Thinking Of Investing In Your Healthcare? Genomics Can Be The Starting Point
Personal genomics is all about ensuring you are empowered with the right information about your health at the right time.
In the past few decades, we’ve seen big advancements in healthcare and preventive care in India. Yet, according to a recent WHO report, 63 per cent of all deaths in the country are from non-communicable diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic respiratory disease, and diabetes, many of which could potentially be prevented or controlled better if caught early.
Dozens of new diagnostic chains, hospitals with state-of-the-art facilities, and a veritable explosion of health and fitness apps and wearable fitness trackers have flooded the market with more options for preventive care than ever before. But has this changed how you manage your health as an individual? Do you have a 5-year plan for health improvement or is the focus on managing the here and now? The time is right to switch from run-of-the-mill one size fits all preventive checks to something tailor-made to you. Something that will help you lay firm ground for any health challenges that come your way in the years ahead.
Health is on the radar but are we looking in the right places?
There are an estimated 90 million health-conscious individuals in India; a term used in one survey to identify affluent urban Indians in their 20s and 30s who had awareness of and interest in preventing lifestyle-linked health problems. And this subset of the population is set to hit 130 million by next year.
With organizations mandating annual health checks and a growing awareness and the availability of facilities changing the landscape of preventive healthcare, individuals are in a great position to take charge of their health. Done regularly this can help catch early-stage and pre-symptomatic disease and allow you to treat or control the problem before it gets worse. Unfortunately, what such checks may not help with is early primary prevention - before a disease or condition takes hold at all, before indicators begin to even signal a brewing problem. These routine health checks are also often very broad in their focus and might not include specific target areas that you’re more at risk of. So how do we cross that hurdle and get the answers we really need, in time? Personal genomics may be the key.
How to start on your health improvement journey
When it comes to health, timing is everything. You need to get the right information at the right time to be more in control of your health. For instance, catching an overly high number on a blood report may indicate an existing health problem or one that’s imminent. The course of action then becomes all about damage containment and treatment.
Compare that to an early assessment of your risk where you know that your genes and medical history put you at greater risk of say, cardiovascular disease. This will mean you schedule more extensive cardiac health checks that may not be part of regular health checks. You can also take charge of problematic lifestyle factors to prevent them from contributing to the risk further.
Early risk assessment to control lifestyle factors
With the number of people with lifestyle-related diseases in India slated to rise to 1,060 million by 2022, it’s something that all of us need to take seriously. Lifestyle plays a huge part in both the risk of developing non-communicable diseases and in keeping them in check once already diagnosed. In particular, a lack of physical activity, tobacco use, a poor/unhealthy diet and excessive alcohol intake are some lifestyle factors that could bring on elevated blood pressure, raised glucose levels, and high cholesterol levels besides increasing risk of being overweight or obese.
If you know your risk of developing a certain health problem was high because of your genetic risk assessment - you might then quit smoking or exercise more actively or take health supplements for deficiencies that might otherwise elevate your risk.
Keep your sheep in line!
Traditional diagnostic results are not unlike discovering a sheep that’s escaped the pen on a routine broad sweep of the grounds. It might indicate that the gate is open and depending on how soon you notice that runaway sheep, several more may have already escaped before you close the gate. Routine diagnostic tests alert you to an issue like an escaped sheep or broken gate after the fact. When the damage may be more extensive.
Compare that to doing a check that identifies a loose latch or weak plank on the gate of the holding pen. It could mean you check the gate is fixed and prevent any sheep from escaping at all! Personal genomics does exactly this for your health. A loose latch doesn’t mean the gate will give way but allows you to reinforce things to avoid a future issue or conduct regular checks to ensure a problem is spotted early.
Personal genomics is all about ensuring you are empowered with the right information about your health at the right time. Taking the actual test is easy and totally painless, making it one of the best things you could do for investing in your future health.
How it works
Order/book your personal genomics test
Collect a saliva sample as per instructions
Register your sample pickup request, get it collected from your doorstep
Receive your personalized detailed genetic profile report
You could opt to speak to a genetic counselor to understand the results and consult your doctor about the next steps if any
This is science at its best, leveraging the latest that the field of diagnostics, genomics, healthcare, and technology has to offer.
Going back to the statistics on deaths from non-communicable diseases, it is now clear that many of the complications and deaths in the country may well be preventable. The risk of coronary artery disease is likely to be as high as 21.4 per cent in diabetics and 11 per cent among the non-diabetic population in India, according to some studies. Early diagnosis improves the effectiveness and success rates of treatment and also increases survival rates in many instances, even for potentially fatal illnesses like cancer.
How our stories play out will depend on how proactive we are in taking charge of our health at this moment. We have at our disposal for the first time in a long while, a new way of predicting ailments. Are we ready to make the most of it?