Health parameters or health indicators are computable characteristics which determine an individual’s state of physical and mental well-being. Blood pressure, pulse, body temperature and respiration are vital health parameters assessed by physician to make diagnosis. Hence, maintaining these parameters in optimum range is the key to robust life.
- Blood Pressure
It is the measure of pressure exerted on walls of blood vessels when heart contracts and relaxes. As heart contracts, it pushes blood through the blood vessels under high pressure for circulation in the body. Thus, the pressure exerted is known as systolic blood pressure. Whereas, diastolic blood pressure is the pressure exerted by blood on the walls of blood vessels when heart relaxes in between two contractions. Blood pressure is recorded in fraction, i.e. p/q form, in which numerator (p) and denominator (q) represents systolic and diastolic blood pressure respectively. Blood pressure is an excellent indicator of healthy heart. Normal and abnormal measurements of blood pressure are recorded as follows:
Normal: Blood pressure below 120mm of Hg (systolic) and below 80mm of Hg (diastolic).
Pre-hypertension (At risk of High blood pressure): Blood pressure 120-139mm of Hg (systolic) and 80-89mm of Hg (diastolic).
Hypertension: Blood pressure 140mm of Hg or higher (systolic) and 90mm of Hg or higher (diastolic).
Blood pressure recording: People with hypertension are advised to get their blood pressure checked at least thrice a week. It can be checked by an individual himself using digital blood pressure monitoring device. Validated monitor should be used to minimize error. To begin with, locate pulse present at bend of elbow region on the inner side using index finger. Once pulse is located place cuff three inches above the site of pulse and put on the monitor. Within few seconds monitor displays the blood pressure as well as heart rate. Individual should be well rested before assessing blood pressure as a state of stress or anxiety may give falsely elevated readings. Persistent high blood pressure requires prompt management.
2. Blood Sugar or Blood Glucose
This health parameter is a measure of circulating sugar in the blood. Normal value should be between 4 and 6 mmol/lit. (72 and 108 mg/dl) empty stomach and up to 7.8 mmol/lit. (< 140 mg/dl) two hours after meals. It is essential for diabetics to keep a track of their blood glucose. The device used to assess blood glucose is known as blood glucose meter.
Blood glucose recording: Individual is instructed to wash hands. Finger is pricked on tip and blood is taken on strip followed by insertion of strip in glucose monitor. Reading is displayed in few seconds. Recording blood glucose is of utmost importance for diabetics as their diet and medication dosage is adjusted accordingly.
3. Body Mass Index (BMI):
This health parameter takes into account height and weight of an individual and determines health status in terms of normal or abnormal weight. It is a numeral measure of weight corresponding to height. BMI is calculated by measuring weight in ‘kg’ divided by square of height in ‘m’, hence, unit of BMI is ‘kg/m2’. BMI values are depicted as follows:
Below 18.5 kg/m2 >>>>> Underweight
5 to 24.9 kg/m2 >>>>> Normal or Healthy weight
25 to 29 kg/m2 >>>>> Overweight
30 kg/m2 and above >>>>> Obese
BMI in upper ranges predisposes a person towards developing diseases like hypertension.
4. Accessory health parameters:
Sleep, calories burnt, steps walked are some of the additional health parameters used by individuals to keep a track of their health. These can be efficiently and conveniently measured using accredited fitness trackers available in health care market. They come in the form of smartwatches, lightweight bands, and dongles implanted in clothing. Users identify out-of-range health indicators, take instant action, thus, avoid complications.
Health parameters are the cornerstone of healthy living. With the advent of technology, handy, reliable and economical devices have made it effortless for users to trail their health parameters. Only need is to be conversant with technology and utilizing it vigilantly.
Diabetes and its prevention
Diabetes is a chronic, accelerating disease identified by elevated blood glucose levels (hyperglycaemia). Body’s ability to metabolize carbohydrates, fats and proteins is impaired in diabetes. Diabetes is caused due to disturbance in either secretion or action of hormone insulin. Insulin is released by a gland in our body known as pancreas and helps in regulating glucose level of blood by converting glucose into energy. In people suffering from diabetes, production or action of insulin is impaired; consequently, glucose is not metabolized and keeps circulating in blood resulting in high blood glucose levels. Therefore, it is also mentioned as ‘high sugars’ by both patients and healthcare providers.
- HMO gives you opportunity to perform early screening
Every individual should undergo screening for diabetes every three years interval beginning at age of 45 years. Individuals with risk factors for diabetes such as obesity, high blood pressure, cholesterol, family history etc. should undergo tests more often.
Diabetes is a progressive disease with fatal complications. As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure, so, mass education, lifestyle modification and screening are the tools to restrict diabetes and free ourselves from its clutches.
Maintaining blood pressure and blood cholesterol with HMO
High blood pressure and cholesterol predispose a person to develop diabetes and vice-versa. Hence, blood pressure and blood cholesterol should be assessed frequently, at least once every three months to cut down the risk of diabetes.
South London doctor clinics are using HMO APP as a prevention tool to spot the early signs of diabetic and to change the behaviour to prevent the illness to escalate.
Types of Diabetes
Diabetes is primarily of two types: Type I and Type II.
Type I diabetes is induced when body’s own immune system attacks the pancreas causing extensive damage resulting in either no or very less insulin. Such persons require insulin injections throughout life, hence, this type is also known as insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus or juvenile-onset diabetes mellitus as onset is usually below 30 years of age.
Type II diabetes results from diminished responsiveness of body’s muscle cells to insulin leading to accumulation of glucose in the blood. Pancreas tries to lower raised blood glucose by producing more and more insulin and ultimately exhausting. Diet and exercise are primary treatment modalities augmented with oral blood glucose lowering drugs. Type II diabetes is commonly noticed after 40 years of age, hence, also known as adult-onset-diabetes or non-insulin-dependent diabetes.
Risk factors for diabetes
Obesity, physical inactivity, family history, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, diseases or infections of pancreas and females with polycystic ovaries are at highest risk of developing diabetes.
Prevention of diabetes
Key to prevention of diabetes lies mainly in the following five components:
- Exercise and weight monitoring:
Exercise and weight control are immensely important to lessen the risk of diabetes. Obesity reduces the sensitivity of muscle cells to insulin. A planned 30 minutes of physical activity at least five days a week proves to be a boon as it enhances uptake of insulin by muscle cells, promotes glucose metabolism, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol.
- Nutritional Management:
Healthy diet marks the foundation of diabetes prevention.
- Replace processed and refined carbohydrates (white bread, white rice, pasta etc.) with whole grains (whole wheat bread, pasta, brown rice, barley etc.). Whole grains are complex carbohydrates containing both starch and fibre, therefore, digestive enzymes have to work hard to break them ensuing steady rise in blood glucose.
- Sugar-laden drinks should be substituted with tea, coffee or water, which are low calorie sources. Furthermore, coffee and tea are rich source of antioxidants (polyphenols) having an anti-diabetic effect.
- Replace bad fats with good fats. Bad fats (whole milk, butter, cheese, ice creams, coconut oil, palm oil etc.) should be taken sparingly as they are rich in saturated and trans fats, good fats (olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, peanut butter, almond butter) should be taken in moderation.
- Substitute red meat and processed meat with poultry, fish, nuts.
- Take high fibre diet. Fibres absorb water in gastrointestinal tract resulting in the formation of gel. Consequently, food absorption is delayed leading to slow rise in blood glucose.
- Vitamin-D has shown remarkable effects in curtailing the risk of diabetes. It improves function of insulin producing cells enhancing glucose metabolism.
- Low carbohydrate diet, plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and nuts are effective in cutting the risk of diabetes.
- Certain herbs like cinnamon, curcumin have proven to be effective in increasing body’s sensitivity to insulin and improved function of insulin producing cells.
- Quitting addictions
Smokers are at significantly higher risk of developing diabetes as compared to non-smokers. Alcohol consumption in moderation (1-2 drinks per day) has shown to reduce risk of type II diabetes. Consuming higher amounts can enhance the risk.