Blood tests are an invaluable measure of our health. But for those who are squeamish, it’s a daunting prospect. Luckily, at-home finger-prick tests have revolutionised the process and are easily accessible to anyone who wants to truly understand what's going on in their body.
Ian, 57, fully understood the importance of taking blood tests when he suffered from a heart attack 5 years ago. He monitored his condition with an annual test, but when he came down with COVID, he was concerned by the slow speed at which he recovered.
With a troubling family history of heart conditions, he decided it was time to take matters into his own hands and ordered a blood test from Numan.
We caught up with him to ask about his experience with taking the test.
Why did you decide to take a blood test?
The annual blood tests were great but I was curious to know more. I was finding it difficult to prize detailed information from the blood tests on the NHS - something I knew Numan offered. I wanted to gain insight into what else I should be doing to take care of my health. It really all comes down to the fact that it took me 13 days to recover from COVID. I wanted to look into it and see if there was anything else a blood test might show up. Do I need to exercise more? Do I have a vitamin deficiency? That kind of thing. It struck me that it was a perfectly sensible way to approach it. I knew from reading about Numan that I was going to get the answers that I wanted - and I did.
What interested you about the blood tests at Numan?
I’ve got a genetic heart problem and a family history of heart conditions. When my father visited me in hospital, I found out that my uncles had died of heart failure at a young age. They all died before I was born, so I never knew. Suddenly I have this entire side of the family with huge heart problems. The whole situation sparked something off in me.
I’ve been incredibly careful with my diet and exercise and all that kind of stuff but over lockdown, we were faced with a completely different situation. Everything was considerably harder to do and I knew my diet had gone completely haywire just because we were getting whatever food that we could sort, rather than having the luxury of picking and choosing.
And my father himself, although he’s been perfectly fine and his brother was fine from a heart point of view, both of them have other issues. My uncle died from a particular form of cancer that wasn’t very nice and my father has an aortic aneurysm, so a similar kind of problem, just a build-up of plaque in a different place to his heart. It was a problem that was running deep within my family tree so I was keen to see - in terms of cholesterol and various other things - if there was anything I should pay more attention to and if I needed to adjust my diet further.
How have the results shaped your choices about your health?
I wanted to understand why it had taken so long for me to recover from COVID - and I got the answer. The blood test results came back with a significant deficiency in vitamin D, which is the basis of the immune system. It meant that I probably went into COVID with a low-functioning immune system. That explains why it took me twice as long to shake it off as everybody else. So I’ve been following the recommendations to fix that issue.
It also informed ways to adjust my diet - I found I needed to drink more water and monitor quantities of olive oil to prevent the build-up of HDL cholesterol.
Effectively, this blood test was a baseline so I can run the tests again in the future to see how things are, and the effects of the adjustments I’m making.
What advice would you give to someone who’s interested in an at-home blood test?
Your title is perfect really, Fear Nothing. It isn’t something to be frightened of and it’s incredibly important to know these kinds of things. For the cost, the value is many times more. It could tell you something vital about your health and how to address the issue.
Unfortunately, it’s quite true - and I’m counting myself in this same category until I had the heart attack - most men shy away from dealing with their health. I think women are much better at facing the fact that you need to keep an eye on things, check things out, keep on top of certain health conditions. For me, I went from being perfectly healthy to being in hospital and needing treatment with risky survival chances. It gave me a wake-up call. I realised that if I’d taken the blood test 5 years earlier, I might not have been in that position.
I mean, it was trivial compared to what some people go through but having a heart attack was a smack around the face. I’ve got a teenage daughter and I want to be around for all sorts of things yet. It makes much more sense to do this kind of thing pre-emptively rather than trying to put things right after. A lot of people would benefit. Just go for it.