Several key laboratory tests have a prominent place on Oprah Winfrey’s “Ultimate Checklist” for a healthy life. Oprah, long a champion of personal accountability for one’s own health, kicked off the New Year with a focus on health improvement through self-help activities. It is another example of how consumers are being educated about the importance of using laboratory tests as guideposts to improve their health.

With a theme of “Best Life Week”, Oprah featured her medical expert Dr. Oz and his advice on how people can get healthy and peel years off their bodies. Laboratory tests play a prominent role in Dr. Oz’s “Ten Step Ultimate Health Checklist. Under step five, “Know Your Numbers”, Oprah urged her listeners to pay attention to five laboratory tests:

  • Cholesterol, with LDL less than 100 and HDL greater than 40
  • Blood sugar
  • Vitamin D
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH)

Also included in the “Know Your Numbers” step were recommendations to check waist size and monitor both blood pressure and heart rate.

Other recommendations in the “Ultimate Health Checklist” were to get a medical check-up; recruiting a health advocate; securing a copy of personal medical records; and getting diagnostic and preventive medical tests and screenings on time.

Oprah’s promotion of Dr. Oz and his recommendations for better improving personal health makes for good ratings. Lab administrators and pathologists should take that as a sign that consumers are interested in healthcare. Another sign of how important television has become as a source of health information is the selection of CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent, Sanjay Gupta, M.D. to be Surgeon General in the new administration. Expanding media coverage of health and wellness topics plays to the strength of medical laboratories. Media coverage of health issues creates an opportunity for laboratories piggyback on this interest and market directly to consumers. – P. Kirk

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