Friday, February 26, 2010

3 Safe and Simple Health Tests You Can Do At Home

The February 24 issue of The Oregonian featured an article by Joe Rojas-Burke, "Safe, simple health tests you can do at home," which stated that one of the most informative tests has proved "to be the cheapest: blood pressure measurements, taken lying down and then standing." Though low-tech approaches aren't flashy, researchers have developed some simple tests that have "proven accurate at predicting future health problems. The advanced warning can provide time to avoid illness by making changes in diet, exercise, sleep and other habits, and if necessary, taking medications to stay healthy."

Each test is simple and safe to try at home. If, however, you have any questions or concerns or experience any negative results, contact your primary care physician immediately.

Resting Heart Rate
Resting heart rate is an early warning for heart attack. To test yourself, you should first sit quietly for five minutes, then use your fingertips to find your pulse at your throat or wrist. Then "count the beats in 30 seconds and multiply by two. If your rate is above 75, consider talking to a medical caregiver about whether you need to make changes to lower your heart attack rick."

Waist Size
Waist size is an early warning for diabetes, heart disease, and premature death. To test yourself, first measure your bare waist across the belly button. Don't compress your skin. If your measurement is greater than 35 inches (woman) or 40 inches (men), it may " signal high risk for diabetes and heart disease. In children, the measures are less certain, says Dr. Sudhir Ken Mehta, a pediatric cardiologist at Case Western Reserve University and Fairview Hospital in Cleveland, whose research has linked waist size to heart problems in children. Mehta says its worth talking to a doctor if by age 5 your child's waist size exceeds 24 inches; by age 10 years it's more than about 30 inches; or by age 15 it's more than 35 inches."

Sit-Up Capacity
Sit-up capacity is an early warning for premature death. To test yourself, lie on your back, place your hands behind your head, and bend your knees at a right angle. Make sure your feet are flat on the floor. Then curl at the waist, toward your knees, and return to your starting position. Count the number of repetitions you can complete in one minute: " If your performance is below average, more strength training would do you good. Average is 14 sit-ups for women in their 40s, nine in their 50s, and six in their 60s. For men, it's 23 sit-ups in their 40s, 18 in their 50s, and 12 in their 60s."

>> For more try-at-home health tests, and to read the original research, download the full-length article from The Oregonian here:

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