Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Health Scans: To do or not to do?

MacTroll has been talking about getting a heart scan lately. They apparently offer them from time to time at various open house clinics for $100. His family has a history of high cholesterol, blood pressure and heart disease. He spent his 20s and the first part of his 30s eating out of fast food bags and restaurants on the road either as a photographer or as a computer guy.

I think he wants the scan to know how much or if there's been any damage that he's already done to his heart.

In addition, today communities all over the US offered free screenings to see if folks were beginning to show deterioration in their brains due to Alzheimer's disease. My maternal grandmother had Alzheimer's. My mother often says things off the cuff about how she can't remember anything and how she'll probably get it like her mother.

In both conditions, there is a higher likelihood of having the disease if it runs in your family, but environment and lifestyle also play major parts in both health issues.

I'm not sure I'd have a screening, unless I had symptoms. Mostly because at both of them, they tell you that although your screen may say something, no one there is going to diagnose you. Instead, you're supposed to take your abnormal screening to your doctor.

What I worry about, is that if someone got screened and was given an all clear, it might make them make poorer choices in the future about their health because they think they're able to dodge the bullet, since they have for the last 30 years.

I know I have that response sometimes when I step on the scale. The "Ooohh, good, now I can eat" response to a good weigh in.

I know that sometime down the road the people I love in my life will start to have these kinds of issues. I remember when it happened to my parents in their late 30's and early 40's. One day you wake up and your 40-something neighbor who runs every day falls over dead of a heart attack. Or your parents die and you realize you're the oldest of the next generation.

I don't want to be left wondering where the time went. I don't want to be safe and not take risks and miss out on what my life could be. But at the same time, sometimes I feel blind in the dark and wonder if that's better than too much information. Where is the inbetween?

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