In the world we live in today, where we could get so carried away with the essential activities that are geared at meeting our daily needs, many often forget that health is one of the basic needs of man. No wonder Thomas Fuller noted that “health is not valued until sickness comes”. In the same vein, the World Health Organization once noted that “Good health allows children to learn and adults to earn, helps people escape from poverty and provides the basis for long-term economic development”. This truly corroborates the popular saying which states that: “health is wealth”. I guess you must have completed the last quote before reading it to the extreme, but how well are you attending to your health? Yes! When last did you go for a lab check-up? One of the often neglected aspects of maintaining a good health is having a routine laboratory check-up. This is why Havana Hospital has brought you this timely article, detailing some essential reasons why you need a laboratory check-up today. Read to see where this applies to you, and act wisely!
1. Blood count: An understanding of your blood level (packed cell volume) and all other vital parameters related to the blood such as haemoglobin level, white cell count, platelets count is important in many ways – to know whether your blood level is above normal (polycythemia) or below (anaemia), whether your immune system is being compromised, or has already been compromised, and to know what to do about it.
2. Blood group and Genotype: It will shock you to know that not everyone knows their blood group and genotype, and many often confuse the two. Not sure of yours? Rush to the laboratory today to confirm. Prior knowledge of one’s genotype is necessary for making decisions related to marriage – for assessment of compatibility with one’s intending partner, and blood group is especially important for taking necessary medications and precautions during child bearing. The major reason why blood group test is done for pregnant women is to understand their Rhesus (Rh) factor – which is either positive or negative. Since more people often tend to be Rh positive than Rh negative, it is highly probable that an Rh-negative mother could be carrying an Rh positive baby, thereby creating the risk for haemolytic disease of the new-born (HDN) in future pregnancies, essentially destroying that baby’s red blood cells.
3. Antenatal (For pregnant women): Are you an expectant mother. Then undergoing some series of laboratory screening is essential for your health and that of your unborn baby, and also for your safe delivery. There is need to monitor your blood level (haemoglobin and packed cell volume), and sugar levels, as well as knowing your blood group and ensuring that you see your doctor for administration of necessary drugs, if you’re rhesus negative.
Blood group as explained above is one of the essential components of the antenatal screening. If the antenatal process reveals that a pregnant woman is Rh negative, she will receive a RhoGAM injection, which protects her immune system from being exposed to the baby’s Rh-positive blood. Failure to detect that an expectant mother is Rh Negative, and subsequent failure to receive the injection, will lead to production of antibodies by the mother’s body that could attack the positive red blood cells of babies in subsequent pregnancies, which will cause HDN. HDN can cause serious illnesses, brain damage or even death in a fetus or newborn. To this wise, you are implored to advice everyone you know who is pregnant to go for necessary antenatal check-ups.
4. Examining biochemical indicators of organs’ functionality: It is important to regularly check the levels of essential biomarkers such as alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), cardiac troponin I (TNI), urea, creatinine, etc. of the liver, kidney, and heart function, and for that of many other organs from time to time. Since the heart, liver and kidneys are involved in most of the body’s systems and functionalities, they could be described as windows to the body’s functionality. Routine examination of these vital organs therefore, can give an overall picture of what is going on in the body. Altered levels of the biochemical indicators of the functionality of these organs (ALT, AST, urea etc.) might be a pointer to an array of conditions such as infection, inflammation, alcoholism, toxic chemicals or medicines, drugs of abuse, occupational hazards, diabetes, metabolic diseases, and high blood pressure.
5. Understanding the levels of blood metabolites; In light of the alarming rate at which global epidemic of diabetes and other related metabolic syndromes is growing today, monitoring blood metabolites for detecting early-stage metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and coronary artery disease is extremely consequential. If you don’t presently know your health status with respect to your sugar and cholesterol intake and metabolism, don’t hesitate to go for a glucose test and/or fasting lipid profile today.
6. Controlling weight and BMI: Certain laboratory tests are important when watching weight and body mass index (BMI) – ratio of body-weight to height; an indicator of obesity. A lipid profile tests helps essentially in monitoring body lipids such as cholesterol and triglycerides from time to time. More so, it has been found that cortisol, which is one of the major hormones released during stress conditions not only leads to storage of body fat but also increases peoples affinity for food and encourages hunger pangs for fatty or sugary foods. Since hormones that are released under stressful situations (stress hormones) could lead to weight gain and obesity, monitoring their levels is essential controlling one’s weight. You can request a cortisol blood test today, if you are looking to shed weight.
7. Reproductive Health Assessment; Knowing the level of essential hormones: Keeping a close track of essential hormone levels such as testosterone and oestrogen is very important to maintaining a good reproductive health. Reproductive health concerns like erectile dysfunction, infertility, poor libido, etc. can all stem from low levels of important sex hormones. This problem can only be diagnosed, prevented or treated through a blood test.
8. Maintaining Necessary balance of essential vitamins and understanding how they affect your health: Blood testing allows you to always know whether your body’s vitamin and mineral are being maintained within optimal ranges. Micronutrients play an important role in our health and well-being, and deficiencies in important minerals such as magnesium can result in body odour, constipation, muscle cramps, insomnia, headaches, fatigue, and many other adverse health effects that may be harder to treat and manage than it is to go for a lab test today!
9. Understanding your body needs, and what to stay away from: The physical and psychological features and environment of every one of us is highly unique, and so is our health different from that of everybody else. Therefore, your health program should be made in such a way that it is fully customized to suit your needs. By undergoing routine laboratory tests, you can get the exact numbers that will help you plan your treatment, diet, and precautions appropriately. In fact, research shows that; regular blood examination plays a key role in maintaining your overall health and fitness, just like diet and exercise. Is living a long and healthy life of importance to you? I know it is. Then, take your blood tests seriously. Consider going for one today, if you can’t remember when last you did so.
10. For an understanding of your progressive health with time: Even if you live a healthy lifestyle, it is important to note that your body changes with time. Therefore, assessing the progress of your health over time helps to you aware of risk factors for some of the leading causes of death, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes or even cancer. There are certain tests that are recommended at certain for certain ages, because the proneness of humans to certain diseases increases with age. Prostate Specific Antigen, for instance, is a biochemical marker that is assessed for men above 40 years of age to know their risk of coming up with prostate cancer. In the same vein, pap smear cytology is often recommended for women aged 21 to 65, to assess their risk of cervical cancer.