Keep yourself in full health

Castlebar based Dr Ann Shortt has worked as a doctor in emergency medicine and general practice for 10 years but a rotation in London opened her eyes to the benefits of health screening and early detection in order to prevent strokes, heart attacks, and cancer deaths from happening in the first instance. She works both as a GP in Brooklands Medical Centre, Castlebar and in Emergency Medicine in Galway.

It may sound like a bold statement but annual health checks could save thousands of lives every year in Ireland. Most strokes and heart attacks in Ireland this year could have been prevented, and most cancers picked up earlier, sometimes being the difference between life and death or sometimes the difference between needing chemotherapy or a colostomy bag and not. The simple fact is this all hinges on you taking the initiative to have a full health screening, which means you going to a doctor when you are not sick. This is something many of us are not used to.

A thorough health check would include the following:

Full blood count

Fasting cholesterol and good/ bad fats ratio

Fasting sugar and urine test for diabetes

Stool analysis for early cancer

Urine analysis and kidney blood test

Liver blood test

Blood pressure

Thyroid function

Prostate test

Electrocardiogram

Cardiovascular risk score

Body mass index

Full diet and exercise review

Full examination including rectal exam

Your results should come to you in the form of a proper written report explaining not only the results but also what actions you need to take.

Who should have a health screening?

Generally speaking anyone over the age of 35 would benefit from health screening, however this could be earlier if someone has a strong family history of cardiovascular problems or cancer, or is overweight or very inactive. Full health screening is not covered by the medical card and not all GPs are in a position to do it as it takes about an hour for the medical and two more hours to write a full report. However, it generally costs far less than a three-hour service for your car! For further information see www.fullhealth.ie or contact Brooklands Medical Centre, Castlebar on 094 902 6411.

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