Vim & Vigor - Fall 2017 - University of Virginia - 4

7SCREENINGS

BASIC HEALTH

Everyone Should Have
Confused about screenings? A UVA primary
care physician reviews some common checks
to keep track of your disease risk

D

iabetes and obesity are
occurring more frequently
-and at even younger
ages-among populations
across the U.S. Given the health hazards
associated with these conditions, it's
important to talk to your doctor about
screening and prevention.
Paul Targonski, MD, PhD, is a UVA
primary care physician and epidemiologist who serves as director for Clinical
Research Initiatives in the Department
of Public Health Sciences. Here, he
explains some common screenings
doctors may use to keep track of your
risk for chronic diseases.

Triglycerides

Triglycerides are
a type of fat used to store unused
calories in the body for later use as
energy. While cholesterol is also a fat,
it is more frequently used to build
cells and molecules in the body. High
levels of triglycerides have been linked
to an increased risk for heart problems,
stroke and blood vessel disease.

High-Density Lipoprotein
(HDL) HDL is a transport molecule

that primarily moves fat out of
cells, importantly out of the cells
associated with blood vessel walls,
where fat accumulation can lead to

4

FA L L 2017

atherosclerosis. Higher HDL levels
protect against heart disease.

Low-Density Lipoprotein
(LDL) LDL represents a group of

molecules comprising fat and protein
in varying proportions that move fat
around the body to be taken up by cells.
In general, too much is not good-
more LDL usually means a higher risk
of more fat in blood vessel walls and
higher risks for heart attacks and stroke,
among other bad outcomes.

Glucose

Glucose is the sugar most
often used as energy in the body. Once
absorbed from a meal, the sugar goes
into the bloodstream and is called blood
glucose. Doctors check blood glucose
levels to test for diabetes. Insulin is a
hormone that moves glucose into the
body's cells for conversion to energy
or storage. Problems with insulin
production and blood glucose levels
are characteristics of prediabetes and
diabetes.

Hemoglobin A1c This measures
the amount of sugar in our oxygencarrying molecules, called hemoglobin,
which are transported throughout the
body in red blood cells. The more sugar
in our blood, the more sugar gets built

into the hemoglobin molecules. The red
blood cells that carry those hemoglobin
molecules live about four months, so we
look at hemoglobin A1c as an estimate
of average sugar levels over the past
approximately three months.

Patient Health Questionnaire
This is given in the doctor's office as
either a two- or nine-question survey
called the PHQ-2 or PHQ-9 to determine
if you may have depressive symptoms.
But don't wait for your doctor to ask you;
always tell him or her if you are feeling
depressed, moody, irritable or thinking
about hurting yourself or others. When
you're feeling hopeless, don't hesitate
to call the National Suicide Prevention
Lifeline 800-273-TALK (8255).

Social Determinants of
Health Medicine is increasingly

recognizing how social factors
influence health. Doctors are starting
to ask questions about food safety,
transportation, financial security
and protection from personal and
neighborhood violence when exploring
a patient's health and wellness. Referrals
to resources in the community can
often help. ■



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vim & Vigor - Fall 2017 - University of Virginia

Contents
Vim & Vigor - Fall 2017 - University of Virginia - Cover1
Vim & Vigor - Fall 2017 - University of Virginia - Cover2
Vim & Vigor - Fall 2017 - University of Virginia - Contents
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