You don’t have to wait until your next doctor’s appointment to find out if you need to work on your health.
PLEASE NOTE: None of these tests are meant to diagnose or replace your regular checkups. PWDs may have other health problems, like eye disease, kidney disease, nerve disease, and heart disease, so it’s important to see your health care team regularly. But these tests can help you keep tabs on your health between appointments.
1 WAIST-TO-HIP RATIO
Why do it: The more overweight you are, the more resistant to insulin you are, which can lead to type 2 diabetes or worsen your diabetes. Yet the problem isn’t always how much fat
you’re carrying but where that fat accumulates. The type of fat around your belly is most associated with insulin resistance and heart disease.
How to do it: Wrap a tape measure around the narrowest part of your waist (belly) and log your measurement; then measure your hips at the widest part. Divide waist circumference by hip circumference. If under age 60, women should be under 0.86, men under 0.95.
2 TRACK WEIGHT
Why do it: Many things could cause unexplained weight gain. For people with prediabetes, it could mean a progression to diabetes or worsening insulin resistance. If you have diabetes, both weight gain and weight loss could reflect worsening pancreatic function. Certain meds can also cause you to put on pounds, so talk with our doctor. More concerning causes of weight gain may be fluid retention as a result of heart failure, worsening kidney function, and
How to do it: Unless you’re trying to lose weight—some studies suggest that daily weighing is best— jump on a scale weekly. Weigh in at the same time of day, preferably right away in the morning and without clothes.
3 RESTING HEART RATE
Why do it: Having a higher resting heart rate (RHR)—your heart rate while in a resting position—could increase your risk of diabetes. One study from the International Journal of
Epidemiology found that each additional 10 beats per minute increased diabetes risk by 23 per cent. People with the highest risk had an RHR of 80 or more beats per minute (BPM). Studies also show elevated RHR is a risk for heart disease.
How to do it: Before getting out of bed in the morning or after resting for five minutes, find your pulse with your fingers on your neck or wrist and count your heartbeat for one minute. Do this several times and average the numbers. If your RHR is above 80 BPM, make exercise a bigger priority. Over-the-counter home-use tests allow you to check for some diseases and conditions in private. As with glucose tests, you can share results with your doc.
4 THYROID TEST
Why do it: Millions don’t realise they have an underactive thyroid—a gland that produces hormones that help fuel your body’s energy tanks. The condition is more prevalent in PWDs and can heighten diabetes complications. Symptoms of underactive thyroid include fatigue, depression, being overweight, dry hair and skin, brittle nails, high cholesterol, blood pressure problems, low libido, constipation, and intolerance to hot or cold temperatures.
How to do it: Grab a glass of water and handheld mirror. With the mirror in your hand, look at the lower front area of your neck, above your collarbone and below your voice box, which is where your thyroid gland is located. Keep your eyes on this spot as you tip your head back
and swallow a sip of water. Do you see any bulges or protrusions close to your collarbone when you swallow? If you’re not sure or you’re focusing on your Adam’s apple, try again. If you do see something, it could be a sign of an enlarged thyroid or a nodule that should be checked. However, you can have thyroid disease without this symptom. The best check of thyroid function is a blood test at the doctor’s office.
5 BP CHECK
Why do it: High blood pressure might be dubbed the silent killer, but low blood pressure comes with its own consequences: poor circulation, slow healing, and overall low energy.
How to do it: Be aware of how you’re feeling when you stand. Light-headed? Call your doc to get checked. In the meantime, do a quick test with an at-home blood pressure monitor (get one at the pharmacy). After sitting for five minutes, check your blood pressure. Do the same after standing. If you notice a drop of about 10 mmHg in the systolic (upper) number from sitting to standing, it could indicate blood pressure issues.
6 KIDNEY FUNCTION
Why do it: Changes in urine in PWDs or prediabetes might signal future kidney issues. Your doc will do a urine test to check for protein leaking in the urine along with a blood test to measure kidney function at least once a year. If excess protein is detected in urine, it will warrant further evaluation, follow-up studies, extra care watching kidney blood readings, and possibly med changes.
How to do it: It’s difficult to spot changes in your urine at home, but three things should prompt you to call your health care provider: spotting, foam, or blood in your urine.