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In love and good health: Opt for a medical checkup this Valentine’s Day
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In love and good health: Opt for a medical checkup this Valentine’s Day

Experts urge couples to undergo health checkups together, suggesting they work out and modify their lifestyle as a team, motivating each other
Experts urge couples to go for a health checkup this Valentine's Day to maintain their overall well-being
Akshay Sharma and his wife Sunita work out together, motivating one another and holding each other accountable.

For the past four years, Kochi-based entrepreneur Rakesh Chandran (34) has always ensured that he and his wife, Sharon Thomas (35), a design engineer, undergo health checkups twice a year. “Apart from my health, I also want first-hand assurance that Sharon is also doing well,” says Chandran, adding that they compare the results of the tests and plan any lifestyle modifications together.

Speaking about setting common goals and making lifestyle alterations, Chandran, who married his wife in 2017, shares, “For instance, both of us always have borderline high cholesterol, due to which we have made many dietary changes. After receiving our blood sugar test results, we switched to an almost no-sugar diet. We’ve also started working out in the mornings; the fact that both of us are in this together acts as a huge motivator.”

Dr Thomas Alexander, consultant interventional cardiologist, Kovai Medical Centre and Hospital, Coimbatore, says he encounters such instances very rarely. “I think our society is a male-dominated space where you often see men come in for checkups; very rarely do you see their spouses. Some women come for health checkups with their family, who believe that they need to undergo routine medical tests as they’re in her 40s or 50s,” he adds. A cohort study conducted in Denmark that analyzed more than 6.9 million people over a 21-year period found that the age of diagnosis for several complications was higher in women. Citing an example, Dr Alexander says, “If you take heart attacks, for that matter, you will see that women arrive at a hospital later than men.”

While many ponder long and hard about the perfect gift for their spouse or partner on Valentine’s Day, experts suggest a complete health checkup as an option, where the couple can undergo the tests together.

Heart health is equally important for women

Dr Alexander says women usually undergo gynecological health checkups, turning a blind eye to cardiovascular tests. “I think this Valentine’s Day, we need to emphasize that heart health is equally important for women; it’s unwise to think that only men should be concerned about heart issues,” he shares. “The complications and mortality rates are higher in women with heart problems; hence, such issues must be detected at the earliest.”

Having shared fitness goals can help

Akshay Sharma (34), a Bangalore-based engineer, and his wife Sunita (40), who’s in finance management, work out as a team. Although they don’t undergo health checkups together, they have always been mindful of each other’s health. “We cycle and go for a run together, holding each other accountable,” says Sharma.

He noticed his wife getting tired quickly during their hikes and runs; she was diagnosed with thalassemia minor a few years ago. “It basically means that her hemoglobin levels tend to be on the lower side and she experiences mild symptoms of anemia. This doesn’t affect her day-to-day life as such,” says Sharma, adding that they’ve made several dietary changes to tackle this issue. He also shares, “I always make sure that she goes out and gets the required amount of physical activity every day and she does the same for me.”

Besides improving health, working out as a team will strengthen the bond between partners, fostering collaboration and a shared sense of achievement.

Medical tests for women of varying age groups

Dr Nirmala M, consultant, obstetrician, gynecologist & fertility specialist, Motherhood Hospitals, Whitefield, Bangalore, says, “For women, different stages of life come with varying ailments and requirements; hence, it’s important to be aware of the recommended tests and screenings for each age group.”

According to her, women in their 20s should undergo regular pap smear tests every three years to screen for cervical cancer and human papillomavirus (HPV). In addition, they should also undergo a clinical breast examination following the same time interval. Those in their 30s should undergo pelvic exams, pap smear tests, cholesterol screenings and thyroid function tests. When they reach 40, they should undergo a mammogram every one to two years in addition to regular blood pressure monitoring and bone density tests.

She recommends colonoscopy, diabetes screenings and eye examinations for women in their 50s. Further, those in their 60s should undergo screenings for osteoporosis and skin cancer. “For women over the age of 60, cognitive function tests and vaccinations, including flu shots and pneumonia vaccines, are important for maintaining immunity,” she informs.

“Women need at least one baseline where they undergo a routine blood sugar and cholesterol screening, a treadmill stress test and an echocardiogram annually. However, if they’re diagnosed with any health condition, the frequency of these tests will increase,” says Dr Alexander.

Takeaways

Experts urge couples to undergo a complete health checkup this Valentine’s Day, which can play a vital role in preserving their overall well-being. They note that most men don’t bring their spouses or partners for health checkups, which needs to change at the earliest. It’s essential for women to undergo the recommended medical tests for their age group. Additionally, couples can work out and make lifestyle modifications as a team, motivating each other and holding their partner accountable.

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