Haims: Evaluate your risk of chronic disease through blood testing (column) | VailDaily.com

Haims: Evaluate your risk of chronic disease through blood testing (column)

Judson Haims
Special to the Daily

When you leave your doctor's office after a check-up and are told, "All looks good," what does that really mean?

Odds are, the purpose of most medical office visits is to address a known concern such as a cold, respiratory issue or anxiety. However, even when the purpose for an office visit is more specific and evaluates blood pressure, infection, cholesterol or a neurologic concern, are you leaving the office knowing that there are no other health concerns that could (or should) be addressed?

If your medical provider informed you that they had a very sophisticated and accurate diagnostic tool that could reveal ailments that were affecting your current and even future health, then would you want to know?

While Dr. Leonard McCoy's hand-held tri-recorder diagnostic device from "Star Trek" does not currently exist to analyze our overall health, great technological strides are being made in electronic monitoring devices. One such device is Basil Leaf Technologies' DXTER. This consumer-based device has the ability to collect data about your vital signs, body chemistry and biological functions.

While DXTER is in Phase 1 clinical trials and hopefully will pass Food and Drug Administration regulations, the device could be years away from being brought to market. However, there are extremely advanced diagnostic tools available that can give you and your medical provider insight about diseases and conditions such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and how well your organs are functioning.

The diagnostic testing I am alluding to? Blood testing. Not just a standard complete blood count, which typically covers red and white blood cell counts, hemoglobin and platelets, but comprehensive blood testing.

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The complete blood count panel, often performed at annual medical visits, does provide medical providers with valuable insight into how your body is functioning. However, it is more of a high-level overview and does not provide in-depth details on more specific aspects of your health. Detailed blood tests will inform you of current and potential health risks.

Should you choose to be proactive in your health management and know about the quality of your current health and/or risks that may be developing, make an appointment with your medical provider and get detailed blood tests. Not only will you gain valuable information about your health today, but more importantly, you will able to establish a benchmark to monitor your health status looking forward.

Even if you live a relatively healthy lifestyle by eating well and exercising, your body changes as you age. Having a thorough understanding of your blood work is empowering and will enable you to make choices that may help stop preventable chronic diseases.

You can't assess your health simply by how you look and feel.

Don't wait for symptoms to present themselves to learn that you have, or are developing, health concerns. Stopping preventable chronic diseases can happen if you are proactive. While diet, exercise, supplements and good lifestyle choices will lead to better health, you may not know exactly how well you are doing unless you know your blood work numbers.

Get to the phone and make an appointment with your medical provider to have blood panels performed.

Ask your medical provider to go over anything in your blood work that is outside of the normal range. Knowing how your blood results are trending over time is a great tool in understanding your overall health.

Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County. Contact him at 970-328-5526 or visit http://www.visitingangels.com/comtns.