It’s American Heart Month, and as someone who has always been attuned to heart health, due to a family history of cardiovascular issues, I find it important to remind us all that we should pause to take care of ourselves.
I’ve always been very active, played sports, and tried to eat well. I’m not perfect, but that wouldn’t be much fun anyway. We all have to find balance to take proper care of ourselves, but also live our lives in a way that still lets us enjoy life to the fullest.
A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to visit an executive health clinic and undergo a thorough annual wellness exam. As part of that exam, I had a broad range of blood testing performed. On the surface, I was healthy. My routine physical exam raised no concerns, my electrocardiogram was normal, and the physical tests showed no indication of any issues. About a week later, my blood testing results came back and there were some metrics that surprised my physician given the other physical exam results. My vitamin B (B-12 & Folate) levels were low and my homocysteine levels were elevated.
Armed with that knowledge, my physician recommended I have some basic genetic testing done and it uncovered that I had mutations at two different points in the MTHFR gene. Mutations in this gene have an established link to increased risk of some of the cardiovascular issues in my family history and are directly linked to the abnormal blood testing results I had seen on my report.
Long story short, this powerful information led me to seek out a healthcare professional that has helped guide me towards certain supplementation that provides the important B vitamins in a form that my body can process. Taking this vitamin has allowed me to rebalance my system, and now my blood metrics look commensurate with all other results. The crux of the story here, is that access to the right types of blood metric testing would allow individuals to proactively address risk factors through preventive measures rather than waiting for some future acute event.
In this journey, the primary frustration was, and continues to be, the limited access I have to my own data. When I was actually able to get the data, after much time spent chasing it down, it was sent through the mail on a USB stick with paper copies of the lab reports. In this day and age when everything is at the touch of a button, our healthcare data remains one of the most difficult things to obtain in a simple fashion.
How do we help people take charge of their own healthcare journey? People who want access to their data will find a way to get access, whether it’s in collaboration with their healthcare provider, or whether they seek it out through direct to consumer avenues. I think what we all have to be comfortable with is that most consumers who get access to their data will not try to intervene on their own but rather, as I did, seek out a healthcare professional with the right expertise to help understand the data and what actions can be taken to have a positive impact on one’s health. If we are worried about people not knowing where to go to get help interpreting their data, let’s focus on how we make it easier for them to find the right healthcare professional who can provide the type of valuable input I was able to receive.
Convenience and access to testing should be easier than it is today. While we alone can’t fix the industry, Truvian’s aim is to help break down some of these barriers, and we are proud to be an advocate for all consumers looking to shape their own health journey.