There is an unfortunate idea that check-up packages are only for men. After all, men have a higher incidence of heart disease, get cancer of the prostate and lung cancer, so since men die earlier than women, preventive check-ups are more important for the man of the house.
That concept must have been put forward by a man looking for sympathy. The truth of the matter is that serial check-ups don’t keep you alive forever, but they do make a considerable positive difference to the Quality of Life as one gets older. (I use capital Q and capital L on purpose.) Longevity alone, with no Quality, just isn’t worth it in my book. Or yours, most likely, otherwise you would not be reading this column.
The guiding principle behind check-ups is to find deviations from normal health patterns at an early stage. Early enough that the trend can be reversed, before damage has occurred. Examples of this include Blood Pressure (BP), a significant factor in poor health in the future if unchecked now, for both men and women. High BP can affect many organs in the body, not just the heart. But an elevated BP generally gives no warning symptoms.
Another example is blood sugar. Again, it requires sky-high sugar levels before the person begins to feel that something might be wrong. And by then the sugar levels have affected vision, the vascular system and many other systems, all of which can decrease your Quality of Life in the future. Amputation of a limb is a common result of unchecked blood sugar levels. A situation that neither men nor women would wish for themselves, I am sure.
Cardiac conditions and abnormalities, be that in anatomy or function, can also very adversely affect your Quality of Life, but are very easily found during a routine check-up. Various blood tests and an EKG can show just how well the cardiac pump is functioning, and how well it will continue to function in the future. The inability to walk more than 50 meters certainly takes the fun out of mother’s shopping, yet this can be predicted – if you have some serial records!
Another of the silent killers can be discovered in your lipid profile, with Cholesterol and its fractions HDL and LDL, being intimately connected with your cardiac status. Again a situation where detecting abnormalities now can mean that you can get through the deadly 50-60 year age bracket in the future with clear coronary arteries and a clean bill of health.
There are actually so many of the conditions that can affect your enjoyment of the future that can be discovered early. Renal (kidney) function and liver function can be monitored through an annual check-up, as can cervical cancer (pap smear) or breast tumors (by mammogram).
So hopefully I have influenced you enough to begin to think about an annual check-up – especially for your mothers. If so, I have some very good news for those of you living in Pattaya. The Bangkok Hospital Pattaya (telephone 1719) has repeated their previous Mother’s Day promotional packages with big discounts on check-up packages (up to 70 percent for some individual items, though the check-up packages are generally at 50 percent off). That is for August, so get Mum down there pretty soon. Mothers are precious people – mine is 94 and she was found to have cervical cancer 50 years ago. I think we can call the detection system and the operation a success!
If Mum is under 40 years of age, and you think your Mother is in good health (non-smoker and moderate drinker) then every two years will be fine. If mother is older than 40, then make it an annual event. It is good ‘insurance’ for the future.
And what degree of check-up should you go for? If mother is in tip-top health and previous check-ups have been normal, then go for the simple screen – however, if she is a smoker, or has some previous results outside of normal, move up a notch to the more comprehensive tests. I would also suggest that if she is over 50, look for the more detailed check-ups.