Our Preventive Medicine services include:
“Preventive medicine is about preventing illness from taking root. We want to see you before you are sick, so that we can keep you from getting sick in the first place”.
What is “Preventive Medicine”?
The American Board of Preventive Medicine (ABPM) defines Preventive Medicine as “that specialty of medical practice which focuses on the health of individuals and defined populations in order to protect, promote, and maintain health and well-being and prevent disease, disability, and premature death.”
Academic medicine commonly divides Preventive Medicine into these categories:
- Primary Prevention
- actions to prevent illness from occurring, such as wearing sunscreen to prevent melanoma (skin cancer), keeping vaccinations up to date, and even simple hand washing to avoid infections.
- Secondary Prevention
- all about early disease detection—e.g. screening tests such as mammograms for early detection of breast cancer, as well as tests to measure blood sugar to catch diabetes or pre-diabetes even before there are symptoms.
- Tertiary Prevention
- management of long-term health problems such as heart disease to maximize quality of life.
Preventive Medicine is everything we can do together to help you stay well.
Is “Wellness Care” the same thing as “Preventive Medicine”?
Although these terms are often thrown around rather loosely, “Preventive Medicine” is an officially defined division of medicine endorsed by the American Medical Association. Standards and guidelines for Preventive Medicine have been determined based on results from scientific and clinical studies. In other words, it is “evidence-based” medicine.
On the other hand, there is no single agreed-upon definition of “Wellness Care.” Therefore almost anyone – including massage therapists and even yoga instructors– can say they practice Wellness Care, and there is really nothing wrong with that. Like Preventive Medicine, Wellness Care generally emphasizes maintaining health and wellbeing, as opposed to focusing on illness or medical problems. As a physician, We are a strong proponent of Preventive Medicine, as well as Wellness Care when it contributes to overall health.
Why should I care about Preventive Medicine? I feel fine!
Think of your body as a car. Everyone knows a car needs gas to run. Even if no attention is paid to the gas gauge, when the tank gets empty enough, a “low fuel” light will come on. You know what the light means, and you know what will happen if you ignore it. But a car has other needs in addition to gas. It also needs clean oil to continue to run smoothly and efficiently. In the short term, the need for oil can be easier to ignore than the need for gas. Unless there is a leak in the oil tank, the oil would have to get quite sludgy before the car seizes up.
However, if you don’t check the oil regularly, there is no way to know what is going on in the oil tank. Over time, oil is being burned, and sludge is beginning to build up. Meanwhile, as sludge builds up, it can cause significant damage to the engine. Eventually, if you go too long without changing the oil, or if you ignore that red oil light, you could be in for a major inconvenience—way more inconvenient than preventive maintenance.
Screening tests catch potential problems early – when they are easiest to treat.
If you don’t check the oil of a car, the worst-case scenario is that the engine will need to be replaced. That’s bad, but at least it’s an option. However, your body is irreplaceable. So you need to take care of it to keep it running smoothly and at optimal performance. And this means keeping tabs on your blood pressure, as well as other medical parameters.
Some of your body’s needs are obvious. For example, when you are thirsty, your body is telling you it needs to be hydrated. So you give your body what it needs by drinking some water. Unfortunately, some problems, such as hypertension (high blood pressure), are more insidious. Hypertension is often called “the silent killer.” According to the American Heart Association, over 20 percent of all people with high blood pressure is unaware of the condition. Sometimes it takes a heart attack or stroke to alert them to the problem. But meanwhile, even before obvious signs or symptoms are apparent, hypertension can wreak havoc throughout the body. And some of the effects of hypertension, such as kidney damage, are irreversible. Preventive Medicine encompasses all the measures that can be taken to keep you healthy. This includes specific screening tests recommended based on your age, gender, family history, and other possible risk factors. By making an appointment to see us, we can determine which screenings are right for you. If there are any concerns, the sooner we detect them, the easier it will be to address them. Screening tests detect pathologies before symptoms are noticed, and they also provide important baseline measurements that enable us to monitor for changes over time. These changes are often more meaningful than single results alone. In fact, this is actually the philosophy underlying the science of “Preventive Medicine” – the idea that we can live fuller, happier, healthier lives if we pay attention to our health on an ongoing basis.
“Primary Prevention” is about preventing illness.
Even hand washing falls under the umbrella of “Primary Prevention” because it is one of the most important actions that can be taken to avoid infection. Modern medical science also offers us additional ways to avoid infectious diseases such as vaccinations. Of course you probably already know about getting a flu shot, but there are many other vaccinations that provide protection against specific illnesses. Clinical research and ongoing studies are used to develop guidelines about which vaccinations would be best for you according to your age, gender, and unique medical background. Taking advantage of the opportunity to get vaccinated is one of the smartest and easiest ways to prevent illness. Make an appointment to see us, and we can discuss current medical guidelines and determine if you may be due for any vaccinations.
But aren’t vaccinations just for kids? I got all these shots when I was younger.
Most vaccinations work by getting your immune system to produce antibodies to fight specific infections. Antibody titers (the concentration of antibody molecules in your body) need to be high enough to be able to beat infection. Unfortunately, titers can decline over time, and immunity declines with them. Without a minimum concentration of antibody, your body cannot adequately fight infection, making you vulnerable to illness. This is why vaccinations sometimes need to be “boosted” to bring the concentration of antibodies up to adequate levels of protection.There continues to be a lot in the news about Whooping Cough (Pertussis) outbreaks. The problem is that antibody titers have been declining in adults vaccinated long ago and in those who never received vaccination. Obviously these adults are at risk for the illness, but this is actually a much bigger problem for the kids who come in contact with them. This isbecause the infection can be fatal for children. Maybe you have kids yourself, or nieces or nephews or grandchildren. Or maybe your neighbor has a young child. These little guysshould provide enough incentive to make an appointment to find out if you are due for a vaccination or “booster.”
Our primary goal is to keep you healthy!
As your primary care physician, we are here for you if you get sick. However, there is no need to wait for a medical issue to make an appointment. Although it is common to think you should only see a doctor if you believe you have some kind of illness or problem, it’s actually better to make an appointment before that happens! If you give us the opportunity to work with you, there are many illnesses we can prevent from occurring in the first place. We can also use screening tests to catch potential problems early when they are easiest to treat.
Healthy trends in Healthcare
Many doctors believe that Preventive Medicine is the next big thing in healthcare! Despite all the sophisticated medications and complicated procedures, preventing illness and catching disease early is still a profoundly important part of modern medicine. After extensive cost-benefit analysis of healthcare, even insurance companies and government agencies are reaching the consensus that it makes a lot more sense to cover the cost of keeping people well than to pay to treat preventable illnesses after they occur.Making an appointment to see me is an important step in taking control of your health and wellbeing. Everything we do during a “check-up” or “preventive care” visit will be guided by the latest medical research and national recommendations. We are ready to work with you to keep you feeling your best—not just for a long life, but for a long and healthy life.