With the increasing number of diseases affecting humans now, consistent monitoring of health becomes a very critical need. More so, with the current lifestyle, environment, diet, etc. people are more prone to contacting health problems than ever before. Also, as with age, the chances of falling sick become all the higher; hence regular health check-ups become an essential thing to do for all people – above the age of 30, irrespective of gender or social class.
A regular health check-up is important for multiple reasons such as:
- To assess the current health condition
- To analyse any signs of emerging problems
- To assess risk factors causing current or potential health problems
- To motivate self to follow a healthy lifestyle
- To get vaccinated for preventable diseases
Moreover, factors such as alcohol, smoking, exposure to radiation, drugs, lack of exercise, increase the likelihood of health problems, though most of which can be easily prevented if detected timely. This is possible through regular health check-ups.
Some of the common tests required in common health check-ups are:
- Complete Blood Count (CBC): A very important blood test that analyses several important factors such as:
- Red blood cells – that carry oxygen
- White blood cells – that help fight infection
- Hematocrit – the proportion of red blood cells as compared to the fluid in the blood
- Platelets – that help with blood clotting
A CBC test is useful to detect conditions such as anaemia, infection, leukaemia, and other types of cancer. This is more important for women in India who have a record of iron deficiency. If the test reports are normal, a CBC test can be conducted another year.
- Blood Pressure: A test of the blood pressures analyses the pressure in the arteries as the heart pumps blood. A blood pressure test reading below 120/80 is ideal. Any fluctuations can indicate a low or high blood pressure; consistent fluctuations would imply a blood pressure problem and may require attentive medical care and lifestyle adjustments.
- Blood Sugar: This test is done to know the level of sugar or glucose in the blood. A blood sugar test reading of <99 is considered normal; a reading of 100 or 110 indicates pre-diabetes while a reading of more than 110 indicated diabetes. The test is conducted after a fasting period of 12 hours.
- Lipid Profile: A lipid profile test includes a combination of tests to assess initial abnormalities in lipids including cholesterol and triglycerides. The test measures the level of specific lipids in the blood, which is useful to know the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. If the results of the tests indicate negative variations, a follow-up test – post medications and lifestyle adjustments to lower cholesterol and related factors – will be done. If the values are within the normal range, the test may be conducted post 6 months or a year, per wish.
- Electrocardiogram (ECG): A test to measure the electrical activity of the heart to assess its functioning. An ECG records the rhythm and activity of the heart on a moving paper strip or a line on a screen. This test is recommended to people above the age of 35 years; however, if any symptoms indicate a problem in heart functioning, an ECG test is the prime sought to detect abnormalities and the risk of heart disease.
- Liver Function: Liver function tests also known as hepatic panel tests include a blood test to detect the state of the liver in a person and problems such as alcohol-induced liver damage, fatty liver, liver infection, and Hepatitis C and Hepatitis B. These include:
- Prothrombin time (PT/INR)
- Bilirubin (direct and indirect)
- Urinalysis: Urinalysis is a combination of physical, chemical and microscopic tests that detects components in urine including glucose, protein, bilirubin, red blood cells, white blood cells, crystals, bacteria, and more. A normal level of these components indicates a healthy functioning body; whereas a variation from normal range indicates that their body is eliminated excess through urine or there is a kidney problem or presence of a urinary tract infection. Several other diagnoses can be made depending on the symptoms of the patients if any.
- Kidney Function: The functioning of the kidney can be assessed via GFR – Glomerular filtration rate that is calculated based on several tests such as Urinalysis, Serum creatinine test and Blood urea nitrogen (BUN). These help to calculate the effectiveness of the kidneys in filtering waste from the body. The value is determined in relation to factors such as age, gender, race, height and weight.
- Thyroid Function: Thyroid function effectiveness is detected by a series of blood tests including T3, T3RU, T4 and TSH. A variation in findings from the normal level may indicate an overactive or underactive thyroid. In case, the findings are normal, the test can be taken once a year.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D is a very essential nutrient for growth and formation of teeth and bones in the body. A vitamin D test determines the presence of Vitamin D forms in the body. A low vitamin D indicates a deficiency, which can easily be taken care of with vitamin D supplements, changes in diet and lifestyle. It is recommended to take this test every 6 months.
- Pap Smear: A pap smear test or more popularly known as a pap test is a procedure to detect cervical cancer in women. This test involves collecting cells from the cervix to check for abnormalities. Cervical cancer detected early has more likely chances of being treated effectively.
- STDs: Sexually transmitted diseases often tend to impact the health and lives of a lot of individuals. Testing for sexually transmitted disease involves tests including:
- Chlamydia:Sample of genital area or urine sample
- Gonorrhea:Sample of genital area or urine sample.
- HIV:Blood test or swab from inside of the mouth
- Genital Herpes:Blood test (from an arm or a fingerstick).
- Syphilis: Blood test or sore sample
- Trichomoniasis:Sample from the infected area, a physical exam or test of discharge.
- HPV:Visible genital warts
- Prostate Cancer: Prostate cancer tests are very important for men aged above 35 years. These include two tests namely – Digital rectal examination (DRE) and a PSA blood test.
- Mammogram: A mammogram provides X-ray analyses of the breasts which is very effective in detecting the early stage of breast cancer.
- Calcium: Calcium in the blood is used to test for problems such as bone diseases, heart issues, kidney problems and teeth problems. Calcium is detected via a blood test.
- Uric Acid: Uric acid test called serum uric acid measurement is done to analyse how well the body is producing and removing uric acid. It tests the amount of uric acid present in the blood.
- Stool Occult: Stool occult test is done to identify any invisible blood in the stool which may indicate test hemorrhoids, colorectal cancer, or another condition. The test is called fecal occult blood test.
In all, these are some of the most common health check-ups that analyse the functioning of the entire body. A combination of these tests as per need or a full body check-up can also be done to know the health of the body. More so, tests can also be selected based on symptoms of a problem, if any. It is important to consult a doctor to know the best tests for your condition.