Many disease processes have given scientists and providers of healthcare hints as to the “causes” of / or signs and symptoms of diseases prior to their being a serious or life-threatening issue. Some diseases give no hints and need to be screened for at the appropriate age.
The body of knowledge available now has developed definitive risk factors/behaviors that can aggravate many diseases as well as more information on how your family history impacts your health. If these risk factors/family history of disease are evaluated early, and the variables manipulated, then we can either prevent or significantly delay the disease.
As in Cardiovascular disease (disease of the coronary arteries) we know from years of research that there are many accelerating factors to cause the arteries to be obstructed. The primary risk factors are blood fats (cholesterol), blood pressure, glucose metabolism (diabetes, insulin resistance) and obesity/exercise routines. Research has given us the ‘predicted’ safe value for each of these parameters, so we measure your risk, compare it to the scientific standard and together with you, plan an intervention that lowers your risk factors to a safe level.
In our practice, we evaluate all components of risk for multiple diseases and evaluate where you are relative to those disease processes and plan together to attenuate the risk. When you leave the office, you will have a sheet of paper with the risk factor, the “normal” value for it and “your” value and the agreed plan to reduce your risk in each area.
During a follow up exam, we start out with the newly measured risk factors and the last visit’s goals and plan again until the goals have been met.
As a whole, each year we look at the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommendations, and implement them with you. This would include at least annually Blood Pressure, glucose disposal (diabetes), cholesterol testing, cancer screening (mammograms, GYN exams, colonoscopies, etc), counseling on such topics as quitting smoking, losing weight, eating healthfully, treating depression, osteoporosis (thinning bones and risk for fracture) and reduction of alcohol use.
We also discuss with you various vaccinations against known diseases as well as flu shots, prevention of shingles, and other diseases.
This “preventative medicine” approach to care allows us to sneak up on disease processes and attenuate them early, providing you with a better quality of life and avoid those “emergency” interventions as a result of ignoring risk factors/behaviors that one day will compromise your health.
W. Lane Edwards, Jr., MSN, APRN, ANP (Retired) 1-3-22