• The Importance of Preventative Care for a Healthy Life

    on May 11th, 2017

The Importance of Preventative Care for a Healthy Life

 

When it comes to our longterm health, we need to be proactive. In some ways, it’s a lot like planning for retirement. Everyone older than us tells us we should start getting serious about it while we’re young. Many of us don’t and wait until we’re closer to retirement age before worrying about investments and savings and the like. While that’s not the worst thing and some people manage to do alright even if they don't start planning as soon as they should, the same can’t be said for your health. If you wait until middle age before you get serious about planning for your golden years, you may already have preventable conditions that could have been avoided years ago.

 Preventative care is the most important thing when it comes to leading a healthy life. Seeing your doctor for an annual physical is a big part of that. There are generally two reasons why someone would develop a chronic illness, or worse, a deadly disease. The first is lifestyle based. Preventative care in the form of an annual physical can show evidence that something is having a negative effect on you whether it be diet, lack of exercise, or something else. The other main reason is environmental or genetic factors which can’t really be helped. But, if you identify an illness early, you could actually save your life. Let’s look at some ways preventative care is used to help you live a healthier life. If you haven’t seen your doctor for a physical recently, you’ll reconsider it when you see how much of a difference it can make.

 

The role of your family doctor 

One underappreciated benefit of having an annual physical is that it actually strengthens and supports the doctor- patient relationship. Yes, there is testing involved to check your overall health, but this relationship is actually a key part to the effectiveness of preventative care. When your doctor gets to know you and sees you regularly, a history is developed. Your doctor will be able to notice changes in you or compare this year’s blood work to last year’s in order to determine if it looks like some kind of condition is developing. Without that history to work off of, it can be more difficult to identify any changes that are occurring in your body.

This emphasizes the importance of keeping a medical record. For example, if it’s noted that year after year your blood pressure is going up, you could be experiencing hypertension which could increase your chances of having a stroke. There are a few key indicators that your doctor will be looking at in your blood work in order to alert you to the increased chances of developing some of the most common chronic illnesses that affect millions of Americans.

 

Key markers to watch

Two things you’re probably aware of that your doctor will check is your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers. Both of these are good indicators for heart disease risk. Your cholesterol is also three numbers. While many focus on the overall total, where you stand on your LDL (bad cholesterol) and HDL (good cholesterol) is also important. Diet and exercise can greatly affect these. Something else your doctor will look at is your blood sugar, both your current levels and your ninety-day levels. These can be an indicator of prediabetes or the actual development of Type 2 diabetes. Type 1 is generally known from a young age, though that isn’t always the case.

 

Other aspects of preventative care

Preventative care extends beyond your family doctor as well. There are plenty of stories of women who went for their annual OBGYN visit feeling fine only to be told that their test came back abnormal. The early detection of cancer in many instances happens because of a routine preventative appointment. In many cases, cancer doesn’t present troubling physical symptoms until it has advanced. This is why it’s recommended that if you’re over 40, you have a colonoscopy done every ten years. The silent growth of colon cancer is a leading cause of cancer-related fatalities all over the world.


Conclusion

Many of the most common chronic illnesses can be avoided if early intervention takes place. While there is no guarantee against developing certain conditions due to environmental or genetic factors, lifestyle changes can prevent a great deal of them in most people. And if you do have a chronic illness of some kind, catching it early and beginning treatment can significantly improve your quality of life. You owe it to yourself to get into a habit of seeking regular, preventative care so you can gain a better understanding of how your body is changing with age. Contact us today to schedule an appointment. The team at Danvers Family Doctors is here to give you the medical care you need so you can live a healthy life.

 

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