AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION

WORDS Jacqueline Phillips, Phillips Medical Clinic, Fort Smith
IMAGE micolas/Shutterstock

Mar 1, 2024 | Featured, Health

 

Many things in life require careful thought and preparation. Sometimes we need to be cautious and take precautions. A great expression for that kind of behavior is, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Preventive health care services include age-appropriate physical examinations, vaccine counseling, laboratory tests, screenings, and most importantly, patient counseling to prevent illness, disease, and health problems. Preventive care greatly reduces the risk for disease, disabilities, and early death. In fact, data shows that 89.8% of the US population under the age of 65 have medical insurance; however, nearly a third of Americans lack access to primary care services including routine preventative care. Establishing a relationship with a primary care provider and receiving preventative health care are some of the most critical actions you can take in your life. Let’s discuss some common screenings which, when combined with early intervention, can positively affect long-term outcomes of your health.

DIABETES
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that all adults aged 35 years and older regardless of weight and risk be screened for diabetes. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 38 million Americans have diabetes (about 1 in 10) and approximately 90-95% of them have type 2 diabetes (T2DM). More than 80% of Americans with prediabetes are not aware of their risk for T2DM. Early intervention, which includes counseling and lifestyle changes, can prevent the progression to T2DM.

A simple blood test, called a hemoglobin A1C, will measure an individual’s blood sugar over the past three months. This test allows your provider to identify if the blood sugar is normal, or in a range of prediabetes that increases the risk for diabetes, or in a range that is consistent with diabetes. With prediabetes, the blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not consistent with diabetes. This can quickly progress to T2DM because extra glucose stays in the bloodstream elevating blood sugar. When a body can’t utilize insulin properly it will develop insulin resistance and T2DM. T2DM leads to serious health concerns that impact overall health including issues involving the heart, kidneys, eyes, and circulation in the feet as well as nerve damage. Screening and intervention are vital to incorporating changes that may prevent or delay progression to diabetes.

CARDIOVASCULAR
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends key screenings for assessing cardiovascular health. If you missed screening during American Heart Month in February, now is the time to schedule. Blood pressure screening is recommended in adults aged 18 and older. It is a simple noninvasive screening completed at each visit with your healthcare provider. Normal blood pressure are values below 120/80. Uncontrolled high blood pressure or consistently elevated uncontrolled blood pressure can lead to heart failure, heart attacks, stroke, kidney damage, and other detrimental effects to vital organs.

Cholesterol levels are another factor to check. This is a simple blood test included in most preventative health examinations for individuals 20 years of age and older. An additional preventative health screen that is completed in those 40 and older includes a calculation of your atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) risks. This simple calculation, done by your provider, gives insight and allows your provider to assess your 10-year risk for cardiovascular disease and intervene appropriately. An additional screening test that is important for adults with certain risk factors such as over aged 40, overweight, family history of heart disease, tobacco use, high blood pressure, and diabetes, is the Carotid Intima-Media Thickness Test (CIMT). The CIMT assessment measures carotid arterial wall thickening prior to symptoms of heart disease and is an independent predictor of future cardiovascular events. This allows for early intervention and better overall health outcomes.

COLORECTAL CANCER
March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. According to the American Cancer Society, the risk of developing colorectal cancer is about 1 in 23 for men and 1 in 25 for women. Most insurances cover colon cancer screening. The current guideline is to screen individuals with average risk beginning at age 45. The most accurate test your provider can order is a colonoscopy. There are other less invasive options such as a fecal occult blood test (FOBT) and a Cologuard test. Although not as accurate as a colonoscopy in determining colon issues, these screenings are better than not having a screening.

Most commercial insurances cover preventative health exams by a primary care provider. It is very beneficial to establish and maintain a relationship with a primary care provider not only to treat any chronic illnesses, but also to increase your access to care during acute illnesses and prevent disease. It is always a good time to focus on your health. I highly recommend scheduling a preventative health exam with a primary care provider in our community today to discuss these and other screenings based on your age.

Phillips Medical Clinic is owned and operated by Jacqueline Phillips, an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse–Certified Nurse Practitioner licensed through the state of Arkansas. She has 28 years of experience in the nursing profession and 15 years in primary care.

Phillips Medical Clinic
613 Lexington Avenue, Fort Smith, Arkansas
479.242.9797   I   PhillipsMedicalClinic.com

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