Before an upcoming appointment or procedure, your primary care provider may ask you to have some blood drawn. Todd Duerfeldt, DO, PPG – Family Medicine, shares his thoughts on the importance of getting routine lab work done and why it should be part of your healthcare regimen.
Most of us realize the benefit of exercise and healthy eating as valuable tools helping to maintain optimal health, but how many of us place getting routine lab work on the same pedestal of importance? In our increasingly busy schedules, sometimes finding the time to take care of ourselves can, unfortunately, fall by the wayside. If we have any extra time in our day, we often devote it to exercising or making better meal and dietary choices. However, as a family medicine physician, I recommend taking a little extra time once or twice a year to get routine lab work, too, because it is every bit as important as diet and exercise to a person’s overall health.
The reality is that many diseases and medical conditions may initially be silent or undetectable. For instance, many diseases and disorders could get detected early with lab work, but they often go unnoticed when based solely on how someone feels. In fact, many of those conditions are treatable and even curable if caught early enough. Let’s look at some examples of how routine blood work can be beneficial and informative.
- Prostate cancer: This is one of the most common cancers in men in the U.S. and is highly treatable when detected early. However, like so many cancers, it can become difficult to treat or cure once it advances.
- Diabetes and prediabetes: Nearly 1 in 3 Americans currently have either condition, and almost 25% of them were unaware that their sugar levels were too high. If left untreated, diabetes can gradually lead to early-onset heart disease, kidney failure, increased risk of stroke, neuropathy and other severe or life-threatening conditions. That’s why detecting sugar changes during the prediabetic stage is so important. It can help people get treatment and make lifestyle changes to avoid developing diabetes.
- Leukemias, anemias and abnormalities: A complete blood count (CBC) can help detect leukemias (cancer of the early blood-forming cells). It can also help identify any anemias (abnormally low amount of red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout the body) and platelet abnormalities (which help clot the blood and assist wound healing).
- Cholesterol: Lipid screenings can help identify high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. High levels of either one can significantly contribute to the blockage of arteries throughout the body, including the coronary and carotid arteries, which supply blood to the heart and brain. Blockages in these veins can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Most of the time, these conditions are invisible unless detected by a blood test.
So, as you venture into 2022, please take the time to concentrate on your own health, including scheduling your routine screenings and lab work. After all, if we don’t take care of ourselves, how can we care for the ones we love?
The Parkview Center for Healthy Living Check-Up Days are a perfect opportunity to get an assortment of discounted lab work done. For more information on upcoming Check-Up Day events throughout the year, please visit us here.