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Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-02-22



HEALTH AND FITNESS FiveTests Worth Your Dollars
by Andrew Davis

This article shared 2931 times since Wed Jul 16, 2003
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There are five screening tests that could save your life. The only problem is that you have to pay for them yourself. In most cases, the tests aren't covered by insurance if you are healthy and at average risk. But the reason the tests aren't covered or even recommended by physicians has more to do with our national health policy than what may be best for you. Screening tests can be expensive, and the government and health insurers need to justify the costs. Other tests just don't have the political support. Honestly, when is the last time your doctor talked about magnetic-resonance blood tests? Lastly, no screening test is perfect, and a false positive can lead to more testing and invasive procedures that can do more harm than good. Still, you might feel these tests are worth the risk.

In the end, the decision involves a calculated risk. Patients who don't get tested are gambling they will be among the majority who stay healthy. Those who do pay for screening may get peace of mind, but they also accept the risk of possible danger. Keeping all of this material in mind, here are the five tests you may want to ask for yourself. Some should be done yearly; others should be taken depending on results. By the way, HIV testing would be on the list but plenty of Chicago-area sites offer that service for free.

1. Expanded cholesterol testing: Cost: $75 to $175. It's a blood test. The results break down both the good and bad cholesterol into subcategories that can give a better indication of your risk of heart disease. Half the people who have heart attacks have normal cholesterol under traditional testing. Part of the problem is that the average cholesterol test doesn't directly measure your LDL, or bad cholesterol. It just measures HDL, or the good cholesterol, and molecules called triglycerides, and then uses a formula to come up with an LDL score. However, that formula can be very unreliable, especially if you have a high triglyceride count. Insurance plans often will pay for the test if a person has known heart problems or other risk factors or other risk factors such as diabetes. Unfortunately, the companies won't pay for tests for healthy people—even though approximately 40 million otherwise healthy folks have hidden heart disease. Studies show the expanded tests could have detected 95% of heart-attack patients early. Some well-known tests include the one from Berkeley HeartLab, the VAP test from Atherotech, and the NMR Lipoprofile from LipoScience.

2. Transvaginal ultrasound: Cost: Approximately $250. Despite its cringe-inducing name, this test is painless, though not exactly comfortable. The examination is performed annually and involves a wandlike device being inserted into the vagina to view the ovaries. Right now, there is no approved screening test for detecting ovarian cancer, which kills over 14,000 women every year. It is the deadliest female cancer because it often doesn't produce symptoms until it has reached an advanced stage. Early detection can boost five-year survival from the standard 31% to 95%. The best study supporting transvaginal ultrasound comes from the University of Kentucky, where researchers have screened about 23,000 women over the age of 50 or women over 25 with a family history of the disease. So far, the screening has picked up about 300 ovarian tumors. Only 29 of those were cancerous, but 76% were caught in the early stage. Typically, only 25% are caught early. Ovarian cancer risk is highest among women in their 70s, and higher among women with family histories of ovarian, breast, or colon cancer. Women who have never had children are more likely to develop ovarian cancer than those who have.

3. EBT heart scan: Cost: $50. This test involves a machine that looks for calcium buildup that can signal heart disease. This test is very vital when you consider that, for 150,000 people a year, the first—and last—symptom of heart disease is death. A study of these scans, published in the journal Circulation, found that the tests are useful in predicting heart problems in intermediate-risk patients— those without symptoms but with at least one traditional risk factor. According to Harvey Hecht of New York's Beth Israel Medical Center, EBT 'tells you, 'These are your arteries. This is how much plaque you have.'' Patients with high calcium scores may be prescribed medication or urged to make diet and lifestyle changes. If there's heavy buildup of calcium, a follow-up stress test may help to determine if there's a blockage that needs to be treated. That being said, the test remains controversial because results can be occasionally misleading.

The Society for Atherosclerosis Imaging says the scans are best for men over 45 and women over 55 with no risk factors, and 10 years earlier if you have a risk factor like family history or smoking.

4. Spiral CT scan: Cost: $200 to $450. You glide feet-first into a scanner, stopping at the neck. This annual test can find lung cancer when it is as small as a grain of rice. In contrast, standard X-rays don't spot cancer until it's much larger. The overall five-year survival rate for lung cancer is just 15%, and studies show that survival rates are longer with earlier detection. Still, not enough is known about whether patients are simply learning about their cancers sooner or if they're simply living longer.

The early evidence regarding spinal CT scans is promising. Right now, just 15% of lung cancers are found early. In scanning studies, however, 80% of the cancers are caught early. Again, a problem with these scans involves false positives. These scans are recommended for smokers and former smokers 50 and over who have puffed at least 10 'pack years'—that's a pack a day for 10 years or two packs a day for five years.

5. Aneurysm scan: Cost: $60 to $200. This test doesn't hurt, but you'll feel slight pressure. It's basically a 5- to 10-minute ultrasound with a hand-held scanner against your abdomen. The test can spot bulges in the artery wall long before they become life- threatening, and if the results are positive, you may be rechecked regularly. Aneurysms (artery expansions due to weaknesses in the arteries' walls) are surprisingly common; about 7% of men over 60 have it. Few people, however, have even heard of it or realize they might be at risk for abdominal aortic aneurysm, which kills 30,000 people yearly. Aneurysms caught early can be corrected with surgery. The surgery can be risky and may require a long recovery—but can boost survival to 96% to 99%. If an aneurysm ruptures, the chance of dying is 80% to 90%. The best candidates for screening are men over 60 and women above 60 who have a cardiovascular risk factor, such as diabetes, smoking, or obesity. If you're over 50 and have a family history of aneurysms, by all means see a doctor ASAP. Sources: WebMD; Wall Street Journal

Sperm Limits

Here's another reason to hate the good-looking. According to a recent study, handsome men produce the best quality semen and beautiful women seem to have good voices, according to scientists. When researchers at the University of Valencia in Spain tested the quality of male sperm and then later asked women to rank the attractiveness of the donors it produced some interesting results. < p>'They found that men with the most attractive faces also make the best quality sperm,' New Scientist magazine stated.

Source: Yahoo News

Simply the Chest

So summer's finally here—which means we'll be seeing more exposed body parts than ever. If you're the type who likes to go shirtless (and I'm not discriminating between the sexes), you might be interested in the info that Mike George of Mike George Fitness has on how to achieve that muscular chest: The following exercises are intended to overwork the pectorals. Each of the exercises that follow should be performed with a weight that allows three to four sets of 8 to 12 repetitions and no more than a 60-second timed rest between each set.

1. Chest flies: Lie flat on a bench with your feet firmly on the ground. To start, hold a free weight in each hand, bend and lock your elbows, and place each weight together directly above and away from the center of your chest. Pull the weights away from each other (keep your elbows locked) until they come to rest a few feet away from either side of your chest. Count to three. Then return them to their original position. (Note: This exercise involves dumbbells but cables are best.)

2. Incline chest press: Sit down on incline bench with dumbbells resting on lower thigh. Kick weights to shoulders and lean back. Position dumbbells to the sides of the upper chest with elbows under dumbbells. Press dumbbells up with elbows to the sides until arms are extended. Lower weight to the sides of the upper chest. Repeat.

3. Dumbbell pullovers: Do these exercises on a flat bench, keeping the elbow still and only moving from the shoulder joint. (This works the minor pectorals and pushes out the major pectorals.) For best results follow this order and make sure that you not exceed the rest time and do not go below a eight-repetition set.

Mike George can be reached at (312) 943-6700. His health club is at 401 W. Ontario in Chicago; .

*** I'm at .

It Makes Plane Sense

We have enough to deal with when we fly including paranoia and cardboard disguised as food.

Here are a few tips to make sure you won't have anything else to worry about ... like blood clots in your legs.

1. See the light: You can use bright light to overcome jet lag. If you've traveled eastward (from Chicago to London, for instance), expose yourself to 30 minutes of bright light in the morning. Westward travelers should seek out light in the evening. This advice only applies if you've flown through no more than six time zones.

2. Get up, stand up: You should walk around every once in a while, especially on a long flight. Any long period of inactivity can lead to blood clots developing.

3. The air up there: Poor ventilation can cause a variety of problems. The air vent above your seat is there for a reason.

4. Planet of the grapes: Bring fruit onto a plane. It's a healthful alternative to airplane food ... if it's even served.

5. Plug it in: Use ear plugs to battle those air pressure changes that occur when planes take off. You can also swallow, open your mouth, or chew gum.

Source: Harvard Health Letter

This article shared 2931 times since Wed Jul 16, 2003
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