise will improve your health, longevity, and mental well-being will make it easier for you to achieve any changes necessary.


Get a checkup

As part of the assessment of your current physical health, you may visit your doctor for a checkup. Many of the exams that he or she carries out, such as measuring weight, height, pulse, and blood pressure, relate to your risk of developing cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of death in North America.

Some of the risks, such as your age, gender, and family history, cannot be altered , but other risk factors can be modified by making changes to your diet and lifestyle. If you are in a high-risk category for cardiovascular disease because of nonmodifiable risk factors, then it is vital that you tackle the areas where changes are possible to improve your overall health and long-term wellness.


Look at your family

You should consider your family medical history to become aware of the medical conditions from which your parents, grandparents, and other blood relatives suffered. This will provide you with an opportunity to identify potential health issues in your own life and to take the appropriate action to modify your risks of developing those conditions yourself.

The risks of asthma, diabetes, migraines, and cardiovascular disease, for example, high blood pressure, tend to run in families or have a genetic component.

If you are reading this guide because you currently suffer from a health problem, there is much that you can do yourself to control and improve matters with diet and lifestyle changes. This is covered in detail in the chapter Food as Medicine. It is a good idea to discuss any changes you wish to make with your doctor or a registered dietitian.


Risk factors for cardiovascular disease

Many factors are known to increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease; some you cannot control, others you can.


Nonmodifiable high risk factors

Factors such as age, gender, and family history, are predetermined, but you can reduce their impact with nutrition and exercise:

Age: men over the age of 45 and women over the age of 55.

Gender: cardiovascular disease is more common in men than in premenopausal women.

Heredity: the risk of heart attack is greater if there is a family history of cardiovascular disease before 60.


Modifiable high risk factors

You can change the following by adopting a healthier lifestyle:

High cholesterol or LDL level

Current cigarette smoking

High blood pressure

Diabetes

Overweight or obesity

Physical inactivity


Having a medical checkup

When you visit your doctor for a medical checkup, he or she will take a number of measurements all of which will help assess your current state of health. These could include taking your temperature and pulse, listening to your heart and lungs with a stethoscope, measuring your blood pressure, and checking your weight and height.

Depending on your personal and family medical history, your doctor may also take a blood sample that will be tested in the laboratory for specific conditions .


Checking your pulse

Pulse is a measure of heart rate and can be felt where an artery (a blood vessel carrying blood away from the heart) runs close to the skin. In adults, the pulse rate is usually felt at the wrist.

A low resting pulse rate is a good indicator of physical fitness: the stronger your heart, the less frequently it needs to pump to provide oxygen to your tissues. Babies have a high pulse rate but, as we age, the pulse rate decreases. The normal pulse rate for adults is 60–80 beats per minute. Know your figures, and how these compare to others of your age and gender.


Measuring blood pressure

This is a measure of the pressure of the blood in your arteries as your heart pumps. The value depends on the strength of your heart muscle, the elasticity of the arterial walls, and the volume and viscosity of your blood. The blood pressure of a healthy young adult should be no more than 120/80mmHg. High blood pressure is diagnosed when the reading taken is persistently higher than 140/90mmHg.


Lifestyle changes

If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, make lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, increasing the amount of exercise you take, and limiting your use of salt and alcohol . If these are not enough to normalize your blood pressure, your doctor may prescribe medication, since high blood pressure is a risk factor for other cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attack.


Blood tests and health

Depending on the reason for your medical checkup, the symptoms that you have described, or your family medical history, your doctor may take a blood sample to be sent for laboratory testing. These tests help to assess your health and diagnose certain diseases.


Cholesterol

A waxy substance in the blood that is necessary for the normal functioning of the body . Excess amounts of cholesterol can form deposits on the inside of blood vessels, leading to narrowing of the arteries and cardiovascular disease.

An elevated blood cholesterol level (more than 200mg/dL) may be hereditary and/or due to a diet that is high in saturated fat. For information on how to lower your blood cholesterol, see Reducing total cholesterol, LDL, and triglyceride levels.


Low density lipoprotein (LDL)

Often called the “bad” cholesterol, LDL carries cholesterol from the liver to tissues. Levels more than 130mg/dL are linked with increased risk of cardiovascular disease.


High density lipoprotein (HDL)

Carries cholesterol from the tissues back to the liver. It is often referred to as the “good cholesterol,” since high levels (more than 60mg/dL) are associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.


Triglycerides

Fatty substances in the blood that are absorbed from the diet or synthesized from excess calories. High triglyceride levels (more than 150mg/dL) may be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Eating fish regularly can help to reduce levels.


Glucose

The predominant sugar in the blood and may be measured at different times during the day—for example, first thing in the morning, before eating, or two hours after meals. Interpreting the results depends on when the glucose was measured. Raised levels (more than 126mg/dL) indicate diabetes.


Hemoglobin

The protein in red blood cells that carries iron. Anemia occurs when hemoglobin levels are lower than 13.5g/dL for men or 12g/dL for women .


Hematocrit

The measure of the volume percentage of red blood cells in whole blood. Levels lower than 41 percent for men and 36 percent for women indicate anemia. Eat foods rich in iron to boost hematocrit.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon