Would you want to identify potential issues with your health before they happen? If due to your genetic makeup you had a higher chance of contracting a potentially life-altering disease like cancer, Parkinson’s, or Alzheimer’s – would you want to know? With these questions in mind, Matt, Brian, and their spouses recently underwent tests to establish their baseline health and sequence their genome to determine if they are predisposed to higher health risks due to their genetics. All of this was done at a local San Diego company and we thought we would share the experience with you from Matt and Brian’s perspective below.
Today much of healthcare is reactive and retrospective. Health Nucleus is setting out to change that model. Health Nucleus, a clinical research program of Human Longevity Inc., was founded with the goal of making healthcare proactive, preventative, and personalized – they are attempting to predict what diseases you are likely to develop thereby helping you prevent them in the first place. Their ability to better monitor your health for future diseases is available due to the technologies they use: whole genome sequencing, machine learning, and improved imaging technologies. The end goal of these tests and measurements is to deliver a complete picture of your health.
Health Nucleus offers packages with various levels of tests, but the tests that we opted for given our ages and our seemingly good health was their CORE assessment package. This package screens for many types of cancer, cardiac disease, metabolic disease, and neurodegenerative disease through a full body MRI, a heart CT scan, blood work, and whole genome sequencing.
We were asked to fast the night before and when we arrived were taken into a private room which includes a bathroom, couch, chairs, television, plenty of snacks and beverages for your time there. It reminded us of a nice hotel room without the bed. We were asked to change into a t-shirt and scrub pants while going through the various tests. We were able to move at our own pace and we were escorted from our private rooms to every test. We did not see any other patients as they value privacy and carefully coordinate when they are taking patients through the halls to the various screening rooms. Over the course of about three to four hours, we had our vitals taken, blood drawn, did a CT scan, and a full body and brain MRI. The full body MRI is the lengthiest process and we were offered breaks between each of the MRI scanning sessions. Once the imaging was received, we met with a radiologist the same day to review preliminary results.
The results of the tests were sent to us in a secure portal with a summary of all findings, as well as detailed reports for all of the areas tested. We met with a doctor to review the findings and determine actions that may be available for treatment of any issues identified.
The good news for us is that no major health issues were identified. Matt learned of two unique genes that he has that create heightened risk for things that may occur during or after a surgery. Having never had surgery, Matt is now armed with this important genetic information that can be shared with a surgeon prior to a procedure, rather than learning the hard way that certain medications might be counterproductive based on his genetic markers. Brian particularly appreciated the genomic clinical report. Brian’s maternal grandfather had Parkinson’s and Brian was always curious if that might be something to which his genetic makeup would indicate he was at a higher risk for later in life. The report provided peace of mind for Brian as that was not identified as a risk.
Health Nucleus also identified areas that we could work on to improve our health. If left unchanged, these areas may lead to bigger health challenges later in life. While some of these issues may not be prevalent now, the reports showed that our genetic makeup puts us at higher risk to contract some of these diseases as we age, thus allowing us to watch for those specific risks. Finally, the results also provided a pharmacogenomics report indicating which prescription drugs may have to be modified if we ever take them due to our genomic makeup so that they are more effective.
There is no magic elixir that is going to make you live longer (at least not yet!), and that was not the point of doing the health screenings. We both approached this with the idea that we may be able to identify health challenges now which would allow us both to live healthier lives. Before we committed to this, we discussed whether we would want to know if we had ______ (fill in the blank) disease or were pre-disposed to a genetic mutation for which there is no cure. At the end of the day we both decided that we would rather know now because it would allow us to live intentionally and possibly adjust habits today to do whatever we could to live a healthy life. Much like financial plans providing peace of mind, we found that the health reports also provided peace of mind, which for two “numbers” guys is hard to quantify!
If you are interested in learning more about our experience, please let us know as we are happy to share more. We hope you may take some time to think about your health and consider adopting a healthier lifestyle to lead the life you choose.
CCMI provides personalized fee-only financial planning and investment management services to business owners, professionals, individuals and families in San Diego and throughout the country. CCMI has a team of CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM professionals who act as fiduciaries, which means our clients’ interests always come first.
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