Preventive medicine is a relatively new concept and approach to the traditional practice of medicine. It was developed in the 1970s to improve the value, quality and outcomes of healthcare.
Its Goals Are:
- Health Promotion
- Healthy Diet
- Weight Control
- Reducing Sun Exposure
- Seat Belt Use
- Tobacco Avoidance
- Firearm Safety
- Alcohol and Drug Avoidance
- Disease Prevention
- Blood Glucose Screening (Diabetes and complications)
- Blood Pressure Screening (Hypertensive Cardiovascular Disease)
- Immunizations (Influenza, Whooping Cough, Pneumonia, Tetanus, Chicken Pox, Meningitis, Measles, Mumps, etc.)
- Blood Lipid Screening (Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease)
- Mammography (Breast Cancer)
- Pelvic Exam and Pap Smear (Cervical, Uterine, and Ovarian Cancer)
- Bone Density Study (Osteoporosis)
- Colonoscopy (Colon Cancer)
- Skin Survey (Skin Cancer)
- Tuberculin Skin Testing (Tuberculosis)
Preventive Care Includes Primary, Secondary & Tertiary Prevention
Primary prevention is designed to prevent a disease or condition from occurring in the first place. Examples include:
- Legislation and enforcement to ban or control the use of workplace hazards (e.g. asbestos) or to mandate safe and healthy practices (seatbelts and bike helmets).
- Recommending and pursuing healthy and safe habits (e.g. eating well, exercising regularly, not smoking).
- Immunization against infectious diseases.
Secondary prevention attempts to identify a disease at its earliest stage so that prompt and appropriate management can be started and the impact reduced. Examples include:
- Regular exams and screening tests to detect disease in its earliest stages (e.g. mammograms to detect breast cancer).
- Daily, low-dose aspirins and/or diet and exercise programs to prevent further heart attacks or strokes.
Tertiary prevention focuses on reducing or minimizing the consequences of a disease once it has developed. The goal of tertiary prevention is to eliminate, or at least delay, the onset of complications and disability due to the disease. Most medical interventions fall into this category.
- Helping diabetic keep their blood glucose under tight control to prevent diabetic complications.
- Maintaining optimal control of blood pressure in patients with hypertension.
- Cardiac or stroke rehabilitation programs, chronic disease management programs (e.g. for diabetes, arthritis, depression, etc.).
The value of preventive care has broad support among patients and doctors alike. Each of us is increasingly accepting responsibility for our own health and well being through activities such as healthy diet and active lifestyle, and family physicians have come to the forefront as specialists in support and practice of preventive medicine. Various groups and organizations—the American Cancer Society, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the Canadian Task Force on the Periodic Health Examination—have made contributions towards establishing preventive medicine guidelines.
How Is It Done?
At NOHN, we are thinking prevention for every patient at every opportunity, even when you are not present in our office. However, we recommend that each of our adult patients have an annual preventive care examination. This important visit is the successor to the annual complete physical examination.
During your annual preventive care examination, your health care practitioner will focus on your health from a unique perspective based on your age, gender, family history and medical risk profile. Based on these factors and recommended preventive care schedules, a specific set of interventions and screening tests will be offered in addition to a focused physical examination. During the preventive care exam, many patients care exam,many patients will bring a list of concerns and problems. Your provider will review these issues from the preventive care perspective, that is, to see if they add up to a significant new health issue. If not, each of these problems can be individually reviewed and worked up in detail at later visits.