For health tests, stick to the gold standard

For health tests, stick to the gold standard
World-renown cardiologist and inventor of the sitting-rising test (SRT), Prof Claudio, showing how sitting down and standing up can save lives.

The sitting-rising test is indeed an excellent test of a person's balance, muscle strength and flexibility ("Sit, stand, work out how long you'll live"; June 3).

But I have my reservations about the test as a gauge of an individual's fitness and a predictor of longevity.

Younger people, who are naturally more sprightly and lithe, with a better balance, will naturally do far better in this test.

Obviously, the young also have longer to live than the old.

The most common causes of death among Singaporeans are cardiovascular and cerebrovascular events resulting from atherosclerotic diseases (involving the arteries), cancer, and, for the elderly, the complications of fractures after falls.

Tracking simple indicators and indices for these diseases gives a far better idea as to how fit and healthy we are than the sitting-rising test.

For instance, people whose abdominal girth is more than half their height and men whose abdominal circumference is more than their chest's are demonstrably more likely to suffer from central obesity and die from atherosclerotic diseases, as with an unfavourable body mass index.

The Health Promotion Board has a very informative website detailing screening tests for atherosclerosis, cancer and osteoporosis. People should screen for these.

Clever tests are just amusing innovative tests that establish interesting casual relationships. When our health and our lives are at stake, go for the gold standard tests.

This article was first published on June 16, 2015.
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