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Your own personal WOF: taking your heart seriously

Posted: 27th August 2014   |   9 comments

I got my results from my regular blood tests, called a lipid blood test, this morning: cholesterol and blood sugar are both in the normal range. In addition, my blood pressure is fine as well. Excellent news, and I'll be back in six months to do it all again.

I dislike blood tests. I understand from my Mum that I had a lot of steroid injections and blood tests when I was pre-school for asthma and other problems. I can't be sure that's the reason, but I hate needles. So I dislike going into Pathlab: sitting in their clean, disinfected rooms; putting my arm on the cradle; the smell of the alcohol rub; having the nurse never listen when I say which one of my veins actually works for blood tests; the little sharp prick as the needle slides up inside your vein. I hate every one of the three minutes it takes. But I do it every six months, and have done for the past nearly three years.

The blood test is important. A lipid blood test is looking for fats in my blood, the most well known of which is cholesterol. Looking for lipids is about trying to predict my risk of atherosclerosis, which as I've written in earlier blogs, is the build of fatty deposits, or plaques, on the walls of the artery. These build ups can increase the risks of blood clots, strokes, heart failure, renal failure; bad stuff you don't want to happen. All the other lifestyle changes I've talked about previously in relation to cardiovascular disease still apply, but you need the information that a regular blood test provides to have a realistic picture of where you are at.

To cut to the chase, I want to live, so I've made an effort to have a regular check up at the doctor. My wife has cajoled me, my mother has mocked me, my friends have down played my distress to ensure I get the check up. So I can't claim to be enthused about it, but I think about it as my own WOF. As I've traveled through my 30s, I'm more aware that I am not bulletproof. Ignoring twinges, concerns and symptoms is a fool's game for two reasons: often what's actually happening is not as bad as I imagine it; symptoms tend not to go away without some help.

My motivations are fairly simple: I'd like to be round for my tamariki and mokopuna. I want to be an old man, to sit on the paepae at home and bore people with the same ten stories over and over again. I want a quality of life where I can do what I want to do. I like tramping and bush walking when I get the chance, I enjoy walking up and around Mauao, I like playing the odd game of touch or cricket with whānau and friends. To do all that, I have to be looking after my body.

I'm far from perfect. I weigh too much because I like good wine and too much food. I eat too much red meat. I don't exercise at least three times a week every week because... reasons. Nevertheless, what I am doing is a good idea and is helping me know more about what is going on inside my body than I may have otherwise. I really want to encourage you to get in the habit of regular health checks, Doctors are way less annoying and far more compassionate than your whānau are; so if you've managed to survive the needling of your whānau to date, you'll survive the polite concern of a doctor.

If you are feeling brave and want a check up, ring one of our Ngā Mataapuna Oranga health clinics today.

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