As the old adage goes “Prevention is better than cure”, research has proven that preventing the occurrence of an illness is much economical and simpler to handle when compared to treating it when it reaches its peak. More than the cost, it is about the sheer joy of living a stress-free life without having to worry about one's health.
Preventive healthcare is a fairly new concept of healthcare that has come into the picture to tackle health problems before they occur.
Preventive health check-up as a necessity
Health conditions like heart attack or even a stroke don’t occur overnight but are a result of the build-up over a period of time. Currently the lifestyles of individuals have gone through adverse changes and diseases that have resulted out of these changes have resulted in a new spectrum of diseases namely the lifestyle diseases.
While India stands out to be the diabetic capital of the world, hypertension and coronary artery disease etc. have also been highlighted in the Asian population. All of these can be addressed adequately if identified at early stages.
Consider an example at a dentist where a patient is being treated for a cavity or a root canal which could have been a result of improper oral hygiene. If identified at the early stage, they could have been avoided by taking simpler steps for proper hygiene.
The concept of preventive healthcare is to nip the complication while it is still a bud instead of taking it down when it has grown into a tree.
Who is it recommended for
If you are an individual with a family history of a genetic ailment like diabetes, heart disease etc. or lead a sedentary lifestyle or work in a high stress environment or a consumer of alcohol and tobacco, a regular preventive health check is strongly recommended.
As a thumb rule, every individual between 30-50 years of age needs a health check once every 3 years. Between the ages of 50-60, a health check is recommended once in 2 years and over the age of 60 years, health check once every year is recommended.
Some basic tests conducted in preventive health checks
Stress test for families with cardiac history
This test is also offered as a stand-alone test. This test uses a treadmill to reflect arterial blood flow to the heart and chalks out imbalances, if any. If you have a family history of cardiac problems, you will need to carry out this test at least once a year.
Stress test combined with ECHO
The stress test can be combined with and echocardiogram (ECHO) which is more accurate than electrocardiography (ECG) and helps a doctor find the location and the extent of heart muscle damage depending on the results of a stress test. However this test is recommended only if the stress test results are positive.
Regular check of Blood Pressure and Blood Sugar
Blood pressure is a function of stress and anxiety rather than heredity. Such cases can be kept monitored through counselling, yoga and meditation instead of direct medication if the blood pressure (BP) is not alarmingly high. Patients suffering from severe stress and hypertension must have their BP checked at least once every week.
As diabetes is hereditary, blood sugar level monitoring is suggested at least once every two years if any of the parents or grandparents are diabetic.
Health check-up for women
Self-inspection and regular doctor check-ups are essential for women to help detect breast cancer early. One has to undergo a mammogram on the detection of any lump. But they should get a check-up done by a doctor and not solely depend on self-inspections.
With the help of preventive health checks, you can proactively manage your health for a healthier and joyful life.
Article by – Dr. J. Sreekanth, M.D., Sr. Consultant Internal Medicine