If you’re someone who only goes to the doctor when something is obviously wrong, you could be setting yourself up to face avoidable illnesses. Rather than reacting to health woes, it’s best to be proactive about your health and lessen your chances of facing severe health issues.
But what are the most important proactive steps to take? Dr. Charles, a family practitioner and blogger from “The Examining Room of Dr. Charles,” shared the top 10 preventive services for the U.S. population, ranked based on an evidence-based analysis of costs and impacts of benefits and harms. Here is an abridged version of Dr. Charles’ list:
Discuss Daily Aspirin Use
Individuals at moderate to high risk should weigh with their doctors the risks of bleeding and ulcers against the benefits of reducing cardiovascular disease.
The Advisory Committee recommends vaccinations against hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), polio, measles, mumps, rubella, varicella (chicken pox), pneumonia, and influenza for average risk children.
Smoking Cessation Advice and Help to Quit
Clinicians should screen all adults to determine if they smoke or use other tobacco products, provide brief counseling, and offer patients nicotine replacement therapies and referrals to help them quit.
Screening for Alcohol Misuse and Brief Counseling
Many doctors consider more than 7 drinks/week or 3 drinks/occasion risky for women, and 14 drinks/week or 4 drinks/occasion hazardous for men, but in the context of certain activities like driving no amount is safe. Many people are unaware that their alcohol use is excessive and will change their habits when a doctor points it out.
Colorectal Cancer Screening
Colonoscopy remains the gold standard for early detection and prevention of colon cancer, although other options include fecal occult blood testing and sigmoidoscopy. 19,000 deaths could be prevented each year if people over age 50 were periodically screened as recommended.
It’s recommended that blood pressure be measured routinely in all adults over 18 and that anti-hypertension medications be taken to prevent the incidence of cardiovascular disease.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends annual flu shots for those adults over 50 years of age, women who will be pregnant during the flu season, persons with certain chronic medical conditions, children 6 months to 18 years old, and several other important adult and pediatric groups you can review at the CDC.
Recommended especially for elderly persons using a Snellen acuity test (the one that hangs on the wall). Very cost effective, and vision correction can reduce hip fractures from falls, improve quality of life, reduce accidents, help with proper use of medication bottles, and increase activities such as exercise.
Cervical Cancer Screening
While the starting age and interval between Pap smears is currently in debate again, screening for cervical cancer in women is certainly effective. It is largely responsible for the 50% decline in cervical cancer mortality over the past 30 years.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends: “Screen routinely for lipid disorders among all men aged 35+ and all women aged 45+. Also screen men aged 20-35 and women aged 20-45 if they have other risk factors for coronary heart disease. Treat with lipid-lowering drugs to prevent the incidence of cardiovascular disease.”
The facts cited by the report are convincing:
- 21% of adults age 35+ have high cholesterol.
- One out of 4 adults who do not control their high cholesterol will have a cholesterol-attributable heart attack. One out of 3 will die of cholesterol-attributable coronary heart disease.
- Long-term use of therapies is necessary to achieve maximum benefits of screening
For more information on these services, read the full post on kevinmd.com.