It’s no secret that we could be doing a better job of prioritizing preventive health care in this country. As of 2015, only 8% of adults in the United States received the recommended and appropriate clinical preventive services. That means that fewer than 1 in 10 adults had access to critical health information that could’ve been the difference between life and death.
As a result of this disregard for proactive care, chronic illness has unsurprisingly become the leading cause of death and disability in the U.S. In fact, 7 out of 10 deaths each year are due to chronic disease alone.
The most prevalent of these are:
- Heart Disease
- Chronic Lung Disease
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Chronic Kidney Disease
And unfortunately, these diseases are currently on the rise in the U.S. So now more than ever, it is critical to invest in preventive health care services if you want to ensure your future wellbeing.
Recognizing the Importance of Preventive Health Care
Benjamin Franklin once famously remarked, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Though he wasn’t alluding to health specifically, the same logic applies. Clinical research has shown that preventing diseases is much easier and is more successful than trying to treat them after their development. The more time you allow a disease to grow, the higher the chance it becomes life-threatening or even fatal.
It’s clear, then, that the importance of preventive health care cannot be overstated. In fact, in one study, researchers found that increasing preventive services in the United States could result in more than two million lives saved annually. This incredible impact could be accomplished through three strategies of prevention outlined by the CDC: primary, secondary and tertiary health care interventions.
Primary Prevention: Save Your Life Through Proactive Strategies
Primary prevention as defined by the CDC:
“intervening before health effects occur, through measures such as vaccinations, altering risky behaviors (poor eating habits, tobacco use), and banning substances known to be associated with a disease or health condition.”
Primary prevention strategies help you maintain a lifestyle that minimizes your risk of developing a disease in the future. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of what that lifestyle is or should look like. And one of the largest drivers of this confusion is the very design of our reactionary-based healthcare system.
Much of America’s approach to healthcare is focused on “sick care”—prioritizing the treatment of disease over working on ways to prevent it in the first place. So even if you’re someone who doesn’t suffer from a chronic disease (yet), you most likely still won’t be equipped with the information necessary to know how to avoid one in the future.
Unfortunately, most physician visits last fewer than five minutes in total. That doesn’t give your doctor much time, if any, to discuss ways you could be altering your lifestyle to decrease your risks. However, proper primary health prevention would allow you to pursue proactive strategies to help you avoid future disease.
Secondary Prevention: Save Your Life by Treating Diseases Early
Secondary prevention as defined by the CDC:
“screening to identify diseases in the earliest stages, before the onset of signs and symptoms, through measures such as mammography and regular blood pressure testing.”
If you are someone who ends up developing a disease, secondary prevention strategies can help you identify and treat the illness at its onset. This proactive approach to care then gives you a much greater chance of recovery. For example, a late-stage cancer diagnosis is much deadlier than an earlier one. Missing the opportunity to treat cancer at its inception when it’s most weak and localized can be the difference between remission or spread.
The good news is, medical technology has advanced incredibly over the last few years. We now have access to unbelievable diagnostic tools that can help us gain greater insight into our minds and bodies like never before. The bad news, however, is that traditional health systems have fallen behind technologically and opt out of providing patients with care that utilizes these medical innovations.
So while revolutionary early-detection cancer blood tests exist, you probably won’t be receiving one from your traditional provider. You’ll most likely also miss out on advanced biomarker analysis, full-genome sequencing, sleep analysis, full-body MRI imaging and more. The technology to compile and analyze millions of your different health data points is currently available and ready to be used. Yet, it’s not offered to most patients in the U.S.
Screening for diseases through secondary prevention strategies is one the best ways to prioritize your wellbeing. But unless you are using the most advanced technologies available to do so, you are missing out on a wealth of information that could help you identify diseases at their onset.
Tertiary Prevention: Save Your Life Through Aggressive Treatment Therapies
Tertiary prevention as defined by the CDC:
“managing disease post diagnosis to slow or stop disease progression through measures such as chemotherapy, rehabilitation, and screening for complications.”
Finally, tertiary prevention focuses on treating people who are already sick. This is most often the strategy that traditional health providers focus on. According to the National Health Council, chronic disease affects more than 133 million Americans in total. That’s more than 40% of the entire population in the U.S.
Because so many Americans suffer from chronic illness, our health system is incredibly invested in researching and treating these diseases. And while that is indeed a noble cause, it would be much more effective to focus on preventing the diseases in the first place.
So if we know that primary and secondary prevention strategies are worth investing in, then why are preventive services so low in this country? The CDC asked this very question in a study they conducted in 2019. Their findings revealed that economic considerations, the role of healthcare players and the changes in reimbursement models were to blame. So until we start to recognize the importance of preventive health care, we will continue to see millions suffer from chronic illness in the U.S.
A Better Prevention Strategy: Executive Health
Frustrated with the lack of preventive services offered to them by traditional providers, many people have turned to executive health companies like EDISON BIO to find the best care. EDISON BIO’s Advanced Executive Health exam provides the most in-depth insight into your mind plus body available. Members walk away knowing the current state of their health, their future risks and strategies for how they could be increasing their longevity and improving their performance. At its core, EDISON BIO believes that health care should be proactive, personalized and focused on prevention.
About EDISON BIO
Most of us worry about our health. EDISON BIO advanced, comprehensive, and convenient health screening uncovers hidden disease and health challenges early. You’ll be confident about your health and primed to perform at your highest potential.