When it comes to our health, we tend to treat disease instead of warding it off in the first place.
We wait to take care of our body until it demands attention through pain or another avenue we can’t ignore. Because we can’t afford the cost of healthcare, we don’t go to the doctor or spend money on medical issues until doing so is absolutely necessary.
But instead of waiting until sickness strikes, we can take steps to prevent health problems before they occur.
For example, we can change our diet to prevent prediabetes from turning into full-blown type 2 diabetes, with its increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Or we can address joint pain earlier to prevent complex knee or hip replacements later in life.
New advancements and technology provide even more options for preventive care. Innovative risk-predictor tools assess heart health. New drugs aid in weight loss. Medications prevent opioid overdose deaths. And, yes, vaccines prevent serious diseases.
Some of the most effective preventive measures are the simplest. Nothing new here: Eat a healthy diet, keep weight under control, get regular exercise, and don’t smoke.
Almost 74% of Americans over age 20 are overweight or have obesity. Being overweight or having obesity correlates with a higher risk of 13 types of cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For many people, even modest weight loss — such as losing 5% to 10% of body weight — would improve cardiovascular health and lower the risk of some chronic diseases.
Don’t wait. Take steps today to prevent future health problems. The stories in this issue of Chicago Health touch on advancements in preventive care and how you can incorporate them — starting now.