Hey Tough Guy! Are You Avoiding the Doctor? You May Want to Rethink That Plan!

There just aren’t enough hours in a day! You’ll make that doctor’s appointment another day, right? Especially because nothing hurts and you have no pain, aches, bumps, or bruises? Think again! It is all too common for men to skip their annual visits to their doctors, which could be a big step in the wrong direction. Although we all like to believe that since we feel fine there must be nothing wrong, there are far too many health risks and potential diseases for men to ignore their doctors, and their health altogether. June is Men’s Health Month and we encourage all men to take precautions and check up on your health! Preventative medical tests can detect diseases early, before they start to cause the aches and pains that would send someone to the doctor immediately. Here are some recommendations for screening tests and lifestyle adjustements to consider so that you can take control of your health now and prevent illness later: Check your cholesterol levels regularly, especially after the age of 20. Having high cholesterol puts men at a greater risk for heart disease and should be checked every five years, or more often if your cholesterol is high. Keep a close eye on your body weight, activity level and diet, as these lifestyle choices have a direct effect on cholesterol levels. Consider taking the Fasting Plasma Glucose Test to screen for type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes. If you are experiencing increased thirst and frequent urination, as well as weight loss and increased hunger, you may be experiencing diabetes symptoms. As with many other diseases, warning signs are not...

Individual Healthcare Mandate: What Do You Really Need?

The individual healthcare mandate deadline is coming up: Everyone must have healthcare, either through their company, through a government program like medicare or medicaid or through an individual plan by January 1, 2014.  Those scofflaws that don’t want to ante up and purchase health insurance will end up paying a tax penalty.  Is this good for people who are young and healthy or not?  What about you?  Do you really need health insurance or would it be cheaper to just pay the penalty? Many feel that the young and healthy, who have the least to gain from mandatory health insurance may just skip the whole thing and pay their tax penalty.  Over time, this may not be the right option, but for now, if you fit in the “young and healthy” category, what do you really need to do to watch your health and catch big health issues?  Forbes put out a list of the top ten medical tests you need.  If you opt out of mandatory health insurance or are deciding to go for catastrophic care which provides only minimal visits per year and carries high deductibles, here are some tests you’ll need  to try to squeeze into your healthcare budget: Blood pressure screening – Home blood pressure cuffs are readily available so you can track this yourself. C-reactive protein test –  This protein can indicate the level of inflammation in the body and has been recognized as a useful adjunct to traditional cardiovascular tests like cholesterol and blood pressure. Colonoscopy – Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in men and women so screenings beginning at...

Autoimmunity and Salt: Are You Low Sodium Yet?

Have you adjusted your diet to a low sodium version yet?  If not, you have another reason to do it as soon as possible.  High salt foods have been shown to raise blood pressure, increase the risk of edema (swelling) and numerous other health problems due to the retention of water caused by excess salt.  With the right amount of salt we are able to hold onto just enough water for our bodies to funcgtion properly and electrolytes to move to the body parts where they do the most good.  Reducing your salt intake is important for many reasons: a lower sodium intake has been associated with other health benefits, including a reduced risk of dying from a stroke, reversal of heart enlargement, and a reduced risk of kidney stones and osteoporosis. If the risk of cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure isn’t enough to scare you into skipping those super salty fries and salty snacks like chips, maybe a new study linking high salt intake to autoimmune disorders such as type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis would make a difference.  The specifics of how they are linked has to do with high levels of salt that produce higher levels of  TH17 cells in your body.  These cells produce an inflammatory protein: interleukin-17.  I have recent experience with an autoimmune disease, hyperthyroidism or Graves Disease.  Antibodies are produced that cause the thyroid to become overactive, producing excessive levels of thyroid hormone.  Could this be caused by excess salt?  It is certainly possible and makes me want to look at my overall sodium intake.  Now I’m in a position of needing to take replacment thyroid hormone for the rest of my life because my body...

Do You Know the ABCs of Heart Disease?

Today is the 10th “National Wear Red Day” to promote heart health and awareness of heart disease risks and prevention.  Did you put on something red this morning?  Are you aware of your own risks or are you planning to think about it “one day” when you have time?  Ignoring warning signs and risk factors won’t pay off in the end, so today is a good day to do a few simple things.  You don’t have to do it all today, or this week, but each little step gets you closer to a healthier, longer life. The Million Hearts Initiative, launched by the Department of Health and Human Services has a very quick way to check your risks and help you pick one or two goals that will help you focus on what’s important rather than a huge list of changes.  The ABCs of heart health are something you should think about every day to keep you on the right track and focused on your heart.  Start with a visit to get your blood pressure and cholesterol checked so you have a starting point and then get going with these easy steps: A: Appropriate Aspirin Therapy for those who need it B: Blood Pressure Control C: Cholesterol Management S: Smoking Cessation Think about these when you start the day, when you talk to your health care provider or get your blood pressure and cholesterol checked and at any point that you know you can make a difference.  Or pick one and focus on that first to get started.  Taking care of your health isn’t rocket science, but it does take some attention to detail: Your...

Heart Health Needs to Come First!

It’s hard not to notice all the pink around us right now…from scarfs and umbrellas to NFL socks and neon pink shoes.  For many people who have been personally touched by cancer and specifically, breast cancer, these signs of support for the search for a cure are deeply meaningful.  Unfortunately, for others who haven’t been affected the pink has become overwhelming.  Are you aware that more women die of heart disease than all types of cancer combined?  For those who are at a high risk of breast cancer either through genetics (mothers, aunts and sisters who have had it) or through lifestyle (obesity, smoking, lack of exercise) getting mammograms, self exams and possibly CA-125 tests can be critical. For the rest of us, after we’ve taken the basic preventive steps and tests, there is all the rest of our lifestyle and genetics to look at.  How many of us have had grandparents, parents and siblings with heart disease and are on statins to lower cholesterol?  I have it coming at me from both sides of my family.  Have you taken the first important step to have your cholesterol and blood pressure checked?  Do you try to eat healthy or have you given up because losing weight and taking a walk is just too hard?  If it matters to you, go ahead, wear pink.  But do it while you’re having a salad or going to the gym or out for a walk.  In the long run, this will save many more lives. Written by www.labtestingnow.com...