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Healthy Living: Tips for being proactive about your health
1. Be honest with yourself: Are you overweight, obese, or close to it?
Obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) -- a measure of height to weight -- of 30 or greater. Overweight is defined as having a BMI of 25-29.
•Eat real food: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and less processed foods; and limit the size of your meals. All portions have been “supersized” in the last 30 years. A portion is the size of your palm, not your forearm.
•Obesity also affects more than your weight: Annual earnings are usually less for obese employees, especially for women.
•Inflammation and infection following surgery is more common for obese people. The more overweight you are, the more likely you are to experience pain.
•Obesity may decrease mental abilities.
2. Find a primary care physician who emphasizes preventive care.
Find a doctor who “gets” it, someone who expects to prevent as a primary role, rather than as an afterthought. Your physician should treat helping you improve behavior as their goal too! If your doctor writes a prescription for high cholesterol, depression, or weight-control medicine within the first five minutes of seeing you, unfortunately your physician cares more about quantity of patients than quality of care. One or all of these medications may be necessary, but too many people are prescribed drugs without a proper exam.
3. Get a physical exam once a year.
Effective preventive care is proven to save lives -- why not yours? According to a University of Pittsburgh study, only 1 in 5 adults gets a preventive physical exam annually.
EHE International has found approximately 18 percent of patients are diagnosed with a significant finding at their annual exam (a finding that needs immediate attention, e.g., prostate mass, hypertension, carotid finding); of the remaining 82 percent, 85 percent have significant health risks (pre-hypertension, pre-diabetic, poor nutrition, strong family health histories of disease). Find out what is wrong and take the necessary steps to get healthy.
4. Come to your annual physical exam prepared.
Share in every decision about your health with your doctor. It’s your life -- not theirs! Be informed, engaged, and positive in your partnership with your physician. Better health is a choice we all can make with our doctor as our teammate and coach -- not our salvation! Be ready with:
•A history of your health: a complete health history is a critical cornerstone of all clinical care.
•A record of your records: You’re entitled to copies of all medical reports and diagnostic and lab test results.
•All medications and supplements you are taking.
•A detailed family history, including new conditions or diseases among family members.
•Questions for the doctor, including current concerns.
5. Take prescribed medications properly.
According to a CVS Caremark study, 1 in 4 patients prescribed medication for a new illness fail to fill their initial prescription. The more information you have about a new drug, the greater the chances you follow your doctor’s orders. If you take prescription drugs, understand what your lifestyle choices are to reduce them or replace them.
Ask your doctor the following:
•What is it supposed to do? How and when do I take the medicine? For how long?
•What are the possible side effects? What do I do if they occur?
•When should I expect the medicine to begin to work? How will I know if it is working?
6. Know your blood pressure and what it means.
Know your numbers and face the facts. Approximately 74.5 million people in the United States have high blood pressure. An EHE International study found that 80 percent of a company’s employees did not know their blood pressure. High blood pressure is a leading indicator of heart disease, stroke, congestive heart failure, and kidney disease.
The following steps will have a dramatic effect in lowering your blood pressure:
•Cut down on sodium (salt) and add more potassium to your diet.
•Stop smoking and drink less alcohol.
•Exercise more and lose weight.
7. Stay current with vaccines.
Sadly, nearly 45,000 Americans die from diseases that could have been prevented by vaccines. All adults should be immunized against tetanus and diphtheria. Depending on age and health, an individual may also need additional protection. Ask your doctor what vaccines are appropriate.
8. Begin a personal exercise program.
•Get moving; anyway, anyhow, anytime. We’re all too sedentary and it’s literally killing us. Adults should engage in a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate--intensity exercise each day. Studies have proven being physically active reduces your risk of developing two major cancers: colon and breast cancer. Exercise will also:
•Decrease the risk of developing CHD, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain forms of cancer.
•Lower blood pressure.
•Improve cholesterol levels, C--reactive protein, and other CHD indicators.
9. Limit the risks; is your lifestyle contributing to an early death?
Every choice you make can improve the duration, quality, and vitality in your life. It’s serious, and the choices you make in the next minute, hour, day, and week all matter more than you know.
Five chronic diseases --heart disease, cancers, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, and diabetes -- account for more than two-thirds of all deaths in the United States. Although chronic diseases are among the most prevalent and costly health problems, they are also among the most preventive.
To a large degree, the major chronic disease killers are an extension of what people do, or not do, as they go about the business of daily living.
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