Most Americans live well into their 70s and 80s, and we don’t just want to live longer, we want to be healthier. Well into our “golden years,” we want to be able to do the things we enjoy in our 30s and 40s.
It’s not that hard to accomplish.
We’ve all heard how important it is to eat healthy and exercise. We’ve heard of the importance of taking a multivitamin, and getting eight hours of sleep at night, but a lot of us either haven’t heard, or didn’t get, all the information on how to reach the golden years.
We all know how dangerous it is to smoke, and for smokers, it’s difficult to quit. Visit your primary care physician for help. There are many ways we can help you with your goal to quit. We use everything from patches to new medications in pill form that help to block the craving for cigarettes, vapes, pipes and/or chewing tobacco. We’ve had great success with this issue.
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Obesity affects a third of the population in the United States. It’s a health issue associated with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. It isn’t easy to lose weight, but with the help of your physician there are nutrition classes, exercise regimens and even medications to help with hunger.
We’ve all heard the saying, “Everything in moderation.” Well, it’s actually good advice. Alcohol, sugary foods, and deep fried, or high fat foods are fine in moderation. They become a problem when they are consumed frequently.
I like to remind my patients the first of the year offers the chance for a brand-new start to tackle issues in their lives, before they become a problem. Screening tests find health issues, or abnormalities, before patients show signs or symptoms — in other words before any real damage is done. They are easy and fast, and are the best way to live into our golden years.
Many people don’t know what tests they should have done, and at what age?
Between the ages of 18 and 21 years old a baseline of labs should be performed. Labs check for cholesterol issues, diabetes, abnormal kidney function, abnormal liver function, abnormal thyroid function, anemia and platelet issues. Then every year from then on, they need to have those same tests repeated. It is just a simple blood test performed once a year. High cholesterol is something that affects 35 to 40 percent of our population and is controlled with medication. If high cholesterol goes on without treatment, the patient is at risk for a heart attack and stroke.
Diabetes is another health problem that affects 35 to 40 percent of our population. It can lead to amputation of toes, feet and to blindness. It destroys kidneys and increases the risk of heart attack and stroke by 25 percent. Uncontrolled diabetes shortens the lifespan by 10 to 20 years or more. Low thyroid causes generalized hair loss, fatigue and weight gain. Anemia also causes fatigue, dizziness, fainting, shortness of breath, and increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
Kidney function and liver function are important to check, because we don’t show any symptoms until we are very sick. The human body can’t live without kidneys or without the liver. If there is a problem, hopefully we can get them functioning again. Platelets need to be checked and treated if needed, since again these medical issues don’t show signs or symptoms until there is a big problem. Too many platelets cause “clots” which can occur any place in our body, and not enough platelets can cause us to bleed without stopping.
A few extra tests are also needed throughout our lives. At age 30 we recommend a fecal test, which the patient can do at home in the privacy of their own bathroom. After a bowel movement, a sample is smeared on a special card and mailed in to a lab to test for colon cancer. At age 50, routine in-patient colonoscopy is recommended to inspect the large intestine with a special scope. If the colonoscopy is normal, then it is repeated every 10 years. Men start having an extra blood test added to their regular yearly labs at age 50, for their prostate, called a PSA test. They continue that PSA test with their regular yearly labs from then on. Women start having a mammogram at age 40, and continue having one every year.
Medical tests needed to live a long, healthy, active life don’t take much time, and patients only need to repeat them once a year. In most instances, a physician can address abnormal test results immediately before a life-threatening issue occurs. As the old saying goes: “An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure.”
Happy New Year, and make it a healthy one.
Dr. Yvette Cressey, D.O., is a board-certified family practice physician with a sub-specialty in dermatology with Saltzer Medical Group in Meridian. She holds a bachelor of science in microbiology from California State Polytechnic University. She obtained her medical degree from the Frankford Hospitals/ Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed her residency at Downey Regional Medical Center/Family Practice Residency Program in Downey, Calif. She can be reached at 208-884-2920. Saltzer Medical Group has offices in Nampa, Meridian, Caldwell and Idaho Sleep Health in Boise.