World Health Day – Know Your Number, Before It’s Too Late

Company X which you have a small stake in reported that interim underlying profit was up 3 percent at
RM556 million. The RM950, 000 semi-D you bought 3 years ago is now worth at least RM1.4 million. At
over RM5, 000 per ounce at the end of July, gold price continues to rise.

These are numbers that you may be very familiar with and as a keen investor you will have many
options out there. Whether it is equity or property investments, forex or precious metals, you need to
be certain that you are choosing to build your portfolio around assets that can withstand economic
pressure and downturns.

But have you stopped to think what sets of numbers could be more important than your investment
activities? This set of numbers may not give you good financial returns, but it ensures that you will be
around long enough to enjoy the wealth that you have earned.

So what numbers am I talking about? Not the phone number of the pizza delivery or that of the cute receptionist next door. I am referring to your health numbers, and you better know them well!

Blood pressure

A normal blood pressure reading is below 140/90mmHg and if you consistently have readings above it then you have hypertension. More than 40 percent of Malaysians above the age of 30 have hypertension. Are you one of them? Do you know what your last blood pressure was?

Body mass index (BMI)

Overweight and obesity are closely linked to heart disease and many other medical problems such as hypertension and diabetes. A useful way of knowing if you have a weight problem is to calculate your body mass index or BMI. It is given by the formula BMI = Weight (kg) / [Height (m)] 2. A value below 25kg/m2 is considered normal although for us Malaysians with a smaller physique, the limit is brought down to below 23 kg/m2. So watch your weight, as I am sure your height will not change much, if at all!

Waist circumference

A better method of determining abdominal obesity – a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD) – is actually by putting a simple measuring tape around the waist. A waist circumference greater than 90cm (36 inches) for men and 80cm (32 inches) for women puts a person at risk of CVD. What is your waist circumference?

Blood cholesterol

Cholesterol is broadly divided into good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol. LDL leads to cholesterol buildup on the walls of the arteries whilst HDL protects by bringing cholesterol away from the plaques on the arterial walls. The normal LDL value depends on the presence or absence of certain medical conditions like diabetes and heart disease or the number of risk factors for cardiovascular disease. The normal level for LDL changes according to your risk category, ranging from 2.6mmol/L to 4.2mmol/L. For instance, if you do not have any risk factor for CVD such as smoking, hypertension and obesity, then a LDL level up to 4.2 mmol/L is acceptable. However, if you have CVD or diabetes, then the bar is lowered to 2.6 mmol/L. For HDL, the level has to be more than 1.0 mmol/L for men and 1.2 mmol/L for women. So what was your last blood cholesterol reading?

Blood glucose

Diabetes is fast becoming a global epidemic. A recent local study estimated that around one in five adults in this country have diabetes. Measurement of fasting blood glucose level can help diagnose diabetes. A fasting blood glucose level below 5.6 mmol/L is considered normal. If your level is above 7.0 mmol/L, then you have diabetes. If your fasting blood glucose level falls in between the two values then you have impaired glucose tolerance (IGT).   Doing regular blood glucose check is very important as it can help to detect IGT so that appropriate interventions can be made to prevent diabetes from developing. So when was your last blood glucose check?

Exercise time

You know that exercise is good for you but are you really doing it? What kind of exercise are you doing and how much? A crude but nevertheless useful way of measuring how much you exercise is by the amount of time you spend doing it. The general recommendation is continuous aerobic exercise (walking, jogging, swimming and cycling) for about 30 minutes a day, most days a week. How much time then did you spend exercising last week? How much is it going to be this week?

All these have numbers you can attach to them and these numbers change from time to time. There are many others that you can add to the list such as calorie intake and calories burnt, as well as sleeping and rest time. 

For once, take charge of life’s best commodity – your own health. Don’t leave it to chance. Be as fussy and meticulous as you can be. See a doctor when you are healthy, not just when you are on the sick bed. Go for regular checkups and keep a record of all the readings. Know your numbers, as your health is your best investment.

Dr Muhilan Parameswaran

Consultant Urologist
Resident Consultant
MBBS (India) , FAGE (Manipal) , MRCS (Edin) , M.S (Malaya) , Board Certified Urologist (M’sia) , FRCS (Urology) (Glaslow) , Fellow Laparascopic Surgery (India) , Fellowship in Urology (Austria)
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