To assess factors in your life that might put you at risk for developing certain types of disease, your doctor might have you compete a health risk assessment (HRA).
An HRA usually starts with a questionnaire. You can also find many different types of these questionnaires online.
At the end of the questionnaire, you will be given a score, and information on what you should do next, depending on this score. These tests are only as accurate as the information you enter, so you have to be as honest and accurate as possible.
Some tests are very basic, and don't tell you much at all. But if you have concerns, a test like this can tell you if you should go see your doctor. Online tests should not be treated as advice from a doctor.
Some HRA questionnaires deal with a specific disease, to evaluate how much at risk you are for developing that particular condition, while others are more general.
Basic questions you may be asked include:
Many diseases share the same risk factors. The top of the list for most diseases include age, gender, diet and exercise.
There is nothing you can do about age and gender, but eating a healthy diet and keeping up a regular exercise routine can go a long way in preventing many diseases.
Alcohol, tobacco and drugs also contribute to many diseases, and are risk factors you can control. The more you can cut these out of your life, the better, especially tobacco and drugs.
An occasional drink is actually considered beneficial for lowering your risk of developing heart disease, having a stroke or high blood pressure.
Studies show that an occasional drink (about two drinks per day for men, and one a day for women) reduces your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. However, any amounts over that will greatly increase your risk.
Family health history is another big factor in determining your health risks.
Not all conditions are hereditary, but if there are health issues in your immediate family, it could mean that there may be some weak or defective genes somewhere in your family history.
Just like genes that determine your hair and eye color can skip generations, defective or weak genes can too. That is why the farther back in your family history a doctor can go, the better he will be able to assess your health risks for various diseases.
Just being at risk for a disease does not mean you will develop the condition. Often people with several high risk factors never get sick at all, while people with very low risk factors do.
For example, smoking is considered a high risk factor for just about every disease, but many smokers live past the age of 100.
This doesn't mean that you can
continue to smoke just because some people don't get lung cancer or
heart disease. It is just an example of how being at risk is not a death
Preventing a disease is much easier than trying to cure it once it has begun to develop.
A few simple lifestyle changes will greatly reduce your chances of developing a wide variety of diseases. New studies about the importance of exercise examined people that spent most of their day sitting.
A sedentary lifestyle not only leads to obesity, but it weakens the heart. The heart doesn't have to work so hard, therefore it learns to work less and less. Over time, even the simplest tasks will leave you out of breath, and become too difficult to perform.
Maintaining an active lifestyle requires proper nutrition. The more active you are, the more food you need to keep up your strength.
Satisfy your hunger with healthy snacks, and before you know it, you have changed an unhealthy lifestyle into a healthy one.
An active lifestyle also reduces your cravings for cigarettes and alcohol, lowering your health risks even more.