You may have heard the old adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” And if you haven’t you certainly know that kids are frequently reminded, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Well, this is certainly the modus operandi of preventive care – to keep illness and disease away in the first place! Think about it - would you rather deal with the costly stress and heart-ache of illness or would you rather take simple actions now and avoid dealing with disease altogether? Get the scoop on preventive care, the conditions that it can help with, and some simple pointers for prevention!
So, what is preventive care exactly?
Most likely, when you think of healthcare, you think of the resources available in case you get sick or need treatment for something. We go through our day-to-day with our own schedules and habits. When things go wrong, it’s only then that we rely on our trusted doctors and healthcare professionals to get us back on our feet – typically at an expense. But preventive care is different. Basically, it’s a proactive approach involving screenings, check-ups, and a big emphasis on lifestyle modification. It aims to prevent chronic conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease at both an individual and societal level. Recently, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association joined forces and unveiled the “Top Ten Take-Home Messages for Primary Prevention” – of which we will being doing a deep-dive into each message through an upcoming blog series. Stay tuned!
Why is it important?
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 7 out of 10 of deaths are attributable to these chronic conditions and are responsible for 75% of national healthcare spending. Annual healthcare costs are $2,000 higher for smokers, $1,400 higher for those who are obese, and $6,600 higher for those who have diabetes. Preventive care is crucial for eliminating excessive costs but also important for living longer, healthier lives. What’s more is that many of these chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease are largely preventable or can be detected through routine screenings making treatment much easier.
Unfortunately, many people are not taking advantage of this side of our healthcare system. According to recent data, only 8% of U.S. adults are utilizing highly recommended screening services that could have the highest benefit to their health. What if only 8% of the U.S. population had regular maintenance on their cars? We would see cars breaking down everywhere! It’s no wonder that chronic conditions account for 71% of deaths globally.
What does preventative care mean for you?
It’s just as important to visit your doctor when you are healthy as it is when you are not. This will allow your doctor to guide you in screening for diseases, updating your vaccinations, discuss your medications and supplements, and encourage behavioral changes that we at SpeckHealth like to call Therapeutic Lifestyle Choices. Depending on the individual, certain preventive screenings may include:
- Blood pressure
- Blood Sugar
- Cholesterol Levels
- Colon Cancer Screening
- Osteoporosis Screening
- Genetic Testing
Away from the doctor’s office, we encourage patients to engage in Therapeutic Lifestyle Choices such as:
- Engaging at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week (unless contraindicated).
- Don’t use or quit using tobacco.
- Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Getting the right quantity and quality of sleep.
- And many more.
The bottom line: Preventive care is critical for ensuring a long, healthy life – even if you already have a chronic illness. Schedule a visit with your doctor today to discuss what preventive measures that would be beneficial for you. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog series on the “Top Ten Take-home Messages for Primary Prevention”!
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