A smart investor wouldn't spend just 20 minutes a year with a financial advisor and expect to be in good fiscal health, so why would anyone think that their annual physical is enough to eliminate medical problems before they get ugly? These are 9 clinical tests that a doctor should always prescribe, and you demand.
9 clinical tests a doctor should always prescribe
Preventing the disease is in your own hands, There is a significant amount of medical tests that doctors cannot order unless you request them. Here are nine that should be routine for certain patients. Each has the potential to save your life.
High sensitivity C-reactive protein test
What it does: It measures levels of a protein in the blood that is indicative of inflammation, which can increase the risk of stroke and heart disease.
The procedure: blood tests.
Ask for it if: You are over 35 and have at least one major risk factor for heart disease or stroke, from smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, or a family history of heart disease or stroke.
What it does: Examines the carotid arteries (the two main blood vessels in your brain) with B-mode imaging, which creates a 3D image of each artery wall, and a pulsed Doppler scan, which measures the speed of blood flow through arteries
The procedure: A technician moves a handheld ultrasound probe over the carotid arteries.
Ask for it if: You are over 50 and have other major risk factors for heart disease or stroke, or have experienced the symptoms of a stroke (transient ischemic attack).
Electron beam computed tomography
What it does: Tests the amount of calcium in the coronary arteries, a predictor of heart disease.
The Procedure: A high-tech imaging machine scans your chest and produces images of your organs much faster than traditional CT and MRI scanners, improving clarity and detail.
Ask for it if: You are over 35 and have two or more major risk factors for heart disease.
What it does: Checks blood levels of homocysteine, a naturally occurring amino acid linked to an increased risk of developing plaque in the arteries.
The procedure: You fast for at least 8 hours before a blood test.
Ask for it if: You are over 35 and have at least one major risk factor for heart disease or stroke.
Nuclear stress test
What it does: Helps to identify the location and severity of reduced blood flow to the heart.
The Procedure: This test has three parts: resting imaging, a treadmill stress test, and post-exercise imaging. For the stress test, a cardiologist monitors your heart rate and blood pressure while looking for an irregular heart rhythm and changes in the EKG pattern. A nuclear isotope is then injected in preparation for post-training imaging. A scanning machine takes 3-D images of your heart, and the isotope dye shows where the plaque hinders blood flow.
Ask for it if: You are over 45 and have three or more major risk factors for heart disease or are planning to start a vigorous aerobic exercise program.
Fasting blood glucose test
What this clinical test does: It measures the level of glucose in the blood to determine the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The procedure: You fast for 8 to 12 hours before drawing the blood.
Ask for it if: You are 30 or older and have a risk factor, such as obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, a family with type 2 diabetes, or an African American, Native American, or Hispanic ethnicity.
What it does: Look for inflammation, abnormal growths, and early signs of colon cancer.
The procedure: A doctor passes a colonoscope over the entire colon. He will give you a sedative to make you feel comfortable during the 15 to 30 minute exam. The hardest part is drinking a laxative liquid the day before to cleanse your intestines.
Ask for it if: You are 50 or older, or 40 or older with risk factors such as inflammatory bowel disease, a history of colon polyps, smoking, excessive alcohol use, or family members who have had colon cancer.
What it does: Assesses bone mass density to determine the strength of your bones and risk of osteoporosis (porosity of your bones).
The Procedure: You lie on a padded platform for a few minutes while an imaging device passes over your body.
Ask for it if: You are over 50 and have two or more risk factors for osteoporosis, including smoking, excessive alcohol or caffeine consumption, a diet low in calcium and vitamin D, and a family history.
The PSA test
What it does: Measures a protein in the blood that suggests prostate cancer at certain levels.
The procedure: Consider a PSA speed test, in which the blood is tested three times in 24 months. A significant increase in total PSA may warrant investigation.
Ask for it if: You are 50 or older. Begin testing at age 45 if you have risk factors such as smoking, African American ethnicity, a family history of prostate cancer, or a diet high in animal fats.
A few other nutrients are also keys to improving eyesight. Among them are lutein and zeaxanthin, which are carotenoids found in the retina. You can also find them in leafy green vegetables, broccoli, zucchini, and eggs. Lutein and zeaxanthin can also be taken in supplement form. These carotenoids help protect the macula by improving pigment density in that part of the eye, and absorbing ultraviolent and blue light.