What practical things can you do to maintain good health? How can you screen for preventable diseases? According to a report in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the most important intervention is to take a small dose of aspirin daily to prevent heart attacks and strokes in men older than 40 and women older than 50. Immunizing children and discouraging people from smoking follow closely behind, the Washington, D.C.-based Partnership for Prevention found.
Analysts quantified the gain a of longer life and better quality of life for each preventive measure they studied. They also compared the cost-effectiveness of each preventive intervention. Finally, they combined the two rankings into one score that measures bang-for-the-buck for the top preventive-care options.
Of the 10 preventive measures that promise the greatest gains, six are ignored by more than half of Americans who’d benefit from them, according to the study.
Below is a list of the top 20 preventive measures in order of positive impact. Measures that are ignored by more than half of those who could benefit from them are indicated by asterisks (*). How are you doing? Contact your family doctor for discussion and planning.
- *Daily aspirin to prevent heart attacks and stroke in men older than 40 and women older than 50.
- Childhood immunizations for diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, measles, mumps, rubella, polio, hepatitis B, etc.
- *Tobacco-use screening and brief counseling by doctors.
- *Routine colorectal cancer screening for adults 50 and older by any recognized method.
- Hypertension screening via routine blood-pressure tests and medication if necessary.
- Annual flu shots for adults 50 and older.
- *Immunization of adults 65 and older against bacteria that cause pneumonia and related diseases.
- *Screening and brief counseling of problem drinkers by their physicians.
- *Vision screening for adults 65 or older.
- Cervical cancer screening for sexually active women and women older than 21.
- Cholesterol screening for men 35 and older and women 45 and older.
- Routine breast-cancer screening for women 50 and older, and discussion with women ages 40 to 49 to set an age to begin screening.
- *Routine chlamydia screening for sexually active women younger than 25.
- Calcium-supplement counseling for adolescent girls and women.
- Vision screening for children younger than 5.
- Routine counsel for women of childbearing age on the use of folic acid supplements to prevent birth defects.
- Obesity screening for adults and high-intensity diet and exercise counseling for the obese.
- Depression screening for adults.
- Hearing-impairment screening for adults 65 and older.
- Promotion of child-safety measures such as car seats, pool fences, bicycle helmets, poison control and curbs on scalding-water burns.
Next time you’re at the doctor, you can use this list to start a conversation about preventive-health actions.
You can read the study itself, which ranks 25 preventive measures, and learn more about prevention-based strategies to improve your health! Go to: www.prevent.org/nccp