1. Visit your doctor
It’s shocking how many people are just not seeing a doctor because they either can’t get time off or don’t prioritize their health, Dr. Renee Dua, the chief medical officer and co-founder of Heal, noted. There are medical centers, including Heal, that are open on weekends or have doctors available after hours. “It is shocking how little effort people put into understanding their illness,” Nauman Mushtaq, MD, MS, medical director of cardiology, Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute, said. “This is especially important for chronic diseases where a large part of staying healthy is lifestyle modifications.”
2. Talk about mental health
Make sure you have a talk with your doctor about pressures you feel at work or home, about possible signs of depression you may be exhibiting, and about lack of sleep, if that’s an issue, Dua said. “Psychiatrists often don’t take insurance, which makes treatment very expensive, but [general practitioners] are the first step and can initiate treatment by talking about the problem and maybe prescribing medication,” she added.
3. Get screened for cancer
You don’t even need a referral for a mammogram if you’re older than 40, or for a colonoscopy if you’re 50 or older, so you really should get screened if you are over a certain age, especially if you have a family history of cancer. Annual lung cancer screening with low-dose computed imaging is also recommended for smokers, even if they have quit for years, and for people between 55 and 80, according to Dua.
4. Check your cholesterol
It’s a mistake not to get your cholesterol checked if you are older than 35, Dua noted. Adults should check their cholesterol levels every four to six years, according to the CDC. High levels of the fatty substance in your blood, which show no symptoms, are a major contributor to heart disease, which is the No. 1 killer in the country. The body makes the cholesterol it needs, but people get extra amounts from the foods, such as fatty meats, they consume.
5. Drink in moderation
Anybody has the right to enjoy alcohol, but it should not be done in excess, according to Dua. Many people overindulge — 40% of adults in the United States drink too much, a 10% increase since 2014. Drinking in moderation is defined as having up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. Alcohol interferes with the brain and can cause changes in mood, behavior, and thinking. Excessive consumption can cause stretching of the heart muscle, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, fatty liver, cirrhosis, and several cancers.
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