The issue of healthcare ranks a top most priority lists in the modern society. Regardless of personal agendas or global initiatives, the pursuit of a healthier lifestyle is clearly evident. Even the United States Presidential candidates have cited improved healthcare as one of their campaign objectives.
Nonetheless, individuals like us play a fundamental role towards the state of our own personal health.
Most of us adopt a flawed approach in maintaining our health condition. We prescribe to the treatment strategy and only seek help when we display symptoms of illnesses or diseases. Rather than relying on this method, we should adjust our mindset and abide by the prevention strategy instead. With the extensive list of detrimental factors that can affect health conditions, it is essential to be proactive and always be on guard against the possibility of infections and viruses.
There are many preventive measures that we can use to improve our health status. The most dominant method is through a healthy diet. Many scientists and health experts have conducted specific clinical trials to highlight the benefits of a healthy diet and advocate the advantageous of various foods. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) summarizes the general benefits of a healthy diet:
- Maintains adequate cholesterol levels
- Prevent high blood pressure
- Reduce risk of chronic diseases, such as cancer and diabetes
- Treat obesity
- Help correct iron deficiency
Blood tests provide another alternative measure that we can use to help identify any possible health issues. Blood is the main component that makes our body function regularly. Primarily, it provides the necessary nutrients and essential substances, such as sugar and oxygen, to different parts of the body. Blood functions as a form of discharge system that channels away harmful or useless elements and flushes them out of the body in the form of perspiration, urine, and feces.
Due to the fact that blood flows through almost every part of our body, it is able to detect any signs of infection before it develops into more serious illnesses and diseases. Not only does blood tests help to detect any underlying health issues, it also provides an accurate overview of our current health condition.
Generally, doctors recommend that blood tests be done at least once a year. For people who are more susceptible and vulnerable to viruses, they are advised to have their blood tested more regularly. By providing a blood sample, doctors are able to carry out comprehensive tests to identify any abnormality in our body. Listed below are some of the tests used to evaluate our blood quality.
Complete Blood Count (CBC)
The complete blood count (CBC) test gives a quick overview of our health condition with diagnostic details regarding the functionality of our cardiovascular, kidney, blood cell and liver systems.
A complete blood count analysis provides important information in relation to blood platelets, white blood cells and red blood cells. It measures the quantity, variety, quality and concentration of each of these components to determine if any deficiencies are present. It can effectively screen for any blood anomaly, anemias and infections.
Fibrinogen is a vital contributor in the blood clotting process. The level of fibrinogen can also be used to determine the probability of heart issues and stroke. A study published in 2005 validated this theory. Conducted by the Department of Surgery, University of Hong Kong Medical Centre, Hong Kong, the researchers discovered that higher levels of fibrinogen increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke. In more severe cases, it might result in death.
A significant breakthrough was made by the National Institute of Health, Washington DC, USA recently. Clinical researchers were able to highlight a common marker, DNA Methylation, in blood samples that can be used to detect early stages of cancer in the lungs, colon, stomach, breasts and womb.
DNA Methylation basically controls the expression of genes and with higher content of this marker, gene activity decreases. The research was able to narrow down higher levels of DNA Methylation in the specific gene, ZNF154. The effect of this research means that doctors are able to help diagnose their patients more accurately for any risk of these cancers simply by testing for elevated levels of DNA
More importantly, given that the risk factors for breast cancer is much more prevalent in modern society, the woman population would certainly welcome such a breakthrough. Statistics show that more than 1.6 million new cases of breast cancer were diagnosed in 2015 and it is also responsible for approximately 600,000 deaths.
Another worrying issue for women is the risk of contracting ovarian cancer. An estimated 21,290 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2015 alone, and death occurs in more than 14,000 of these cases. Symptoms of ovarian cancer can present itself in general forms of weight loss, constipation, frequent urge to urinate and pelvic discomfort. These signs are not definitive and can also indicate the onset of other diseases.
Fortunately, people who suspect that they are suffering from ovarian cancer can undergo the CA-125 blood test. The CA-125 compound is a protein in our blood and women with ovarian cancer display a higher content of CA-125 in their blood. By testing for this specific marker in the blood, doctors are able to diagnose the symptoms of ovarian cancer more accurately and determine the suitable course of treatment.
With the increased scrutiny on personal healthcare, the need to maintain a healthy lifestyle is more urgent than ever. While most of us have prescribed to a healthier dietary plan, other methods to improve health condition should not be discounted.
One such alternative is the simple procedure of blood testing. Doctors are able to accurately diagnose the overall health condition of their patients just by drawing a sample of blood. For some of us who suspect that we are more vulnerable to cancers, we can also ask our doctors to test for specific markers, such as the DNA Methylation and CA-125, in our blood.
Generally, doctors recommend having blood tests once a year. For those of us who are more susceptible to diseases, a more regular testing period is advised.