Many people view health care as a reactive practice, intervening only to treat an existing illness, disease, or injury. While treatment is certainly a major part of medicine, some physicians take a proactive approach, focusing on preventing illness and disease.
When physicians work together for both treatment and prevention, it’s called preventive (or preventative) medicine. Instead of specializing in a single disease, age group, or body part, preventive physicians take a more holistic approach, making it an extremely broad field.
At AGP Family Clinic, family medicine physician Dr. Richard Pedroza and his staff practice preventive medicine with their patients in the Tomball, Texas, area. As patients may not be aware of what this specialty entails, they’ve provided this informational guide to get you up to speed.
Preventing a problem from developing is both more efficient and healthier than treating an illness or injury after the fact, and physicians in this area focus on averting disease, disability, and death for individuals and for large-scale populations.
The specialty uses biostatistics and epidemiology, as well as a combination of medical, social, economic, and behavioral sciences to achieve a state of health. In addition to individual treatment, doctors may evaluate health services or health care organizations, as well as study the causes of disease and injury within specific segments of the population.
Preventive medicine is unquestionably interdisciplinary and focuses on the whole patient, taking into account the many factors that influence wellness. In addition to its wide scope of specialties, it also addresses public policy, health equity, and the disparities found in certain communities.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that, in the United States, the five leading causes of death are heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries, stroke, and chronic lower respiratory diseases. In fact, chronic diseases such as these account for 7 out of 10 deaths.
These figures make preventive medicine more important than ever in identifying health issues that can cause premature death. As such, disease screening and detection have become critical components of health care. In addition, the promotion of healthy habits like a healthy diet, exercising, and avoiding tobacco use are just as critical.
Preventive medicine can also help lower health care costs. Heart disease and stroke, for example, which are both preventable illnesses, cause one-third of deaths in the US each year, costing the health care system approximately $216 billion annually and resulting in $147 billion in lost workplace productivity.
The best way to take advantage of a preventive approach is through your annual physical. At this appointment, Dr. Pedroza reviews your medical history, asks you about any new problems or symptoms, and performs a complete physical exam. He also does a routine blood draw, looking for any discrepancies in blood count, electrolytes, cholesterol and lipid levels, blood sugar levels, or other factors that may indicate the beginnings of disease.
When you come into AGP Family Clinic for your initial physical exam, we establish baseline values for your body’s functions that give us reference points for the results of future exams. In this way, Dr. Pedroza can catch a problem when it’s in its early stages and is easier to treat, and the treatment is more likely to be successful. If your results indicate a specialist is required to address a problem, he writes you a referral.
Why wait for a disease or other health problem to become entrenched and hard to treat? Make an appointment with AGP Family Clinic for an annual physical exam to prevent health problems from developing in the first place. Give our office a call at 832-684-3909, or book online with us today.