The incidence of non-communicable diseases has been on the rise and Africa bears a disproportionate burden of this increase. Cardiovascular diseases and diabetes mellitus accounts for 48 per cent and 3.5 per cent respectively, of the 38 million deaths due to NCDs. In Nigeria, one in every five adults die prematurely between the ages of 30 and 70 due to NCDs like cardiovascular diseases and diabetes mellitus. In a study by Beatrice Ohunene Bello-Ovosi et al, published in the Pan African Medical Journal, there has been numerous undiagnosed people with Diabetes and hypertension. This was attributed to lack of routine health checks.
Medical or health screening is an important part of disease prevention. Screening involves testing or checking for conditions in their early stages, before symptoms have developed, to help improve outcomes. This means regular health examinations and tests can help find problems before they start. They also can help find problems early, when the chances for treatment and cure are better. The examinations and screening needed depends on the age, health and family history, and lifestyle choices such as what one eats, how active one is, and whether one smokes. To make the most of the next check-up, here are some things to do before going for the check-up: Review your family medical history, find out if you are due for any general screenings or vaccinations, write down a list of issues and questions to take with you.
The recommendations below generally refer to screening for the general population. The recommendations may be different for people with specific risk factors for a particular disease. Talk to a doctor about health checks that you should have and when to have them. Preventive healthcare is one of the key roles of a doctor, so they will be only too happy to help you. Testing for high blood pressure can save lives but unnecessary tests, such as whole body scans, may just find problems that probably don’t need treatment. So what should you be tested for?
Most health checks are designed to look for risk factors or early signs of diseases – the two most common being heart disease or cancer. A quarter of premature deaths are caused by cardiovascular disease (heart attacks and strokes) and an estimated 50-80 per cent of them are preventable as earlier stated. So any checks that could help early detection are surely a good thing.
Health check should be done for every two to five years to everyone aged between 40 and 74 to pick up early signs of stroke risk, diabetes, dementia, and heart and kidney disease. The alternative would be to do nothing but it may lead to an epidemic of preventable ill health, such as Cancers, hypertension and diabetes.
The risk factors that commonly available checks are trying to identify are high blood pressure, Diabete Mellituis, poor diet, high cholesterol, obesity, smoking, alcohol and drugs, poor kidney functions. There are national screening programmes for early detection of cervical, breast and bowel cancer, as well as stroke screening. Others are skin checks; or advice on self-checks, such as breast or testicular self-examination. In fact, men are often offere¬d a blood test to detect prostate problems as part of a health check and are told that it can be an indicator of cancer.
Recommended health checks
It’s a good idea to see your doctor for a regular health check even if you are currently feeling fit and healthy. Regular health checks and screening tests can help you to stay healthy by: finding health problems at an early stage before they develop into more serious chronic conditions, helping to prevent and detect serious illness like cancer. If you have a family history of a certain disease or other risk factors, regular health checks and screening tests are much more important. Recommended regular health tests include: blood pressure, blood levels, cholesterol levels, blood glucose, skin checks.
Screening tests specicific for women include: bowel screening, breast screening, pap smear, bone density scan. Screening tests also recommended for men include: Bowel screening and prostate cancer test.
Recommended Healthy Lifestyle
Here are some recommended healthy tips for healthy living
1. Be aware of the medical history in your family and talk to your healthcare professional about it.
2. Make your health a priority!
3. Manage your weight
4. Reduce your waistline
5. Eat a balanced diet with plenty of whole unprocessed foods, rich in fruit and vegetables.
6. Commit to moderate exercise for 150 minutes per week or 75 minutes if it’s vigorous exercise.
7. Reduce sitting time throughout the day.
8. Manage your stress levels.
9. Don’t smoke, or Quit.
10. Quit or reduce Alcohol intake.
11. Avoid sedentary lifestyle.
12. Have adequate water intake at least 3 litres per day.
13. Good personal hygiene.
14. Avoid self medications.
By The Punch