- Published: 27 May 2012
- - Written by Mark Horrocks, MD
Each day, the media inundates us with advice on how to eat right and exercise to help our bodies fight cancer, obesity and disease. Often, we listen in earnest and pick and choose the latest fads to forward our self-health care. While we all wish to be healthy and fit, many adults overlook the one cornerstone of being healthy — routine medical checkups and tests.
A simple call to your primary health care provider is the best step toward medical self-care. As physicians, we recognize that many individuals don’t schedule annual exams and routine tests because they either feel well or because they fear an unknown diagnosis. Although there are numerous excuses for not scheduling regular wellness exams, we caution that many medical conditions are “silent” until there is a complication. Illness such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart and liver disease, high cholesterol and osteoporosis are a few examples.
The best way to treat a disease is to prevent it. Between the ages of 30 and 49, there are various important preventative health screenings, but those screenings become increasingly important for those who have reached 50 and older. Your primary health-care provider can recommend specific tests that can aid in the early detection of the most common and treatable diseases.
A majority of Americans, in the prime of their lives, often mistakenly assume there will be plenty of time to worry about their health. Sadly, for some, that time may not come. One of the many “silent” killers could present at any time. Scary as it is, if you are one of those proactive individuals who schedules an annual routine health exam and follows the recommended screening protocols, a silent disease will most likely be detected in the early stages. And the earlier the better, as there are typically a greater number of treatment options and significantly better outcome percentages when conditions and illnesses are diagnosed early.
There are three areas of preventive medicine we encourage individuals to consider when it comes to their health. The first is to maintain a healthy lifestyle by engaging in proper nutrition, weight control, stress management, physical fitness, blood-pressure control, tobacco cessation and either no, or at least moderate, use of alcohol.
The second is simply being aware that many diseases are treatable in the early stages, and routine health tests and immunizations with respect to heredity, age, race, sex and risk factors are vital to an early diagnosis.
Finally, and certainly a foundation for long term health, is to schedule an annual wellness exam. If individuals are active in their health through exams and education on illnesses and risk factors, many common illnesses could be prevented or significantly postponed.
For more information on how to continue to be well, please contact Health West or your primary care provider. To better serve you, Health West has offices in Aberdeen, American Falls, Downey, Lava Hot Springs, McCammon and Pocatello. We can be reached by calling 208-232-6260.
To find a doctor, call Portneuf Medical Center’s physician referral line toll-free at 1-877-721-6673.