My Newborn Mako and How to Easily Keep Health Records Over a Lifetime

In recent news, Ha and I welcomed our son Mako in July. Ha and Mako are doing well now, but over the last year as doctors were asking me about my health history, I realized that I really didn’t know mine. From moving to different cities across various continents, whenever there was an offer to get a shot or vaccine, I would just do it because I could never remember. I’m not even sure how I can export old records or ask for them from the different healthcare systems I’ve been in. Legally, I am entitled to these records, but it’s a big gap to getting them.

Doctors have asked me about certain conditions and issues from my past, and I’ll usually just shrug and say, “I don’t…know really.”

Now that I have Mako, I don’t want the same thing to happen to him. It’s a bit scary to realize how little I know about my own history. Thus, I’ve been working with Bitmark on their mobile app Bitmark Health – it’s an aggregator of health data. Right now, it works with importing Apple Health Kit and scans of Physical Documents, and we want to expand the feature and data support so that anyone around the world can have complete historical records for themselves, children, and family members for recordkeeping, research, and sharing with medical professionals.

Basically, no one should feel as helpless as me.

What was important to me, coming from my background as a social networking (see: Facebook / Cambridge Analytics) entrepreneur, was that Bitmark didn’t have access to your data. In Bitmark Health, the data is all stored on the user’s phone, and Bitmark digitally fingerprints this data and records your ownership as a property title on its public blockchain. None of your personal information (health records, identification information) is recorded in the blockchain.

(In case you’re not familiar with blockchain or have just heard of it from Bitcoin, Bitmark’s blockchain isn’t managed or controlled by any single entity, like a government or company. Anyone can contribute to maintaining it, and a good blockchain is incredibly resilient to hacks and changes. Unlike Wikipedia, in which anyone can make changes to records, only you can make changes or legal transfers to your health records. You also don’t need to sign up for Bitmark – your account is stored on your phone via private keys)

Right now, we’re in Beta on Apple iOS (iPhone). If this seems interesting to you, I’d love to get you in on the Beta (or on the list for the Android version) – we appreciate any feedback (what works well, what doesn’t, what features you personally need to make it useful). If you know anyone who would be interested, I’d love to talk to them about our work too – please share!

Just click on our sign up link here, and we’ll get everything ready.

I’ll leave you with a photo of teaching Mako to love broccoli (as I do) below.

I appreciate it,

Michael

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Reaching 90th Percentile Resting Heart Rate [Fitness with Fitbit]

I have been using the Fitbit Surge for the past couple of months after receiving one as a gift from my sister. Overall, the product works reasonably well, but its step counter isn’t so good if you play basketball or do crunches – dribbling with your left hand and doing crunches will increase the step counter, resulting in wildly inaccurate distance and possibly calorie measures.

Regardless, I like the heart rate function, and I assume this is something that can be counted on even if the pedometer is wrong – despite recent lawsuits on Fitbit’s heart rate tracking accuracy, I trust this Consumer Reports article, Taking the Pulse of Fitbit’s Contested Heart Rate Monitors, from January. After the first few weeks, my heart rate went down from 68 to 56, where it has remained so for almost a month.

However, I wanted to know what this actually meant, and how this compared to other people.

Real information on resting heart rate is difficult to find. There are many articles, but few that have actual sourcing (this is true of most food / nutrition articles as well) on why we can trust the information. Thus, I began to look into percentiles, and I found the following data (it would be nice if Fitbit allowed its community to share this information in aggregate for public comparison) from the Canadian government:

Average resting heart rate, by age and sex, household population, Canada, 2009 to 2011

Resting Heart Rate Percentiles
Resting Heart Rate Percentiles – Statistics Canada

From this chart, I am at the 90th percentile (top 10% of all males my age group) in resting heart rate. I am not sure what this all means, but I am guessing that because my heart has to pump less on average, I have a combination of a stronger heart, more efficient lungs, and less excess fat that blood has to pump around.

Currently, I do not work out as much as I would like (my knees really swell up after basketball), but I do the following workouts per week, along with my lower carb diet. Ideally, I would like to add bicycling and swimming (once a week) for lower stress workouts later on.

  1. 2 basketball practice workouts (30 minutes dribbling, 1 hr shooting)
  2. 1 basketball playing session (2.5 hrs on average)
  3. 3 sessions, roughly 500 crunches (60 straight, 110 bicycle alternating x 3)

Another Look at Cholesterol Tests [Health Fallacies]

Having read and written about The Great Cholesterol Myth, it had actually been a while since I had taken a test and could understand my results.

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When I got this last week, I was of course worried. (H Flags denote issues) I had been on a (lower) carb diet since 2013, and in the process had dropped over 20 pounds. For the most part I do not eat rice, bread, potatoes, or drink soda or beer, though if I am being social or go out to eat, I consume more of all those. During the last year at Kellogg, I have not been the best at working out (during the Fall, I occasionally played basketball and swam, during the winter, I did nothing and broke my finger during basketball, during the Spring, I swam), but I wondered if I was just super stressed out (I feel reasonably fine) or if I was doomed for heart problems down the road. After a restless night, I remembered that the book argued that traditional cholesterol benchmarks were based on faulty research(read the book to see the extensive history of traditional cholesterol tests and disproving research), and I needed to check my findings with the book’s.

If, for example, your triglycerides are 150 mg/dL and your HDL is 50 mg/dL, you have a ratio of 3 (150:50). If your triglycerides are 100 mg/dL and your HDL is 50 mg/dL, you have a ratio of 2 (100:50). This ratio is a far better predictor of heart disease than cholesterol ever was. In one study out of Harvard published in Circulation, a journal published by the American Heart Association, those who had the highest triglyceride-to-HDL ratios had a whopping sixteen times the risk of developing heart disease as those with the lowest ratios.1 If you have a ratio of around 2, you should be happy, indeed, regardless of your cholesterol levels. (A ratio of 5, however, is problematic.)

My Triglycerides : HDL ratio is .84, well below the happy ratio of 2, where the lower ratio is best. WIN!

A cholesterol level of LDL 160 mg/dL or less has been linked to depression, aggression, cerebral hemorrhages, and loss of sex drive.

My LDL is 172. WIN! (The book explains that cholesterol drugs lower LDL, are actually inflammatory drugs, and that memory loss is a side effect of these drugs)

Triglyceride levels higher than 120 mg/dL and HDL levels below normal (less than 40 mg/dL in men and less than 50 mg/dL in women) are usually associated with the small, dense, atherogenic LDL particles you don’t want!

I am both well beyond these levels (Triglycerides is 63 < 120, HDL is 75 > 40). WIN!

Thus, now I can feel a lot better about things. The only thing I wish I had gotten was a LDL particle size test, which was not included in my physical results. If you need help interpreting your results or in better understanding cholesterol’s impact on health, definitely check out The Great Cholesterol Myth or my blog post about 10 Things to Learn from the book!