A large part of the U.S. population chooses to delay receiving healthcare until their condition becomes critical and they have to visit the emergency room. Statistics shared by Business Insider on preventative healthcare suggest that about 3.31 million Americans report that they have never had a health checkup in their life.
Preventive care is known to be one of the most effective ways to reduce the rate at which diseases spread in our society and also decrease the burden on the healthcare system. A study1 by Michael V. Maciosek et al showed that if the use of preventive care services increased to 90% in 2006, America could have saved two million more lives and a total of $3.7 billion in personal healthcare spending. This shows the importance of preventive healthcare in reducing the financial burden on the healthcare industry and helping people live longer and healthier lives.
Importance of preventive healthcare
Preventive healthcare is the pinnacle of leading a healthy lifestyle. The importance of preventive healthcare is rooted in an early diagnosis. It helps identify potential issues early on and treat them before they worsen.
Additionally, it’s a lot less expensive to practice preventive healthcare than paying thousands of dollars for treatment. Ultimately, preventive healthcare plays a crucial role in establishing a society with the best possible health status.
Examples of preventive healthcare
Healthcare reforms must make preventive healthcare education much more accessible, to promote a better lifestyle and limit the deadly consequences of multiple diseases. It’s important to teach children the importance of preventive healthcare and how to pursue a healthy lifestyle by employing exercise and nutritional programs. By instilling these values in them, they will learn to prioritize their health and wellbeing throughout their life.
Similarly, adults need to be more aware of early detection of signs and symptoms of diseases and ensuring that they limit the amount of stress in their daily lives.
A lack of awareness about the importance of preventive healthcare inhibits people from taking advantage of preventive healthcare services. This is why we have identified eight major proactive measures of preventive care you can take to maintain your health and prevent future health problems.
1. Diabetes screening
As the incidence rates of diabetes rise rapidly, the disease poses a serious threat to our society. In 2018, American Diabetes Association estimated that around 34.2 million people in the U.S. have diabetes and out of these, 7.3 million people are not aware of it. Diabetes is one of the most prevalent diseases in our society that is associated with serious complications such as heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, stroke, and more.
In 2016, 16 million visits to the emergency rooms were reported with diabetes listed as one of the diagnoses of the patient. In 2019, Diabetes was the direct cause of 1.5 million deaths. Some risk factors such as obesity, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure can be managed and those who are genetically vulnerable to it should take more precautionary measures. These include screening for diabetes, getting an early diagnosis, and implementing the prescribed lifestyle changes immediately.
2. Cholesterol tests
Getting your cholesterol levels checked is important to ensure a healthy life. High levels of cholesterol can lead to the buildup of fat in the walls of the arteries causing what is known as atherosclerosis which increases your risk of developing heart disease or stroke – the two leading causes of death in the US.
It is important to note that abnormal cholesterol levels don’t have any symptoms which is why you must get it checked periodically; ideally every five years. Abnormal cholesterol levels are common in children and adolescents, affecting around 1 in 5 adolescents.
Vaccines are one of the most well-known examples of preventive healthcare. Throughout history, vaccines have played a critical role in limiting the spread of various diseases and saving countless lives.
4. Weight management
The adult obesity rate was reported to be at an all-time high of 42.4% in 2020. Obesity increases the risk of multiple types of cancers, heart diseases, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, and other illnesses.
Regular exercise and a healthy diet are examples of preventive healthcare because they help you manage your weight and alleviate symptoms of various diseases.
5. Blood pressure tests
Blood pressure tests are one of the most important screening tests for monitoring an individual’s cardiovascular health. Undetected high blood pressure can significantly increase your risk of developing heart disease or stroke. However, if your blood pressure is higher than normal (120/80 mm Hg), it can be managed by regular checks, a few lifestyle changes, and maybe even medication, if needed.
6. Mental health screening
For most people, mental health is often an afterthought when it comes to healthcare. Nearly one in every five adults living in the U.S. is diagnosed with a mental illness. These mental health conditions contribute to one of the most leading causes of death in the country, which is suicide. This is where preventive healthcare plays an important role. Mental health screening tools and assessments can help ensure early diagnosis and prompt treatment of any existing mental health condition.
7. STI screenings
For sexually active people, screening for sexually transmitted infections (STI) is one of the most important examples of preventive healthcare because it’s possible to have an STI without knowing it. In many cases, there aren’t any signs or symptoms of the STI, which can lead to a rapid spread of the infection and poor health outcomes. Sexually active people should get tested regularly for STIs such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, syphilis, and hepatitis as a routine part of their medical care.
8. Cancer screening
Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Screening tests for cancer allow for early diagnosis of this deadly disease before it progresses to other parts of the body. The earlier a cancer is detected, the easier it is to treat. Most patients will survive any type of cancer if it is detected and treated early utilizing adequate cancer screening tests. Some of the most common screening tests include mammograms, colonoscopies, pap tests, and tomography.
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The bottom line
We have all heard of the phrase “prevention is better than cure”, yet many of us fail to practice it in our daily lives. The importance of preventive healthcare in the industry holds no bounds. You may not be able to control every illness, but taking a proactive approach towards your health that focuses on the importance of preventive healthcare significantly reduces the risk of diseases, disabilities, and death.