The Importance Of Preventative Healthcare

Preventative Health Care

Many chronic diseases can be a life alerting burdens for patients that hugely impact their quality of life. While it may be easy to write off these diseases as bad genetics or simply bad luck, the truth is that most can be prevented. Healthy lifestyles paired with preventative healthcare screening measures can dramatically reduce the risk of chronic disease. 

Why Does It Matter?

But what is preventative healthcare? According to the CDC, there are three stages of preventive care:

  • Primary prevention: Intervening before a disease occurs through lifestyle changes
  • Secondary prevention: Early detection and treatment of a disease at an early stage 
  • Tertiary prevention: Managing disease to slow or stop its progression

Preventative care at any stage is essential to a healthy life. Preventing chronic diseases or catching problems early on can significantly improve your long-term health and increase your lifespan. Practicing preventative care methods can also decrease the cost associated with healthcare by avoiding costly prescriptions, doctor visits, and surgeries that often come with a chronic disease. 

What Screenings Do I Need?

However, the use of preventative strategies is still low in the United States. The US has the lowest life expectancy compared to 10 similar high-income nations. While a large portion of this disparity is due to the relative cost of health care in the US, it is important to understand and educate yourself on what preventative screening is recommended at each stage. For example, a person in their 20s would want to regularly see a family doctor, dentist, dermatologist, and gynecologist. Once they reach their 30s, the addition of cholesterol tests and other blood work is highly recommended. By their 40s, mammograms or regular prostate exams should also be completed annually. Open discussions with your doctor can ease some of the knowledge burdens and help you understand the right preventative care that makes sense for you. 

What Else Can I Do?

While regular health screenings are essential for early disease detection, most of a healthy life is lived away from the clinic. Therefore, consistently engaging in healthy behaviors is the most reliable way to avoid illness or chronic disease. 

Diet and Exercise

Cardiovascular disease, the leading killer in the US, can be prevented by regular exercise and a healthy, balanced diet. Adults with diabetes, hypertension, or obesity are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease. Healthy diets and regular physical activity can greatly reduce this risk.

Smoking and Alcohol 

Along with diet and exercise, eliminating smoking and alcohol consumption can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, liver disease, etc. 

Sleep and Stress

Getting the required amount of sleep is essential for overall health. Sleep deprivation can cause several health risks, including high blood pressure or obesity. In addition, stress can play a major role in the amount and quality of sleep. A study by the American Psychological Association found sleep and stress are often connected. Most adults who experience stress suffer from a lack of sleep; the reverse is true; a lack of sleep causes more stress in their daily lives. 

It is too easy to wait until something goes wrong with our health to make big changes or go to the doctor.  But preventative care requires a proactive mindset and a determination to prevent these problems before they appear. In addition, regular health screening and behavioral and lifestyle changes are vital to reducing the risk of chronic diseases and living a long, healthy life. 

Sources (TBD on formatting and in-text citation) 

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