Meet Ashok, a 28-year-old entrepreneur from South Mumbai. His career goal is to develop his start-up business into a profitable establishment. He prioritizes his professional life over his health. His schedule includes pressing deadlines, long, stressful work hours in confined spaces with digital technology, and limited outdoor exposure and physical activity.
His meal timings are erratic; sometimes, he skips meals or eats calorie-dense meals at odd hours in the day. He also consumes energy drinks and, occasionally, alcohol. His routine has disrupted his sleep-wake cycle.
Gradually, Ashok starts to notice that he frequently feels thirsty. He also feels a general sense of fatigue. He dismisses it as a sign of dehydration and continues to drink water often. However, his thirst remains unquenched. His fatigue also persists.
Ashok feels worried. He decides to go for a health screening. The assessment indicates that he has prediabetes. Ashok’s first thought is, ‘Why didn’t I go for a preventive health check earlier?’.
Why is a preventive health check essential and beneficial?
A preventive health check provides an insight into one’s health status. Family history and genetics, compounded with personal history, stress (including pressing deadlines and competitiveness), sedentary lifestyle, erratic and unhealthy dietary habits, disturbed sleep-wake cycles, and environmental hazards, can trigger or act as a catalyst for various chronic diseases.
A proactive, regular, timely, preventive health screening helps you gain control over your health by:
- Identifying early warning signs and symptoms, predicting risk for the onset of various latent chronic disease conditions, and implementing personalized management strategies
- Monitoring disease progression and reducing the risk of complications (both from the disease and treatment)
- Reducing morbidity and disability and lowering your treatment expenditure in the long term.
- Helping you envision health goals for the future by:
- Motivating you to make healthy lifestyle and diet choices, including regular exercise and maintaining a physiological sleep-wake cycle
- Avoiding unnecessary stress, rumination, and anxiety about factors beyond control
- Prioritizing mental wellness and staying happy, mindful, and grateful
Which screening tests should you consider?
Preventive health check assessments include:
- A comprehensive panel of diagnostic tests which evaluate general health, routine biochemical parameters, and tests for specific organ function
- Imaging tests
- Physician consultations and diet and lifestyle counseling based on the results of the screening
You should opt for preventive health check assessments that are personalized for you based on your age (whether you are above or below 30 years, above or below 40 years, above or below 50 years), gender, lifestyle, family history, and other clinical conditions parameters. The panel of tests should be able to predict any health risks, including the onset of chronic medical conditions, and facilitate timely targeted intervention.
- screening tests for cancer detection in women include imaging tests such as an ultrasound or mammography and diagnostic tests such as the Pap Test, which enables a clinician to examine cervical cells for any cancerous changes or abnormalities.
- Men who smoke, for example,will need to undergo a series of tests to assess if they have any underlying diseases linked to smoking, such as chronic lung or heart disease.Cancer screenings that guidelines recommend for men include lung, prostate, colorectal, testicular, and skin.
- Women over 60 and men over 65 should have an osteoporosis screening test, which involves a particular type of X-ray called dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA). DEXA can measure bone strength, detect osteoporosis and help predict fracture risk.
- For children, preventive health check would include advice and guidance on a diet, immunization (against whooping cough, measles, chickenpox, polio, and other diseases), and developmental and behavioural milestones.
There are miscellaneous screening assessment programs available for everyone. You should choose one tailored towards you based on your gender, age, medical and family history, and lifestyle.
Regular health checkup: KEY TAKEAWAY
If Ashok didn’t take the step to go for a preventive health check, he would never have realized he was pre-diabetic. He would only learn about his condition after it had progressed to full-blown diabetes when interventional outcomes may have been delayed or not fruitful.
Timely and regular preventive health check is essential in detecting or identifying risk for infectious or non-infectious underlying disorders and targeting them before they progress. Combining preventative health screening evaluations with an active lifestyle, balanced and nutritious diet, substance abuse and alcoholism avoidance, sleep hygiene, and stress management puts the reins of control over our health in our own hands.
By investing approximately 2 hours for a preventive health check once a year, you can add extra years to your life!