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Checkup (cont.)

Preventive Care

A panel of doctors under the direction of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services studies the effectiveness of screening tests for early detection and prevention of disease. This group is called the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

The main goal of prevention and health promotion is to reduce the burden of suffering for the major preventable diseases. This task force has identified the 70 leading causes of death and disability in the United States and has ranked them by severity, prevalence, incidence, and potential for improvement. The task force has made recommendations on methods of avoiding these diseases through specific interventions.

  • There are three levels of preventive care: All three of these levels of preventive care are important components of disease prevention and health maintenance.
    • Primary prevention includes interventions that can completely prevent the disease in people at risk. One example is immunizations against certain vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles and tetanus.
    • Secondary prevention identifies established risk factors for disease. Checking blood pressure, cholesterol, and performing Pap tests for cervical cancer screening are examples in which identifying abnormal results can lead to effective interventions that may prevent serious disease from developing.
    • Tertiary prevention is a process for optimizing health once a disease has been diagnosed. An example is a management plan to prevent a person from having another heart attack once they already have established heart disease.
  • Preventive interventions your doctor may use at your checkup are the following:
    • Screening tests are useful in the early detection of disease. Some examples include the physical exam, blood pressure reading, Pap test, and laboratory tests.
    • Immunizations include shots such as a tetanus booster, flu shots, and other vaccinations.
    • Medication prescription may be as simple as suggesting that a person with heart disease risk factors take an aspirin daily.
    • Counseling for health promotion either before or during a health problem may decrease the burden of suffering or prevent the disease. Examples of counseling topics include smoking cessation, safe sex practices, and pre-pregnancy advice on folic acid supplements.

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