By Dr Steven Graaff, MD, MRCGP
How healthy are you? Health is usually most appreciated when you are ill. What do you do to make sure you are healthy? And more importantly what do you do to stay healthy…? To maintain good health is not always easy. Your doctor can actually help…
A lot of people are exposed to Medical check-ups at some stage in their lives. It gives you an idea about your state of health, for that moment in time only. What happens after that? Your numbers and results may indicate normal health, but the question is for how long? You can try to maintain good health, by carefully watching what you eat. You might decide to do regular exercise and to further improve your lifestyle. You refrain from smoking, drink alcohol in moderate amounts and find a good balance in your life between work and relaxation.
Do you have any insights in your (future) risks?
To maintain good health is a challenge. To know what your risks are, and to modify those risks is a way of contributing to your overall health. What is your risk, for instance, of getting any cardiovascular disease, one of the leading causes of death?
Cardiovascular diseases are diseases of the heart or blood vessels. Anyone over forty should ideally have his or her risk assessed. If you have a strong family history of early cardiovascular disease and if you have a first degree family member with a lipid (cholesterol) disorder you should be assessed at any age. It is best to see your doctor who will discuss with you if you have any current lifestyle risk factors that increase your risk. These include smoking, obesity, poor diet and lack of physical activity. You should have a blood test to check your blood cholesterol and glucose (sugar, to screen for possible diabetes, which is also a major risk factor). Your blood pressure should also be measured. Your doctor will take your family history, ethnicity, gender and age also into account. Together with your doctor, you can make a plan on how to reduce your risk. This could involve lifestyle modifications, drug treatment and effective management of any underlying condition, like diabetes, hypertension or high cholesterol. Moderate intensity exercise for thirty minutes, at least five days a week would be recommended. You can try to incorporate exercise into everyday life, by using stairs and to walk more.
This is just one aspect, but there is more to consider
For women, it is important to have access to screening tools for cervical cancer and breast cancer. Your doctor can help you to reduce the risk and to detect early disease by offering PAP smear screening and help you to have mammograms. Your doctor can give you information regarding cervical cancer and how to prevent it. This may include vaccination, which is most effective when started at a young age. These investigations should be done on a regular basis and your doctor can advise you best when and how often to have these screenings.
Men should consult their doctor regarding any possible prostate problem. An increase in frequency of urinating should alarm both men and women. This might be a sign of a urinary tract infection, diabetes or a prostate related issue (in case you are a male…). A good insight into this common problem for men can even be established in a simple primary care setting. Bowel problems should also be addressed as this could also justify further investigations. This may vary between simple stool tests to colonoscopies. Any change in your bowel habits that lasts for more than six weeks should be reported to your doctor. Often a simple consultation with a General Practitioner can contribute to better health. The doctor can help you assess risks, by taking your history, doing a physical examination and by conducting some blood tests.
Prevention will help…
Half of the mortality from the 10 leading causes of death can be traced to alterable behavior or lifestyle. Early detection and treatment of several common diseases reduces mortality and morbidity (breast and cervical cancer, high blood pressure).
Infectious diseases still kill. Think about vaccinations to prevent tuberculosis, influenza etc. Good primary care of the elderly reduces mortality and admissions.
The doctor can give tailored advice regarding any useful further investigation or screening tool. All this should result in a plan on how to improve and maintain your health. So my advice would be: “Discuss it with your GP!”
Dr Steven Graaff, MD, MRCGP, the founder of Good Practice is a graduate of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Before completing his formal training in General Practice, he has worked in several hospitals in the Netherlands. He also worked as a family physician in England and obtained his membership exam of the Royal College of General Practitioners in 2005. After having enjoyed an expatriate population in The Hague as a GP, he joined a major International assistance company as their medical advisor in Indonesia. As a medical professional with international experience, Steven decided to start his own clinic – Good Practice, in Jakarta.
Good Practice Clinic is a unique healthcare provider with its own pharmacy and comprehensive laboratory. Its consistent, professional and all English speaking team provides care according to International guidelines. www.goodpractice.co.id