Preventive medicine is a relatively new concept and approach to the traditional practice of medicine. It was developed in the 1970's to improve the value, quality and outcomes of healthcare. Its goals are:
- Healthy Diet
- Weight Control
- Reducing Sun Exposure
- Seat Belt Use
- Tobacco Avoidance
- Firearm Safety
- Alcohol and Drug Avoidance
- Blood Glucose Screening (Diabetes and complications)
- Blood Pressure Screening (Hypertensive Cardiovascular Disease)
- Immunizations (Influenza, Whooping Cough, Pneumonia, Tetanus, Chicken Pox, Meningitis, Measles, Mumps etc.)
- Blood Lipid Screening (Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease)
- Mammography (Breast Cancer)
- Pelvic Exam and Pap Smear (Cervical, Uterine, and Ovarian Cancer)
- Bone Density Study (Osteoporosis)
- Colonoscopy ( Colon Cancer)
- Skin Survey (Skin Cancer)
- PSA and Prostate Exam (Prostate Cancer)
- Tuberculin Skin Testing (Tuberculosis)
Preventive care includes primary, secondary and tertiary prevention.
- Primary prevention involves the completely asymptomatic individual as in the administration of immunizations to prevent disease.
- Secondary prevention is identifying and treating asymptomatic persons who have already developed risk factors or pre-clinical disease, but in whom the disease itself has not caused symptoms. Blood sugar screening is an example of secondary prevention.
- Tertiary prevention uses preventive treatments in symptomatic patients, for example, treating high cholesterol levels after a heart attack will decrease risk of future heart attacks.
The value of preventive care has broad support among patients and doctors alike. Each of us is increasingly accepting responsibility for our own health and well being through activities such as healthy diet and active lifestyle, and Family Physicians have come to the forefront as specialists in support and practice of preventive medicine. Various groups and organizations—the American Cancer Society, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the Canadian Task Force on the Periodic Health Examination—have made contributions towards establishing preventive medicine guidelines.