There’s no replacement for routine appointments with your healthcare provider, but being in touch with your body between office visits can help you:
- Understand your risk for chronic illnesses like heart disease and diabetes
- Set wellness goals and track your progress
- Know when you should call your healthcare provider about abnormal changes
We asked Richard Carter, MD, FACS, a surgeon specializing in general and breast surgery at Henrico Doctor’s Hospital in Richmond, Virginia about simple home health checks for ladies on-the-go. Here are four DIY tests that can fit into even the busiest of schedules and help you take command of your health.
Track your blood pressure
“High blood pressure increases your risk for stroke and heart disease, which is the number one killer of women,” says Dr. Carter. High blood pressure doesn’t usually cause any symptoms, so check your numbers regularly and get help if needed. Your BP should be below 120 for the top number and less than 80 for the bottom.
Check your heart rate
“Track your heart rate over time, along with your blood pressure,” recommends Carter. It can clue you in on your overall health or tell you when it’s time to pause your cardio session.
To check your pulse, place your index and middle finger on your wrist, against the groove below your thumb. When you feel your pulse, watch a clock with second hands and count the beats for one minute. Most adults should have between 60 to 100 beats per minute. A resting heart rate over 100 could signal medical problems like anemia, so inform your healthcare provider if this is the case.
Weigh in daily
If you cringe at the thought of knowing your weight, it’s time to make amends with your scale. Women who check their weight regularly may be more likely to stick with their diet plan. According to the National Weight Control Registry, most people who lose weight and keep it off step on the scale at least weekly.
For women with heart failure, daily weigh-ins may be life-saving. Heart failure can make you retain water, which could cause fluids to back up into your lungs, keeping your body from getting the oxygen it needs. If you have heart failure, check the scale daily and call your healthcare provider if you gain two pounds overnight or four pounds in one week.
Four Simple Rules for Weighing In
Whether you’re checking your weight for medical reasons or to track fitness progress over time, keep these pointers in mind:
- Place your scale on a flat surface and use the same scale every time.
- Always weigh yourself at the same time of day – ideally first thing in the morning.
- Step on the scale after you use the bathroom, but before you eat breakfast.
- Weigh yourself with no clothes on or similar clothes each time.
Remember: The scale works for you, not the other way around – it’s not your own personal judge or the decider of your self-worth. It’s there to arm you with information so you can make the best possible decisions about your health.
Know when the time is right with an ovulation kit
Once a month, your ovaries release an egg, called ovulation. For most women, it’s around the 11th day after their period. If you’re trying to get pregnant, ovulation is the ideal time to have sex with your partner. “There are over-the-counter kits that allow you to detect the amount of luteinizing hormone in urine, which spikes when your ovaries release an egg,” says Carter.
Ovulation kits come with several sticks so you can take the test on different days. Either urinate onto a stick or place it in a cup of urine. Depending on the brand, the color may change or a plus sign may appear to indicate a positive result, which means you’ll likely ovulate within the next 24 hours.
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