Preventive medicine is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle. Preventive medicine deals with preventing diseases and encouraging physical well-being through organized individual and community efforts. It is a proactive approach that includes identifying risk factors for any disease or illness so that it can be prevented with a plan of action that includes lifestyle changes, early intervention whenever needed, and if required medications/vaccinations.
Why Is Preventive Medicine important?
Non communicable diseases (NCDs) kill 41 million people each year worldwide. Cardiovascular, Cancer, Respiratory, Diabetes & Diabetic complications constitute 80% of premature deaths caused by NCDs. NCDs in India have increased from 37.9% in 1990 to 61% in 2020, most of these can be prevented by improving preventive personalized medicine practice.
Preventive screenings can help diagnose a disease in its prodromal stage (when early signs indicate the beginning of any disease) or developing stage. This will help you get appropriate treatment at the right time that may prevent the disease from aggravating further. So, with preventive medicine, you can maintain your health at the optimum level.
What Are the 3 Levels of Prevention in Preventive Medicine?
Preventive medicine helps prevent an illness or disease on three levels:
Primary Prevention - Actions aimed at avoiding the manifestation of the disease.
Secondary Prevention - Focuses on early disease detection to ensure early medical intervention and preventing progression.
Tertiary Prevention – Focuses on reducing disease severity and complications.
Preventive medicine is important because it helps people stay healthy while minimizing complications and maximizing recovery from potential diseases/illnesses. This encompasses a wide range of activities, including:
● Public health measures, such as nutritional and food supplementation, hygiene education, immunization & vaccination of children, adults and elderly and post exposure prophylaxis for communicable diseases
● Health promotion through health literacy efforts and addressing behavioral risk factors such as smoking cessation, diet control, physical inactivity etc
● Screening programs for early detection of disease and early identification of risk factors and measures to curb development or progress of the illness.
The ‘Health check’ market
The past few years have seen an increasing trend of annual health check ups. Most hospitals and private pathology centers have been promoting health check packages including an array of tests, the price range usually varying depending on the tests included.
This trend has in turn led to people choosing packages most suiting their budget range. Witty marketing techniques such as ‘99 tests @ Rs 999’ or ‘complete body check up @ Rs 1999’ are misleading and often only lead to a false sense of security, waste of money and precious resources both at an individual & national level.
Personalizing Health checks
The practice of annual health check ups is advantageous, but the choice of tests to be included must be tailored to the individual’s medical history and current health status. Choosing a random package based on the best offer available leads to missed diagnosis, duplication of tests, and serves no benefit in the long term health of an individual.
It is highly recommended that a health check package be selected as per the individual’s specific medical status, if needed in consultation with a family physician. This can help in reducing the incidence and severity of NCDs.
Preventive Genomics, the future of personalized medicine
Rapid knowledge growth and dramatic cost reduction have increased the use of genomic testing for preventive wellness. Other than disease prevention, various aspects covered under genomics include assessment of nutrition, fitness, allergies, sleep, medication effectiveness etc. Genomics can help identify:
Your genetic-based risk for developing a range of conditions, including cancers, cardiovascular disease, assist reproductive health decisions, and neurological conditions such as Alzheimer's disease.
Your status as a carrier for conditions that could be passed to your children.
Which treatments and medications are likely to be effective, and which should be avoided.
What Are the Diagnostic Procedures Associated with Preventive Medicine?
The following diagnostic procedures can be performed to identify your risk factors for certain diseases or conditions so that their occurrence can be prevented.
● Laboratory tests
● Body composition tests
● Radiology (X-rays)
● Sonography (ultrasound diagnostics)
● Genetic tests
● Cancer screening
Preventing an illness eliminates the need for medical care and hospitalizations and the associated costs. So, preventive medicine can help save your health and wealth simultaneously, helping you live life to the fullest.
At PHE, we focus on prevention, wellness, and personalized care. Our Preventive care facilities in the clinic include physician consultations, personalized health checkups, nutritionists, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, cognitive therapy, speech therapy, etc.