Last month I participated in Movember, which wasn’t just an excuse to grow facial hair in a strange way but a way to promote awareness of prostate cancer in men. Y’see, men apparently have a difficult time getting check-ups and physicals and a lot of the time never realize there is anything wrong with them until it’s too late.
In addition to it being Movember, a dietician had visited my workplace to discuss weight loss and general health issues associated with being overweight. I actually got scared after realizing just how unhealthy I had the potential to be…and where I was in terms of risk.
I’ve never had a physical in my life. I grew up not caring what I did to my body. But I turn 40 next year, my mother passed away earlier this year, and I hope to soon be officially part of Sunshine’s family (meaning I’d be a step-father to her awesome girls)…so I figured as though I now had even more reasons to start taking care of myself.
While I still don’t have a family physician and I haven’t had a physical done, I did have an appointment scheduled with that same dietician to get an overall cholesterol test done. The results were not only good, but quite encouraging.
I took a 10 Year Coronary Disease Risk Assessment, which would basically tell me if I was in a high, medium, or low risk category for some form of heart disease. Because of my general state of unhealth, I wasn’t exactly thrilled to be doing this. Each category was assigned points and then, in the end, the points would be added up to tell me my 10-year risk percentage.
The first thing to discuss was my blood pressure. I wasn’t too concerned about it because (1) Sunshine and I had taken our blood pressure together once before to see “whose was better” (I called it a tie as we both had good results) and (2) I just gave blood last week, and in order to donate you need to have good blood pressure. So while not optimal, my results were 133/78 and 127/81. These results were considered average, so that was a good first start.
The next thing I did was get my blood tested. It was a simple prick of the finger and took about five minutes or so for their little machine to analyze the results.
My total cholesterol was 4.5. Cholesterol results come from two types: HDL and LDL. As described to me, HDL is the “healthy” cholesterol and LDL is the “lousy” cholesterol. You want results of greater than 1.0 in your HDL test results, and then at that point you can determine what you want your LDL results to be (as one number affects the other in terms of what you want your TOTAL cholesterol to be).
My HDL was 0.85, which was lower than what I want it to be. The good news is that all I need to do is to increase some Omega 3 in my diet (preferably by fatty fish like salmon and trout) and that number should increase. My LDL was 3.14, which was below the recommended high number of 5.0…so in the end my overall cholesterol total of 4.5 was only slightly above the recommended 4.1 total. So while the “healthy” cholesterol isn’t as high as it should be, the “lousy” cholesterol is low enough as to not be accumulating and clogging my arteries.
This was a HUGE relief to me because I really didn’t know what my cholesterol was going to look like.
The next test was for glucose (i.e. sugar) in my blood. I was scheduled for a diabetes test a couple of weeks ago, but due to timing and scheduling I was unable to get it done. Turns out yesterday’s test did that for me. My glucose level was at 5.44, which was a tad on the high side but not over the “red line number” of 5.60…so that meant I’m NOT diabetic!
Again, this was another HUGE relief to me because I’m certainly at risk due to my height and weight.
There were also points assigned for age and whether or not I smoked (I quit almost eight years ago). Here is how the points broke down…
- Being between 35-39 ended up giving me 2 points (below 35 was 0, the next age group of 40-44 was 5 points…which is a huge jump).
- Being a non-smoker gave me 0 points (it would be 4 points if I smoked).
- My total cholesterol result of 4.5 gave me 1 point (less than 4.1 would have given me 0 points, with the next step up being results of 5.2 to 6.2 giving 2 points).
- Not being diabetic gave me 0 points (being diabetic would have added 3 points).
- My HDL levels were at 0.85, which is too high and gave me the maximum 2 points. Ideally, I want to be over 1.6 (-2 points!) but at this point any improvement is going to be a good thing going forward.
- My blood pressure results were good, so it resulted in me getting 0 points.
Add it all up and I ended with 5 points. On their 10-year risk assessment chart, 5 points equals a 3.9% chance of getting a coronary heart disease sometime within the next ten years…which is a LOW result (less than 10% is low, 10%-19% is medium, and anything 20% or over is considered a high risk for heart disease).
All in all, I was really stoked to receive this news. I honestly was scared going into the test, and once I got the results I almost felt like crying right there in the doctor’s office.
Obviously, this doesn’t mean that I slack off. What this means is that with me entering another risk category next year just by turning 40 (which would have given me a result of 6.7% risk if the results were the same a year from now), now is the time to make the changes that I need to make in order to stay as healthy as I possibly can.
I’ve got four children I want to see grow up. I’ve got an amazing woman in my life that I want to grow old with. In order to achieve those two things, I need to stay healthy.
So my New Year’s Resolution is already set in stone. I need to improve on these numbers as best I can so that in a year from now, when I take the test again, I won’t only have a similar result but a better one.
Next up in January is my body-weight assessment, which is the primary reason I scheduled an appointment with the dietician to begin with. I could very well be at risk for other health issues, so meeting with her again and getting this assessment done will be the next step towards a leaner and healthier CBG.