How to take charge of your health for increasing quality of life

We have made tremendous progress in our understanding of healthcare patterns in India. This understanding has been employed

We have made tremendous progress in our understanding of healthcare patterns in India. This understanding has been employed in improving certain key parameters. A good example is life expectancy at birth for the Indians.

I have heard from many people, that life was better in the earlier years. But as you can see in the 1960’s the life expectancy for an Indian was around 40 years. Things started moving since then and today we have the life expectancy of around 70 years. Last decade we added almost 5 years to the life expectancy. So I think the statement that we have not improved is understating the work and the progress made by the government and other healthcare institutions in India.

While the ecosystem works to improve, key parameters like our life expectancy, the onus for improving the quality of life lies in our hands. I see this as the biggest dichotomy in our current state in India. Despite the progress, people have still not woken up to the need to take charge of their health. Doctors in India are too busy dealing with the diseased that they have no time to help you with prevention and maintenance of good health. ALso good health can never become an election agenda. So I wonder how many of the party manifestoes before elections even talk about providing good healthcare.

In this context, I feel citizens need to take charge of their own health, manage their own healthcare data and run maintenance and prevention like they would do for their household appliances or cars. Simple ? I think so. This change in mindset could make all the difference and help us live more productive lives.

Today, I want to raise awareness about two key tests that one should routinely (Every 6 months) undertake after the age of 35 to monitor some very manageable conditions.

HbA1c- Or Glycated Haemoglobin. As you know the Haemoglobin within the Red Blood Cell (RBC) carries Oxygen to the various parts of the body. The Haemoglobin in the RBC also combines with glucose to create Glycated Haemoglobin. This gives a good measure of the amount of glucose in your blood for the last 120 days, which is the lifespan of the RBC. Traditionally people used to check for fasting sugar, random blood sugar or postprandial (PP/ after meals). But the HbA1c measure is a much better method of keeping track of your blood sugar levels. Given the rate of growth of Diabetes in India, this is an important parameter to keep track of. It is estimated that there are around 50-60 million Diabetics in the country and the number is bound to grow higher.

Ideal Measures for Hb1Ac should be

  • Below 6%- Normal
  • Between 6%- 6.4%- Prediabetic
  • Above 6.5% – Diabetic

These are indicative figures and the ideal interpretation should be done keeping in mind any other pre-existing conditions.

Vitamin D – If you have a desk job and work mostly indoors, in air-conditioned environments then it is very important to keep track of your Vitamin D levels. Vitamin D is called the sunshine Vitamin and is created by the body when it comes in contact with sunlight. It also naturally occurs in Fish and Egg Yolk. But of late due to lack of exposure to sun and sedentary lifestyle, many urban Indians are being diagnosed with Vitamin D deficiency. While in children it cases deformity of bones also called Rickets, in most adults the deficiency leads to muscular joint pain, weakness and pain in the back. Of late the deficiency of Vitamin D is also associated with the following

  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Cancer
  • Asthma especially in children

Test- One of the tests that are indicated 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood test.

Ideal Measures

  • 20 nanograms/millilitre to 50 ng/mL- ideal
  •  <12 ng/mL – deficiency

Again my recommendation is to consult your physician before conducting these tests. Also, a recommendation to use only National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) accredited labs for the tests. In the coming posts, I will discuss some other parameters that we should be aware of to ensure we have the right quality of life. Also, I am working on a report on data democracy focusing on how we can manage our own healthcare data. If you are interested in this subject do reach out to me via this post and I would love to hear your views on the topic. While modern medicine can increase our longevity, it is up to us to maintain the quality of life. Life is a journey and while we will arrive at our destination, how we arrive is up to us.

Stay Healthy 🙂

(Photo by Drew Hays on Unsplash)

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