Wouldn’t you be much more apt to schedule that annoying yearly physical if your doctor could just give you a quick once-over glance and check a box that said “healthy” or “unhealthy?” It’d be fast, pain-free, and non-invasive.
Not to mention inaccurate.
Just because you look healthy is no indication that you actually are healthy. For instance, you could be thin as a rail and still have high cholesterol or high blood pressure. You could also be overweight yet anorexic, like these teens. Or you could look fit as a fiddle but really be suffering from hidden heart disease.
A recent study showed women who looked healthy were often underdiagnosed with the leading causes of heart problems. “Looking healthy” not only includes weight, but being well groomed and put together. So if you really want your doctor to pay attention, maybe you should forget to brush your hair and wear mismatched pajamas to your appointment.
Women are more than 50% less likely to be diagnosed and treated for atrial fibrillation (a-fib for you Grey’s Anatomy fans) than men. Atrial fibrillation is the most common abnormal heart rhythm found in women and it’s one of the main causes of strokes. That means over half of women that have a-fib aren’t getting early treatment that could make a difference between life and death, just because they “looked fine.” This might make you think you’re better off looking fat, but that doesn’t work either.
This abnormal heart rhythm often lacks symptoms, but affects as many as 1 in 14 people over the age of 65. When it does show symptoms they include chest pain, palpitations, and fainting. Even without symptoms, it’s an easy condition for doctors to check for. They can feel your pulse, take your blood pressure, and evaluate your risk for other diseases like diabetes. Treatment typically involves a drug that stops clots from reaching your heart, which can trigger heart attacks and strokes. Women are half as likely to get these medications as men.
Who knew looking healthy could actually backfire? Maybe the point of all this is that we should all be trying to be healthier, not just waiting for someone to treat us based on how we look or don’t look.