Why You Should Care About Preventive Healthcare

Apicha Community Health Center Mar 10, 2016  

Apicha CHC

It seems like reports are coming out every day with a new list of things that could cause medical issues. Whether it's red meat causing heart problems,  cell phones causing cancer, or Coke causing diabetes, the entire world seems to be out to do us harm.When it seems like everyday items are out to get you, how do you fight back?

What Are Preventive Health Services?

This is where preventive healthcare comes into play. Preventive health services are designed to help you fight back against that list of things that are trying to make you sick. Common services that your primary care provider (doctor) will provide (or suggest) include:

  • Diabetes screening
  • Mammograms
  • Colonoscopy
  • Yearly physicals
  • Obesity screening
  • Pap test/Pelvic exam
  • Prostate exam
  • Occassional blood tests

There are many more than the common ones we've listed above, but each one is designed to be administered to discover any potential issues that may arise with your health and prevent them from becoming serious, potentially life-threatening issues. 

Apicha CHC

Why Do You Need Preventive Healthcare?

Receiving preventive healthcare allows your regular doctor to check up on your general health and make sure that your diet, family history, and factors from the environment aren't negatively impacting your health.

You may be saying: "If something was wrong with me or if I was getting sick, I would be able to tell, and I would go to the doctor then".

Unfortunately, your body won't always make it clear that something isn't right. And once it does, it may be too late for your doctor to administer preventive measures to keep you from getting REALLY sick. 

In the most recent death statistics by the CDC, the top ten leading causes of death in the U.S. in 2013 overall were:

  1. Heart disease: 611,105

  2. Cancer: 584,881

  3. Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 149,205

  4. Accidents (unintentional injuries): 130,557

  5. Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 128,978

  6. Alzheimer's disease: 84,767

  7. Diabetes: 75,578

  8. Influenza and Pneumonia: 56,979

  9. Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 47,112

  10. Intentional self-harm (suicide): 41,149

Of these top ten leading causes of death, over half are, for the most part, preventable health issues if they are detected early enough. 

Apicha CHCLet's take a look at how we could prevent the number one cause of death overall in the U.S.: heart disease:

  • Cause: Heart disease is typically caused by arteries that have been clogged by fatty foods and a lack of exercise
  • Prevention: A healthy lifestyle - 
"Abiding by six or more of the American Heart Association's "cardiovascular health metrics"—not smoking, being physically active, maintaining a healthy diet and weight, as well as normal levels of blood pressure, blood sugar, and total cholesterol—seems to make people about 75 percent less likely to die of heart disease" (How to Avoid the Biggest Health Risks, U.S. News Health).
  • Preventive Health Services: Blood pressure screening and control -
"Blood pressure screening and control is one of the most effective ways to prevent heart disease and stroke" (Clinical Preventive Services, HealthyPeople.gov).
At this point,  you may be asking, if heart diesease is so easily preventable, why did over 600,000 people die of it in 2013? Read on for a few potential reasons.

What Preventive Health Services Should I Be Receiving?

Right now, you may be thinking that you're not interested in getting a colonsocopy every year for the rest of your life.  Don't worry, no one is, and you don't need to.

Based on a few important factors like age, family health history, and diet and exercise, your primary care provider (regular doctor) will help you decide what preventive services you need, and when. 

However, in case you're curious, you can generally expect your doctor to begin asking for these preventive screenings to occur around these age benchmarks:

People who were assigned female at birth

  • General Wellness Physical Exam: Every year after turning 12; this exam will include weight and blood pressure monitoring to check for diabetes and other diet/lifestyle-related health concerns
  • Pelvic Exam/Pap Test: Every 1-3 years after becoming sexually active, or after the age of 21
  • Mammogram: Every 2 years between the ages of 50-74
  • Colonoscopy: Every 10 years, or sooner depending on what your first screening discovered
  • Osteoporosis Screening: Testing begins after age 65 for most individuals

People who were assigned male at birth

  • General Wellness Physical ExamEvery year after turning 12; this exam will include weight and blood pressure monitoring to check for diabetes and other diet/lifestyle-related health concerns. 
  • Cholesterol Levels Screening: After age 35, this screening is generally included in your wellness physical exam
  • Colonoscopy: Every 10 years, or sooner depending on what your first screening discovered

You can check out a few other preventive services onthe HealthCare.goc website here.

Remember, only your primary care provider can tell you what preventive healthcare services you need based on factors specific to you and your situation!

How Can I Get Access to Preventive Healthcare?

The first thing you need to do is get a primary care provider, or a regular doctor. Your PCP (Primary Care Provider) will be your first line of defense, and as we mentioned above, they will advise you on what preventive services you need.

However, there are several other concerns that often hold people back from receiving preventive health services.

  • Some poeple don't think their health insurance will cover preventive survices, or they don't have health insurance at all.

    If you receive Medicaid, Medicare, or another plan from the Health Insurance Marketplace, our expert health insurance advisors would be happy to clear up any questions you may have about your policy and what it covers.

    However, many health insurance plans, including private plans, will cover preventive services since prevention is in their best interests as well. Not only does preventive services keep you from getting sick, they save the insurance company money in the long run.

    If you don't have health insurance or can't afford the health insurance you currently have, or have questions about your plan, request an appointment to meet with our health insurance experts today.

  • Some people have to work jobs during the day and can't take time off of work to go to the doctor unless they are really sick.

    This can be a tough one. However, try to find a primary care provider in your area that has extended clinic hours during the week or is open on the weekend. For example, Apicha CHC works to accomodate these situations by offering extended clinic hours on Wednesdays and Thursdays until 7pm.

  • Some people aren't aware of the importance of preventive healthcare and having a primary care provider.

    Hopefully this does not apply to any of the people who have read this blog post! However, if you have any questions or want more information about Apicha CHC's primary care services, please don't hesitate to contact us!

Apicha Community Health Center | LGBT Health Center in NYC

 


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