Preventive health care
The most important part of preventive health care is maintaining good health habits. This includes:
- Avoiding alcohol use or using it in moderation
- Avoiding smoking and drug abuse
- Controlling any diseases or disorders, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or high levels of cholesterol in the blood
- Controlling weight
- Getting daily exercise
- Getting proper nutrition
In addition to these habits, some screening services may help prevent or minimize disease.
1. It is important and recommended for adults to have the following periodic screening tests:
- Abdominal aortic ultrasound in certain people
- Blood pressure
- Blood sugar
- Cholesterol screening
- Colon cancer screening
- Depression screening
- Genetic testing for breast cancer or ovarian cancer in certain women
- HIV test
- Osteoporosis screening
- Pap smear
- Sexually transmitted disease screening
See also: Physical exam frequency
2. Many diseases can be effectively treated when detected early. See your primary health care provider right away if:
- A lump or persistent sore appears on your body.
- You have unexplained weight loss.
- You have a lasting fever.
- You develop a chronic cough.
- You notice continued body aches and pains.
Have a plan for getting professional care before the need arises.
3. Keep immunizations up-to-date. See: Immunizations - general overview
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Accessed February 22, 2009.
U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Guide to clinical preventive services 2008. Rockville, MD. 2008. AHRQ publications 08-05122.
Woolf SH. Principles of preventive health care. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2007:chap 12.
Reviewed By: Linda Vorvick, MD, Family Physician, Seattle Site Coordinator, Lecturer, Pathophysiology, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.