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Checking Up on Your Health

By Connie Bobik

November 15, 2012 - As we approach the end of the year let’s reflect on some health issues that have been spotlighted during health care awareness months this past year.

From “go red” for heart health in February to “pink” for breast cancer in October and “white” for lung cancer in November, a lot of information has been presented to promote healthy living.

Have you taken notice?

• Heart disease
Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States. When is the last time you had your blood pressure taken?

Many people are unaware they have high blood pressure, which is called hypertension. Take advantage of pharmacies, fire stations and community centers that offer free blood pressure monitoring. It could save your life.

Also, is your diet heart healthy? The internet has many resources that offer heart healthy menus at low cost. Another important factor is managing stress and learning how to relax.

• Cancer prevention
One in eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. When is the last time you had a mammogram? How often do you do self-breast exam?

The latter is quick, easy and doesn’t cost a dime or involve a trip to the doctor. Early detection equals a positive outcome. Late diagnosis increases risk of metastasis with a poor prognosis.

Do you smoke? The effects of smoking are cumulative and the primary cause of lung cancer and emphysema. It’s also a risk factor for bladder, esophageal and other cancers. Spare your lungs and explore the strategies available to stop smoking.

What about the sun? Excessive sun exposure early in life is a precursor to skin cancer later in life. Protect your skin with sunscreen.

• Communicable disease
Flu and its complications account for about 49,000 deaths a year, especially in older adults. Don’t be a victim or a source of transmission for others. Get the flu shot and don’t forget to wash your hands often.

• Obesity
Obesity is at high levels and continues to rise. It can lead to heart problems, diabetes and other conditions at an early age if unchecked.

What do you weigh? What are your eating habits? How often do you exercise? It’s critical to eat healthy, exercise and avoid overeating.

As you look toward next year, add at least some of these health strategies to your “to do” list.

Connie Bobik is an associate professor of nursing at Brevard Community College.