Here’s to good health!
By Ashima Sethi
Indians are notorious for putting things off, especially when it comes to the important things like our health. I get it, we get distracted, and although it’s easy for us to nag our parents and our children into visiting the doctor, it’s easy to forget to prioritise ourselves, too. With the sheer volume of different check-ups now available, I don’t blame you for feeling overwhelmed, so here’s Masala’s recommendations on how to get started.
WHY ARE REGULAR CHECK-UPS IMPORTANT?
Even if you think you’re the healthiest person in the world, having regular medical check-ups can help you keep track of your well-being. Whether it’s quarterly, twice a year, or even annually, going through general health screenings can help doctors detect any possible ailments early on, improving your chances of treatment and potentially saving you from financial drain as a result of severe illness.
HOW DO THEY WORK?
When you get a general health check-up, a doctor will first ask you about your medical history, your lifestyle, and your family’s medical history in order to identify if you’re genetically predisposed to develop certain diseases. The doctor will also note your weight, diet, how much you exercise, and high-risk factors such as alcohol intake, smoking, and history with drugs. They will then recommend a series of initial tests to screen things like cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, etc. before moving onto more in-depth tests for kidney function, lung function, bone density, and other indicators.
- Have your blood pressure checked regularly after you turn 20 (every two years if it’s normal; yearly if you have high blood pressure or a family history of heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure )
- Opt for a blood test after you turn 20 to check cholesterol, blood triglycerides, and other indicators that might suggest the development of heart disease (if you have a family history of heart disease, get tested every year. If not, at least once every four years)
- Check your body mass index (BMI) every two years, more frequently if you’re high risk or overweight. Additional tests like Electrocardiography (ECG) that records the heart’s rhythm, and the Exercise cardiac stress test, where professionals assess your heart’s response to physical stress, might also be used to form a better understanding.
- Fasting blood sugar level test that measures the amount of glucose in your blood after refraining from eating (if you’re at risk for developing diabetes, get tested annually).
- Risk factors for developing Type 2 Diabetes include family history, pre-diabetes (when blood glucose is slightly elevated), obesity, high blood pressure and cholesterol, inactive lifestyle, smoking and alcohol abuse, and PCOS for women.
THE RISKS SOUTH ASIANS FACE…
- South Asians are more susceptible to heart disease, stroke, and diabetes than other ethnicities.
- The World Health Organisation (WHO) projects that most of the world’s heart patients are South Asian.
- 1/3 of diabetics worldwide are Indian.
- 50 percent of heart attacks in South Asians occur before the age of 55.
- Nearly 1/2 of all Indians have metabolic syndrome, which is a precursor to diabetes and heart disease.
- Breast cancer- after turning 40, a breast exam and mammogram is recommended every two years.
- Cervical screening- a small sample of cells are taken from the cervix and then examined for types of HPV that can cause cancer. This should be done every five years after a woman turns 25.
- The PSA test detects the amount of prostate specific antigen in your blood. For those at risk of developing prostate cancer, undergo a screening every year after you turn 45.
- For testicular cancer, doctors recommend that men perform a monthly self-exam. If any abnormalities are found, doctors will conduct blood tests and ultrasounds to examine further.
- The older you get, the more likely you are to develop conditions like glaucoma and cataracts. If you’re older than 65, an annual eye exam is important. If you suffer from certain conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes, frequent testing is recommended.
- If you wear eye glasses or lenses, get your eyes tested every year. If you do not, get an eye test every two years.
- For those who are sexually active, it is recommended to get tested for chlamydia and gonorrhoea every six months as both are common and often do not show symptoms.
- It is also recommended to get tested for HIV annually.
BUT WHERE TO GO?
We’re lucky that Thailand has incredible healthcare for affordable prices.
Here’s a list of some of the best general health check-up packages available.
- The city’s celebrated Bangkok Hospital has several general health packages on offer, ranging from the Vital Wellness Check-Up for below 30s (THB 4,200 to the thorough Supreme Wellness Check-Up for over 50s (THB 27,500). Call 02 310 3000 or visit www.bangkokhospital.com
- Theptarin Hospital is renowned for specialising in cardiovascular and metabolic health, and their check-ups range between the Happy Life for under 30s (starting at THB 2,990) and the Premium Life for over 50s (starting at THB 11,900). Call 02 348 7000 or visit www.theptarin.com
- Package prices at Bumrungrad International Hospital begin at only THB 6,160 for their Regular tests and go up to THB 56,070 for their Comprehensive Vitality tests. They also offer add-ons for vaccinations, thyroid screening, and others. Call 02 066 8888 or visit www.bumrungrad.com
- At Sukumvit Hospital, patients can choose between their very affordable Silver package (THB 3,400), which covers all the basic indicators, all the way up to their in-depth Diamond package (THB 30,900). Call 02 391 0011 or visit www.sukumvithospital.com
- If you’d like to undergo a health check-up while enjoying a leisurely retreat, Wellness We Care’s curated getaways (prices start at THB 9,000) combine holistic approaches to healing your body with exercise, nutrition guidance, and more. Visit www.wellnesswecare.com for more information.