Know Your Numbers: Key Metrics to Maintain Your Health
Do you remember the last time you received a physical examination? Your doctor can discover many illnesses and diseases that do not have physical symptoms through a physical exam.
Wellness Works, Crozer-Keystone’s employee wellness program, encourages you to schedule an annual physical examination so that your doctor can evaluate your blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, body mass index and many other vital numbers that are important to your health. Knowing these numbers can help you avoid serious complications, and to achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Some of the key health metrics that you should discuss with your physician are highlighted below. Only your personal physician can determine the exact numbers that are right for you. In general:
- According to the American Heart Association, a healthy blood pressure level is 120 over 80. If you have a blood pressure higher than these numbers, you may be at risk for many diseases. High blood pressure can lead to damage of the heart, brain, arteries and kidneys.
- The American Heart Association states a healthy cholesterol level is less than 200 mg/dL. Cholesterol levels are measured in milligrams per deciliter of blood. A level of 200 or less puts you at lower risk for coronary heart disease. Your doctor will also track your “good” and “bad” cholesterol levels, and discuss these with you. High cholesterol is one of the major controllable risk factors for coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
- According to the American Diabetes Association, a normal fasting blood sugar is 100 or less. Higher fasting blood sugars may mean glucose intolerance (a step towards diabetes) or, if high enough, diabetes. Early discovery and treatment of elevated blood sugars can prevent serious diabetes-related complications, such as blindness, heart disease, kidney failure and amputation of limbs.
- Body Mass Index is a measure of body weight based on a person’s weight and height. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the BMI healthy range is 19-25. Overweight is 26-30, and anything over 30 is obese. A high BMI number can result in heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. Visit http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/ to find an easy BMI calculator.
Annual physical exams are covered in full by the Crozer-Keystone Health Plan/Select A, with a copay of $5 for employees and $10 for spouses, if you use a Crozer-Keystone physician. Physical exams are important because they can help prevent health problems before they start. If you have a high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or a high glucose level, a physical exam may be beneficial to you. Your doctor can provide information on how to lower your levels so you do not develop heart problems or other life-threatening diseases in the future.
During your check-up, also talk to your physician about whether you might need a mammogram, prostate screening or colonoscopy. These important screenings are covered in full under Select A if performed in a Crozer-Keystone facility. If you are at risk for any of these diseases, your physician may recommend that you begin the screenings at an earlier age:
- According to the American Cancer Society, annual mammograms are recommended for women age 40 and older. If you have a family history of breast cancer, or have had breast cancer before, contact your doctor to discuss how often you should get a mammogram screening.
- According to the National Cancer Institute, doctor’s recommendations for prostate screenings vary. Some doctors encourage men to get routine screenings at age 50, while others recommend men get screened at age 40. It is difficult for men to determine if they have prostate cancer because prostate cancer normally does not have any symptoms. By the time symptoms do occur, the disease may have spread beyond the prostate. Therefore, it is recommended for men to get screened.
- According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease, employees age 50 and above should also schedule a colonoscopy to screen for colorectal cancer. Employees can schedule a colonoscopy earlier than 50 if there is a family history of colorectal cancer, a history of inflammatory bowel disease or other risk factors. A colonoscopy allows for the early detection of cancer when it is highly curable, as well as the detection of growths (known as polyps) that could become cancerous.
Eugene Zegar, vice president of Human Resources, believes employees should take advantage of the health benefits Crozer-Keystone offers.
“We encourage our employees to improve their overall health and well-being. Through the comprehensive benefits we offer, we hope more employees will take better care of their health. Receiving annual physical examinations and other routine visits are vital to achieving a healthy lifestyle,” Zegar says. “In addition, Wellness Works members who record their healthy habits, such as the annual physical and related screenings, on a Healthy Lifestyle Tracker accumulate points and are rewarded for their healthy lifestyle each year.”
You can find a physician who’s right for you by calling the Crozer-Keystone Call Center at 1-800-CK-HEALTH (1-800-254-3258) or visiting the “Find a Doctor/Midwife” section of the Crozer-Keystone website, www.crozerkeystone.org.
Make sure to check out the "My Wellness" page of www.crozerbenefits.org for a wide variety of wellness-related information and links to important health-related websites that can help you learn more about what your numbers mean and how to improve them. For example, just click on the Great American Health Check link; it’s a quick and easy way to obtain a personalized health action plan that you can print out and take with you to your doctor's visit. You will learn your BMI, age and gender risks, and how to improve your eating habits and physical activity levels.
This program supports the mission and goals of Wellness Works, which helps Crozer-Keystone employees, achieve a healthy lifestyle through health promotion and disease prevention. Employees who participate in these programs may be eligible to receive credit on their Healthy Lifestyle Tracker. For more information about Wellness Works, contact Susan Winkles at (610) 595-6387 or 19-6387.