Thursday, March 25, 2010

Stick It To The Man

Since I am now self-employed, the luxury of all-inclusive health care is no longer within reach. It simply costs too much to pay the premiums for front-end preventive care and back-end catastrophic coverage. So I will be making a switch to a policy that provides only the back-end, the drastic costs associated with a long-term illness or serious accident. Preventive care will be up to me to find and pay for out of pocket.

The free-market side of me thinks that is just fine. I can be(come) an informed consumer of health care services. Until now, the costs were completely hidden from me, buried inside the ever-increasing premiums I paid, and my employer paid. In theory I am still in fine health, and anticipate no problems for the foreseeable future. That can change, and establishing a solid baseline now will be an important tool over the next years. To that end, I am making use of my extensive coverage while I still have it to get done routine things like a physical, as well as some blood tests for cholesterol/triglycerides and blood sugar. High blood pressure, heart disease, and adult diabetes are all indicated in my family history, so watching for those things are important.

Blood Draw

Today I had the blood draws taken for the cholesterol and blood sugar tests. That meant fasting for 12 hours. My metabolism is kicked up a notch lately with the numerous dance rehearsals and classes, so no late-night snack and no breakfast was a minor annoyance. Fortunately I lived through it, and am now contentedly slurping on my second cup of coffee.

By the way, that photo of my right arm was a bit of a challenge to take. I had to shoot left handed, and my bulky SLR is already too large for my small hands. Fortunately this model has "live view", which is using the LCD screen for composing the shot like almost every point-n-shoot does. I got it with two tries. There are times when a pocket camera would be a handy thing.

UPDATE: Results are in!
                  ME     NORMAL RANGE
GLUCOSE, FASTING  93     75 - 110 mg/dL
CHOLESTEROL      173     115 - 200 mg/dL
TRIGLYCERIDE     145     34 - 150 mg/dL
LDL, CALCULATED  101     50 - 130 mg/dL
HDL               43     40 - 60 mg/dL
That tells me my blood sugar is fine, no real indications of adult onset diabetes. While my overall cholesterol level is fine, the breakout of LDL (bad) and HDL (good) is not that hot. The link to the Mayo Clinic, above, tells me this:
"Your LDL is too high. And, because you have heart disease, or are at high risk of heart disease, it's important to work with your doctor to get your LDL level in the optimal range. To achieve this, your doctor will recommend healthy lifestyle choices and possibly cholesterol medications. Talk to your doctor at your next scheduled appointment about your treatment options. Take action to lower your LDL."

Under "What To Do", they list the following: Limit unhealthy fats, Eat more fruits and vegetables, Get regular physical activity. I have the last one covered pretty well. I can certainly improve the first two. The Top-5 foods to reduce LDL are: Oatmeal and oat bran, Walnuts, almonds and more, Fish and omega-3 fatty acids, Olive oil (2T per day!), and Foods fortified with plant sterols or stanols (orange juice and yogurt drinks fortified with plant sterols).

About those triglycerides: They are an indicator of fatty sludge in your blood, and are a contributor to heart disease and stroke. Mine aren't out of the normal range, but I am at the high end, so reducing them is important. More Omega-3 fatty acids, like found in fish, and added to some non-junk breads will help. According to a publication by P.K. Reissell's group at Harvard in 1966, it was clearly established that Omega 3 fatty acids and Vitamin C, combined with a low carbohydrate diet, can dramatically reduce your triglyceride levels. I should avoid the bad kinds of fat - transfats and hydrogenated oils found in margarine, processed and refined foods and fast food. These transfats are chemically altered substances, and as such your body does not know how to handle them properly. They are foreign to the body and therefore dangerous to your health. The optimal level of triglycerides in my blood would be under 100mg/dL.

Next on the agenda is a complete physical. I am curious to hear what the Doc will tell me about these numbers. In the meantime, I guess I go shopping for fruits, nuts, veggies, and fish!

No comments:

Post a Comment

If you don't have a blooger or "open" ID, you are free to use "Anonymous" for your posts, and leave your name if you are willing.