6 things you need to know about your own health
You can help your future health by learning how well your body is working today – and taking corrective action if necessary.
Here are six things that are vital to know:
Your blood pressure
High blood pressure - or hypertension - is frequently symptomless but can lead to major health problems, such as kidney damage or vascular dementia in later life. It can even cause emergencies such as a stroke or heart attack. Find out your reading via the GP or a pharmacist. For adults, a normal blood pressure range is between 90/60mmHg to 120/80mmHg. If you’re outside that range, you need to take action. Read more here, and discover how to lower your blood pressure too.
Your cholesterol levels
High total cholesterol readings due to too much ‘bad’ cholesterol in the blood can increase the risk of heart disease and other conditions. Even if you’re otherwise healthy and have a good diet, it’s also worth knowing that high cholesterol can be hereditary. Being familiar with your reading can help you to take action to lower your levels should you need to. Find out more here.
Your body mass index (BMI) is a way to calculate whether you are under, over or at the right weight for your height. Being above the healthy weight range can put you at risk of health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and some cancers. Find out your BMI here. Additionally, you need to measure your waist, regardless of your BMI. You should try to lose weight if your waist is larger than 94cm (for men) or 80cm (for women).
Your family history
Few health conditions are caused by genes alone – most are down to a combination of genetics and environmental factors. However, it pays to know if a blood relative has had a significant health issue, as sometimes you’ll be asked about your family’s health history. Additionally, some people may also carry the gene for a serious condition but not have it themselves. Knowing this may be invaluable when planning a family.
Your blood type
While there are plenty of books telling you what to eat for your blood type, the jury’s still out on the actual impact of your blood type on your health. However, there are a couple of good reasons why knowing your blood type might be useful. Should you need a blood transfusion, knowing it could save time (although blood type can be determined pretty quickly) – or if you’re pregnant (as carrying a specific different type of blood to your baby can cause Rhesus disease). One great way to find out your type (while helping others) is by giving blood, if you’re able.
Any allergies you have
Most people will of course know if they have any allergies but if you have had an allergic reaction to a medicine (for example penicillin or erythromycin), keep a note so that you can remember to tell the doctor. It could prove vital to ensure your family, friends and colleagues know of any allergies you have, and that you are aware of theirs.
If you have any concerns, remember that as a Benenden Health Member you can access a GP at any time, seven days a week, by calling 0800 414 8247 to make an appointment.