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Health News of Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Source: Dr Essel

Annual Health Assessment

For fear of the unknown many of us avoid medical examinations and as always we have several excuses including the fact that something is going to kill us anyway so why bother. An annual medical examination is not an attempt to avoid death but rather prevent unnecessary early suffering and enjoy life once we have breath.
Though some of us choose our own investigations and have them done I think it is of much greater benefit when you discuss this with a doctor and reach conclusions that will be worth the money you are investing in your health.

Essentially your doctor after talking to you will request some basic investigations and depending on the results you may need to do additional tests. It is much more helpful if you have a fair idea of conditions that run in your family since that may guide the doctor in the choice of tests.

As we celebrate the birth of Christ, let us avoid excesses so that having a health assessment or medical examination in January 2017 will not be too scary to consider.

Some of the tests we are likely to consider with our doctor are:

1. Blood Pressure and pulse
a. In less than 10 minutes one will be able to determine if high blood pressure aka “the silent killer” is stalking you.
b. Your pulse is a window to your heart health.
2. Weight and MBI (body mass index)
a. Our ideal weight for our height does not ensure immortality but it’s a good indicator of long-term health.
b. Do not be overweight and neither should you be underweight. Tow the middle line.
3. Full Blood Count (FBC)
a. FBC measures the concentration of white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets in the blood and may give us information on conditions such as anaemia, infections, cancers and bleeding disorders.
4. Fasting Blood Sugar
a. It is one of the tests done to check for Diabetes and one should not have eaten for at least 8 hours. You may drink water though.
5. Haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c)
a. Glycated haemoglobin test is a blood test used to diagnose diabetes and also to determine how well your diabetes or blood sugar control has been over approximately a three (3) month period.
6. Lipid Profile
a. Lipids never cease to create controversies and this profile measures the amount cholesterol and other fats in the blood. It is a measure of ones risk to develop a cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) disease. Typically the fast period is 10-12 hours and ONLY WATER is allowed to be taken.
b. This test will give values for ;
i. Total Cholesterol
ii. Triglycerides (TG) or “sugary cholesterol”
iii. HDL or “good cholesterol
iv. LDL or “bad cholesterol”
7. Kidney Function Tests
a. The kidneys keep electrolytes such as potassium and sodium at their right concentrations so that the body performs at its peak.
b. It also serves to excrete waste from the body and when it is not functioning properly Urea and Creatinine levels tend to rise.
8. Liver Function Tests
a. The liver has several functions in the body and in some diseases of the liver certain enzymes in liver cells may leak into the blood stream.
b. Albumin which is a protein produced by the liver will be low when the Liver is not functioning properly or there is an infection.
c. Bilirubin is a result of the breakdown of red blood cells and a damaged liver is unable to process it adequately leading to high levels of BILIRUBIN in the blood.
9. G6PD Status
a. G6PD deficiency is an extremely common enzyme deficiency in humans.
b. It may be associated with brisk breakdown of blood cells after ingesting fava beans or being exposed to certain infections or medications.
c. Many individuals with G6PD deficiency (there are degrees of this deficiency) have no symptoms however it is worth knowing ones status to act as a guide in the choice of medications a doctor will prescribe.
10. Hepatitis B (Hep B)
a. A disease caused by the Hepatitis B virus. It may lead to scarring of the liver, liver failure, liver cancer and even death. It is spread by infected blood and other body fluids such as semen and vaginal secretions.
11. HIV
a. If you missed checking your status of 1st December (WORLD AIDS DAY) this may be a great opportunity to know your status.
12. Stool Tests
a. It may help to determine worm infestation
b. Occult or hidden blood may also be detected that could suggest bleeding peptic ulcer or cancer in the gut.
13. Urine Tests
a. It has the power to assess many things happening in the body or to organs.

14. Cervical Cancer Screening for women
a. These tests aim at detecting cancer early either by detecting abnormal cells or picking up the virus that causes cervical cancer.
15. Prostate Cancer Screening for men
a. It is a “priviledge” to have your doctor insert his or her lubricated gloved finger into your rectum to examine the size and consistency/texture of the prostate among others.
b. It is preferred that you wait for several days after a digital rectal exam before you take a blood sample to check the PSA (prostate specific antigen) to avoid getting abnormally high values. Alternately you can take the blood sample before doing the rectal exam.
16. Breast Examination

Your thyroid hormones may also be worth reviewing especially if you have never assessed them.
Let us all pledge to have our initial health assessment by 31st March 2017. It is time and money that is ALWAYS well spent.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a 2017 filled with great health and prosperity.

Dr. Kojo Cobba Essel
St. Andrews Clinic/Health Essentials

*Dr Essel is a medical doctor, holds an MBA and is ISSA certified in exercise therapy and fitness nutrition.
Thought for the week – “St Andrews Clinic, open Mondays through Saturdays for Medical Examination. You may just walk in or;
Call 0302-761-188 or send an email to for an appointment.

• MDS-LANCET Laboratories – Preventive Medicine for Men and Women Brochure
• MEDSCAPE on Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency

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