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3 Tests You Should Discuss With Your Doctor

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By Robert Geimer

For many years I have advocated seeing your doctor at least once a year, every year, when you are feeling well.  Such “well visits” or “annual exams” are a great time to for your physician to run tests and discuss issues, as larger blocks of time are generally allotted to these visits, testing is not skewed by acute illness, and you are usually better able to have a discussion with your physician when you are feeling well.  In recent years, 3 tests which were not typically run have been shown to have greater importance upon long term health and merit discussing with your physician.

Hemoglobin A1c  - A blood test that shows the average level of blood sugar over the last 3 months.  Traditional blood glucose testing only measures levels at that moment, and we know that blood sugar levels can vary significantly depending upon food intake and other factors.  A1c testing can show pre-diabetes and diabetes, and a rapid test is now available with a finger stick in the office.  If testing is collected over time, it can show important trends in blood sugar levels.  The explosion in diabetes in this country makes this test even more important.

C-reactive protein – A blood test that can reveal inflammation within the body.  Inflammation has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, heart attack, stroke and cancer.  While the test is not diagnostic, it can be an early warning sign of a developing problem.  Levels are likely to be elevated when you have a common cold, etc., as acute inflammation is likely to be present, so the best time for this test is when you are feeling well.

Vitamin D – A blood test measuring levels of vitamin D.  The main sources of vitamin D are from the sun and certain foods.  However as the information age has led to an increasingly indoor lifestyle, vitamin D levels have fallen.  Research has shown that low vitamin D levels are associated with many health problems.  In fact, researchers at the University of California San Diego have found that people with lower levels of vitamin D were twice as likely to die prematurely as people with higher levels of vitamin D [1]Vitamin D deficiency can be corrected with sun exposure and vitamin supplements.  Therefore, this simple test could literally be a life saver.

As always, you should discuss your specific situation with your doctor, but most physicians I know are appreciative of patients who pay attention to their own health and take affirmative steps to prevent illness or at least catch it early when it occurs.  These 3 simple tests may help you do just that.

[1] - Lower Vitamin D Level in Blood Linked to Higher Premature Death Rate
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