Monday, 19 August 2013

Health check screening

Most men understand how important they need to provide regular maintenance to keep their cars running in top-notch working condition... but somehow forgotten to apply the same routine mainenance on their own health care.

Why should I go for health screening? 

There are many people with narrow mind like me believe as long as they are not sick or have any disease then there is no purpose to go for health check screening until it becomes chronic or it may be too late.

The health screening, which was announced under Malaysian Budget 2013, is provided free of charge to Socso's insured persons aged 40 and above who are still actively working. It's valid for a year but like everything else, most people preferred waiting until the last minute only to do it.

Well I thought to myself, it's free so why not? I hate to let a voucher go to waste.

Some of my friends are still reluctant to use the voucher.

Their answers are,

Hey, when my time is up, it’s up, I gotta go…well don't you want to delay a bit ?

What you won’t know won’t hurt you.. a person's state of health is like how much estimate time left in the world…make sure you leave a will before you meet your maker!

It’s better not to know you have a sickness; you just learn to live with it or to accept fate…err don’t you want to fix your health or save yourself if there's a chance?

For every diseases are relatively symptom free detection but when it comes to visible and extreme pain you are obviously, will fear most – the unwanted truth...Too Late to Save... The damage has been done. It is impossible to cure now, if it is caught early and properly treated, the disease can be cured or a fighting chance.

What is Health Screening?

It is a periodic evaluation of the body system to detect a disease in individuals which often have no symptoms in the beginning until advanced stages when treatment may be too late.

Like they always says, 'Preventive is better than cure' when it comes to health matters.

The Health Screening is a diagnostic tool used to measure and evaluate the body's major organ functions such as the liver, heart, kidney, bone and muscle functions.

Blood is very useful diagnostic tool. Since blood is the major main carrier of nutrients, waste products out and providing oxygen, it can supply valuable data from lab tests when carried out to measure or detect different substances in a person's body.

A sample of the patient's blood is put into a large machine, the tests are carried out by computer-controlled automated analyzer machine.
Automated identification and mixing of blood samples
can saves precious time and help to reduce the risk of manual errors

These are machines that process a large portion of the samples going into a hospital or private medical laboratory. Automation of the testing process has reduced testing time for many analytes from days to minutes

 From the results can help detect health problems in early stages, a change of lifestyle is imperative to get back to good health including get rid of smoking forever, reducing bad intake cholesterol food and taking plentiful of good nutrition food.

Well I’m not getting any younger, and I’ve been meaning to have annual health checks but I always had to postpone even though the sessions will last approximately 20 minutes only but the results take a little longer, results ready for pick-up after three working days.

Those eligible Socso (Social Security Organisation) members can do their check up at any registered panel clinics or BP Healthcare Group. (also PERKESO panel)
The basic voucher worth RM80 is for standard screening package which consists of physical examination, consultation, blood test and urine test.

I had a look around where should I go?

I select the latter (BP) as it seems they are well equip to cover everything that concerned me and I even pay for additional to upgrade from a basic screening package to general screening package. I further request for Ultrasound scanning of my upper abdomen to make sure all my important organs parts in the body are in good condition.

BP also provides convenience time as its open from 8am till 1.00pm on Sunday

In order to receive the most accurate results I am required to fast 6 – 8 hours before taking test. Only intake of plain water permitted no coffee or other beverage!

My Health Screening Day - 2nd June 2013

The whole process started off with me getting registered and will be asked to complete and sign a detailed medical history and lifestyle questionnaire or a Health Screening Consent Form which started something like blah blah... I hereby give my consent for to receive the health screening tests. No doubt it is to protect them from against unwanted lawsuits, I think.

The nursing assistant makes a review of my previous medical illness, family medical history, present medical symptoms and medications.

Blood Pressure

The first of test for my health screening laboratory test screening is the Blood pressure checked using an instrument called a sphygmomanometer or blood pressure apparatus.

Our heart is a pump. Blood pressure is the force exerted against the wall of a vessel. The pressure caused by the pumping of our heart that keeps blood continuous circulating. Blood pressure is typically recorded as two numbers, written as a ratio like 141/90

She place cuff around the upper part of your arm and squeeze a rubber bulb to squeeze the artery in your upper arm and press the deflate button to release the air in the cuff
When they take your blood pressure reading the first number is when the heart is pumping (Systolic) , the second reading is where the heart's at rest (diastolic). It's like having a high pressure hose with the end blocked, even though it isn't running, the water is still under pressure until you open the end. The importance to prevent hypertension is that if your blood pressure is too high you could blow an artery somewhere. Likewise if when it is too low your brain would not get enough blood and you could faint, it may be a sign of stroke.

A person blood pressure varies as a person aged and a number of other factors. The normal blood pressure should be 120/80 mm Hg. Patient is said to be suffering from hypertension should a systolic blood pressure of more than 140 and a diastolic blood pressure of more than 90.

My blood pressure read 126/79 mm/Hg which is normal but if reading taken when driving in traffic or afrer running it definetly raises it 9 to 14 points. Blood pressure reading maybe wrong the first time, therefore it should be doing two to avoid incorrect results.

For 20- to 34-year-old men, the average blood pressure is 126/79 mmHg, and for 65-year-old men, the average blood pressure is 149/84 mmHg.

The chart below demonstrates the blood pressure categories as defined by the American Hart Association.

It is imperative that we take step to effectively reduce our high blood pressure.Your doctor may suggest medication to help you control your blood pressure but if thats not your style, learn ways to relax to minimize stress and tension like taking a little time off work for fun or listening to music.

Learn how to have a good laugh, hearty laugh can relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your worries behind. It's free so why don't we use it more often. After all, laughter is the best medicine.

How is a blood test carried out?

Blood samples are obtained for testing either from a vein (which carries blood to the heart) or from an artery (which takes blood away from the heart).

The part I hate the most is getting a big needle stuck in your arm to withdraw my blood. Majority if blood tests are taken from a vein, usually from those around the elbow. First she give me a soft rubber ball to grip gently to make the vein prominent, this makes it much easier to withdraw the blood.

Clean area of my injection site beforehand with with spirit and then a needle is put into the vein. Don’t worries all needle will only be used one time only.

When ample amount of blood has been extracted, the needle is removed and a little ball of cotton wool is held over the wound. I was asked to press for one to two minutes before applying a band aid plaster or adhesive bandage.

Look away somewhere to avoid fear of blood and pointy needles which can makes your stomach turn

Now that’s not too bad, some people are sensitive to needles and the sight of their own blood and may caused them to faint a blood sample is taken.

Nah, it doesn’t hurt caused I look away while she took the blood sample from me. She shown me my blood sample in a proper label glass tubes with my name on it to reassure me there will not be a mixed up when send to their  laboratory headquarter for testing.

What a typical health screening checked?

Your blood should be tested for:

-Cholesterol, triglyceride tests are blood tests that measure the total amount of fatty substances (cholesterol and triglycerides) in the blood,
 -Blood sugar, a diagnosis of diabetes is made if your blood glucose level is 126 mg/dl or higher after two consecutive blood tests
 -Thyroid function test,  is to tell how well your thyroid is working
-CBC (complete blood count):
-checks your white blood cell (WBC) count (and differentiates between the types), red blood cell (RBC) -count, the hemoglobin and platelet count.

After that blood test, I need to go we-we in a small glass cup- make sure it’s ¾ full and leave it outside the bathroom to be collected.

A  urinalysis is an examination of a sample of urine that can help detect if you have protein or blood in your urine. Is also to check if you have signs of diabetes or kidney disease.

Body Mass Index (BMI)

Body Mass Index, or BMI, is an important tool or formula that you can use to estimate if your weight falls within a healthy range. It is also to determine how much ideal body fat scaled according to your height and weight.

By using this formula:

BMI = Weight (kg) / [Height (m) x Height (m)].

Please bear in mind this BMI calculator should only used for a guide and never as a replacement for a professional medical advice of doctors.

Coin-operated weighing machines can be found in many public places like hyper-marts and departmental stores

Days before ultrasound became easily available; the use of x-ray was the prime way of looking at our internal bodies. X-rays is a cheap, quick and display great image for bones (fracture) and lungs but expose to the risk of radiation. Before X-rays a question will always pose on women to make sure they are not pregnant.

Ultrasound Scan

Ultrasound is a safe, cheap and painless test that uses sound waves to create images of organs and structures inside your body for quick assessment on patient.

Oh man, this was just a little bit awkward cause this routine mainly for pregnant women use to visualize checking on the baby in the womb. There is no danger of radiation exposure, I get to experience how pregnant mothers scan to look inside the womb.

I was lead to the equipment room by the receptionist and there was a pretty lady doctor waiting to attend me. She asked me for what is the reason I request this scan? If I'm a girl, the doctor will think I'm pregnant.

Just taking preliminary precaution that’s all, I replied.

I was asked to lie on the bed and pull up my shirt to scan but first a cold lubricating jelly was put on my stomach. This is to ensure the probe makes good contact with my body. While she scanned the image, she would reply my organ parts are normal. Three positions were taken, the front, left lateral and right lateral positions. The ultra sound uses high frequency sound waves to create an image of internal organs in a safer way. While taking each image I was asked to hold the breath for a while. No idea why?

The scan was concluded with all normal organs fine and I do get a copy of the image print out after the doc has completed her analysis report.

All my internal organs working fine according to doctor

And it ends with a medical consultation to explain your results base on the lab test and she begins with going through the medical lab report. The doctor will explain all the results and let me know any areas you need to be aware of.

Got my test result 

Doctor  read and interpret my test results, one by one cause many medical
 terminology terms unfamiliar to me

All seems to be okay but only one problem. Your Cholesterol is quite high. Say what?

You know what Cholesterol is right? Okay let me explain.

Cholesterol is a white, insoluble and waxy substance. It is carried around the body by two key transport systems in the blood:

With the increase low density lipoprotein (LDL, also known as bad cholesterol), and the decrease of high density lipoprotein (HDL, also known as good cholesterol), cholesterol deposits start accumulating cause a build-up of fatty deposits in the coronary arteries and other organs.

That could be dangerous as plaque in our blood artery wall and harden slowly blocks making it narrower for blood to flow through our arteries. Eventually this can cause a sudden heart attack or stroke.

 I can imagine our arteries have close similarities with any plumbing system. When excess cholesterol builds up as fatty deposits is just like clogged up minerals in the water react with the galvanizing material and form scale, which builds up over time and will eventually clog the pipe
I thought Cholesterol high is reserve only for fat people? Am I one of them? Many got the wrong conclusion and misconception about cholesterol is something to worry about when you’re older, but quite a lot of teenagers probably have it, too, because they only ever eat junk food or fast food.

Many young people have no idea that their cholesterol is dangerously high cause due to the lifestyle they practise; too much of fast food is bad for their health. despite looking slim and healthy, carry excess fat internally, putting them at serious risk of heart disease

Health-wise I’m still ok, I just need to make some diet changes as I have quite high cholesterol. I choose to go on my own to reduce the level and in six months time need to go back and see whether I achieve the desired result or else I will have to follow doctor prescribe diet plan.

Here is my battle plan against Cholesterols.

Exercise regularly + Healthy diet Food + Emphasize Food which lower Cholesterols - limit foods high in saturated fats = the results I hope will lower my cholesterol level

High cholesterol has become an increasing concern for Malaysians, in the year 2011, a study shows a staggering 10 million people or almost one third of the population are affected.

Exercise regularly - Shedding weight is never an easy task than gaining weight. What was that they always say? Yeah, No pain No gain.

It’s no secret anymore music has an uncanny ability to motivate us to move our body. Even if we did not intend to exercise but when you hear a nice beat music you automatically will move our body. What the most inspiring workout music? You guessed it right. Whenever I hear the beginning of the Rocky theme song, I instantly feel like to do some workout like Rocky when he train hard to get himself in peak condition.

No more seating watching television after lunch or dinner, in order to lose fats I need to create muscle workout to burn all those calories by moving around the house to keep the burn some extra calories or a brisk walk. On weekend it’s time to do more rigorous workout.
To shed weight I realise that an exercise workout fitness programme is still not enough; common sense tells you must realize you have to watch what you eat as well.

"Healthy diet" refers to food that designed to prevention of disease. In contrast avoid “junk food” which may be high in calories but has little other nutritional value.

I should be eating correctly consuming a variety of foods from all group foods in order to lead a good health.A balance food from all food groups to provide a balance of carbohydrate, protein, fat, fibre, vitamins and minerals to sustain a healthy body which can assist in lowering my intake of fat.

Emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk, I should be eating daily.

As a guide a healthy food, I should be eating sensibly a varied amount of food needed daily. Healthy diet food means consuming the right quantities of foods from all foods in the right proportions.

It contains one of the following:

The Starch Foods – Bread, potato, rice, pasta or cereal

The Protein foods – Meat, Fish, egg, cheese, milk, pulses or nuts

The vitamin and minerals foods- Vegetables, salad vegetable and fruits

Beside workout, you have to combine healthy diet and a change of lifestyle, which means avoid having late snack in “mamak stall” or eat sparingly your favourite “bak kut teh” food cause it s a high cholesterol food.

Try not to eat your late night snack, give yourself two to three hours to digest your food before you head to bed.

The foods you eat can help lower your cholesterol

If you want to lower your Cholesterols there are certain food that helps you do just that. Raise your good Cholesterols with daily serving of

Snack on plain, unsalted nuts and fresh fruit (every day).

Incorporate canned beans (such as baked beans) into at least two meals a week.

Eat plenty of vegetables (aim for variety of vegetables every day).

Choose wholegrain breads, cereal, pasta, rice and noodles.(everyday)

Include two or three serves of plant sterol-enriched foods every day (for example, plant sterol-enriched margarine, yoghurt, milk and bread).

Include up to six eggs every week.( non – cholesterol eggs)

Replace butter and dairy blends with polyunsaturated margarines. Margarine is made from vegetable oils, so it contains no cholesterol.

ABC soup,Mom speciality or Lou Song Tang recipe with chicken, potato, carrot, onion and tomato. Easy & delicious. Chinese Soup. Quick and Nutritious packed with Vitamin A (for carrots), Vitamin B6 (for potatoes), Vitamin C (for tomatoes). I reckon that's how it got its name.

Choose lean meat (meat trimmed of fat) which aid in weight loss and help to meet your protein needs lower their fat intake.
 Removing skin and visible fat from chicken  before eating

The foods I eat can help lower my cholesterol should be incorporated into everyone's diet as below:

1- Have fish (fresh or go for canned fatty fish, such as mackerel, herring, sardines and salmon, because they have a high concentration of omega-3s) at least twice a week, which is high in omega-3 fatty acids and may help prevent heart disease. Omega-3’s not only lower LDL cholesterol, they’re also significantly reducing blood levels of artery-clogging triglycerides.

Sardine salad, recipe 1 red onion, peeled, halved and sliced very thin. Yum yum. Mum like to put lots of chilli padi and always served cold with canned sardines

2- Go for high fibre food (such as oatmeal, oat bran and seeds) in your diets which are rich in soluble fibre and healthy fats. Kordel’s Active Oat 35

EVERYONE knows about oats and its ability to reduce cholesterol but not many knows to achieve the desired results, one would need to consume a minimum of three bowls of oats a day for 60 days, consecutively.

That is a difficult task especially when there are so much temptation like tasty delicious like nasi lemak but one has to be careful eating too much nasi lemak (coconut oil rice) can results in high cholesterol.

The solution: Kordel’s Active Oat 35 is the magic substance of beta-glucan in oats that enables it to reduce cholesterol in the body. Just 'Take just two spoonfuls a day' is all you need instead of the need to consume three bowls of oats.

Beta-glucan dissolves inside the digestive tract where it forms a thick gel that binds excess cholesterol and cholesterol-like substances within the gut. This will helps to prevent this bad boy cholesterol from being absorbed by the body.

3 - Grapefruit has long had a reputation as a health food. Not only is it loaded with nutrients like vitamin C, potassium and folic acid, but it also can reduce blood levels of LDL ("bad") cholesterol, and red grapefruit lowers triglycerides as well. Like other types of soluble fibre forms a gooey mass in your stomach that traps cholesterol and carries it out of your body before it can be absorbed into your bloodstream (where it contributes to clogged arteries).

Grapefruit in general if you`ve never tried it, the taste can be bitter and sour taste to it but I have no problem eating it. I prefer grapefruit to oranges or apple. I think of it as eating a mini size pomelo.
Pomelo is considered to be 'king of the citrus fruit, unlike Grapefruit juice is sour, bitter and very acidic , pomelo has a thick skin, but it's sweet, fragrant and delicious but better taste not neccessary better health benefits. Grapefruit helps reduce high cholesterol and diabetes also can aid in the prevention against cancer.

4 - Beans and lentils are great low-fat replacement for animal protein, which is often full of saturated fat. With beans you can incorporated anytime for food, whether its breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even snacks. One particular everyone favourite way is fried eggs and beans on toast usually never fails to satisfy. Usually serve with either rice or bread. Kidney beans are a good source of soluble fibre to help reduce cholesterol in one study; eating just half a cup of beans a day reduced cholesterol by about eight percent.

It's so good that it helps you burn fat and keeps your cholesterol down.

5 - Walnuts, almonds and other nuts can reduce blood cholesterol. All is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, which help keep blood vessels healthy.

The pistachio is the seed fruit of Pistacia vera, originating in Persia. Eaten as part of a healthy diet, can increase the levels of antioxidants in the blood of adults with high cholesterol,  an ideal choice for a healthy snack.
Plant sterols are substances found naturally in vegetables, fruits, nuts and grains. Research has proven plant sterols may help to lower levels of so-called “bad” LDL cholesterol.

Limit/ Avoid foods high in saturated fats

You want to eat foods that are low in saturated fats. The best way to regain healthy levels of cholesterol in our diet is to limit foods with animal fats which include meat, eggs and whole milk.

Choose reduced, low or no-fat milk, yoghurt, custard and desserts, or calcium-added non-dairy food and drinks. Try to limit ice cream to three times a week.

Fatty meats - Skip all those visible fat from eating. No more skin meat. There goes the crunching sound of fried chicken or the mouth watering smooth skin of Hainan chicken. Fatty animals meats especially pork, duck and goose meat.

The majority of fat in the chicken and other poultry lies under the skin; therefore we need to learn the habit to remove the skin before eating because this will significantly reduce the fat. Select lean meat (meat trimmed of fat and poultry without skin).

Replace cooking oil with olive oil, it will prevent cardiovascular disease.

Throw out the Junk food. 

To trim down some inches around the waist, do not keep junk food like chips, cookies, sweet and ..

Say goodbye to processed meat such as hot dogs, sausages and .. which is high in high in sodium, calories and saturated fat.

No more my favourite pig intestine porridge which is a mixture of liver, sweetbreads, kidney and stomach which are very high in cholesterol. Crispy pork intestine taste good with plain porridge

To lower the risk of heart disease, I need to avoid or limit eating food which is the main cause of high in saturated and trans fats include:

#1: Egg Yolk .

#2: Caviar (Fish Roe)

#3: Liver, Pate, Kidney (Organ meats)

#4: Butter. Butter, coconut oil and palm oil- Use spreads and margarines made from canola, sunflower or olive oil, and dairy blends that have earned the Heart Foundation tick, instead of butter.

#5: Shrimp (Prawns, Camarones)

#6: Fast Foods (Breakfasts) Try to limit take-away foods, such as pastries, pies, pizza, hot chips, fried fish, hamburgers and creamy pasta dishes, to once a week because most deep fried foods and commercially baked products made with egg yolks and saturated fats.

#7: Cheese

#8: High fat processed meats (Sausage, hot dogs, etc)

#9: Shellfish (Oysters, Clams, and Mussels)

It's always better to prevent disease than to treat it, and early detection and treatment of cancer, heart disease and diabetes can keep your doctor from saying, "Sorry, ... if only we'd known sooner but there's nothing we can do no now."


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