Preventative healthcare is about taking proactive steps to prioritise your health. This means taking steps to identify risks that prevent illness and maintain good health, rather than treat the illness when it occurs. There is a range of recommended activities associated with preventative care, like regular check-ups, screenings, vaccinations and healthy lifestyle choices. Preventative healthcare is important for people of all ages. It will allow you to identify potential health problems early, leading to better outcomes. Discover why preventative care is important as Bloom reveals a proactive approach to healthcare.
What is preventative healthcare & why is preventative care important?
Preventative care refers to healthcare practices, medical screenings and checkup interventions whose goal is to prevent or identify health problems before they become more serious, which would require more extensive and expensive treatments, and have a poorer recovery outcome. The ultimate aim is to promote good health and prevent diseases or conditions from developing or progressing.
Some of the benefits of preventative care include the following:
- Early detection of health problems. This will help reduce your risk by starting a treatment programme before the risk becomes more serious. Preventative care will improve health outcomes and reduce complications. For instance, if you discovered that you had high blood pressure, which can contribute to several health problems, including heart health issues, you may decide to make some lifestyle changes by adjusting your diet, starting an exercise plan or quitting smoking.
- Prevent or manage chronic health conditions. Preventative care will allow you to reduce risk or apply a management plan for chronic conditions, like diabetes, cancer or heart disease. If you discovered that you had cardiac arrhythmia, you may decide to adopt a heart-healthy diet to prevent further complications.
- Improved overall health. Preventative care can help maintain good health and prevent health problems from developing in the first place. People become incentivised to prioritise their health, stay active and engaged in their well-being and ultimately improve their quality of life and feel better both physically and mentally.
- Lower healthcare costs. Preventative care can help save money in the long run. Many diseases and conditions require expensive medical treatments and services, like surgery, which can be avoided if one adopts a proactive approach to healthcare.
Types of preventative care check-ups, tests and screenings for adults
Here are some of the most important preventative care tests and screenings for adults:
- Blood pressure screening: High blood pressure is a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Adults should have their blood pressure checked at least once a year, or more frequently if they have high blood pressure risk factors, like a family history of the condition.
- Cholesterol screening: high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. It’s recommended that adults have their cholesterol levels checked annually.
- Colorectal cancer screening: this is the third most common cancer in both men and women. Adults screenings should start at age 45, or earlier, if you have a family history or other risk factors.
- Breast cancer screening: women should have regular mammograms starting at the age of 50, or earlier if they have a family history or other risk factors for breast cancer.
- Cervical cancer screening: women should have regular pap smear tests starting at age 21, or earlier if they are sexually active.
- Prostate cancer screening: this is the most common form of cancer among men. Regular screenings should start at age 50.
- Diabetes screening: adults who have high blood pressure or other risk factors for diabetes should be screened for diabetes, typically through a blood test.
- Skin cancer screening: adults should have a skin exam by a healthcare provider at least once a year to check for signs of skin cancer.
In addition to these tests and screenings, it’s recommended that adults receive vaccinations, like the flu vaccine. Discuss preventative care tests and screenings with your GP or healthcare provider during your annual comprehensive health assessment, to determine the appropriate schedule and frequency for your needs.
Types of preventative care for children
Here are some of the best preventative tests and screenings for children:
- Hearing and vision screening: will help identify potential problems early, which can lead to better outcomes and prevent long-term issues. If a child is identified as having problems with their vision, they could receive glasses, for instance.
- Developmental screening: children should be screened for developmental delays, learning disabilities, and behavioural issues with their paediatrician.
- Dental check-ups: while children are growing, they should undergo regular dental check-ups and cleanings that can help prevent cavities, gum disease, and other oral health problems. The dentist may recommend braces in order to correct jaw alignment, for instance. Children should have their first dental check-up by age one, and thereafter every six months.
- Vaccinations: this is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of infectious diseases and protect children from serious illnesses. Children should follow the recommended vaccination schedule as outlined by the Department of Health.
- BMI and nutrition screening: child obesity is on the rise in South Africa, so children should have their body mass index (BMI) checked regularly to ensure they are at a healthy weight. Nutrition screening can also help identify any dietary deficiencies or potential issues and assist in developing a healthy eating plan for children.
- Scoliosis screening: young children and adolescents should be screened for scoliosis, which is a curvature of the spine that can cause pain and other problems later in life. If problems are identified early, the child can undergo corrective procedures that will decrease their risk of developing more serious complications later.
Prioritise your health by practising preventative healthcare
Take control of your own health, improve your quality of life, and promote better public health outcomes. This answers the question: why is preventative care important? It starts with healthy living and proactive behaviour. Bloom is committed to good health, which is the reason why we encourage members to make smart lifestyle choices and decisions.
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You understand and acknowledge that all users of the Bloom website are responsible for their own medical care, treatment, and oversight. All content provided on the website, is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Neither is it intended to be a substitute for an independent professional medical opinion, judgement, diagnosis or treatment.