January 7, 2021
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The age-old proverb “prevention is better than cure” though overused, holds true. The proverbial cure is usually expensive, painful, and not convenient in the least. To put things in perspective, consider the use of seatbelts—they are affordable, easy to use, and provide a robust prevention capability against injury. The consequence or price of not using seatbelts can be quite serious and regrettably dire. The same principle of prevention works with our personal health as well.
Preventive healthcare mostly revolves around 3 things:
• Maintaining a balanced and healthy diet.
• Keeping physically and mentally fit.
• Regular health checks for early detection of diseases.
Your chances of getting cured or being able to successfully manage a non-communicable disease (NCD) are much slimmer after being diagnosed with it. In fact, as reported by WHO in 2018, non-communicable diseases are responsible for 70% of global mortality. Regular health checks are the kind of preventive measures that can help you stay a step ahead of diseases.
The following are the 5 benefits of preventive healthcare:
1. Detecting diseases early can be life-saving
The top four global causes of death are chronic diseases that are preventable and manageable with regular access to basic healthcare.
• Heart disease: Heart conditions are usually caused by obesity, bad diet, and a lack of cardiovascular exercise.
• Cancer: The most common kind of cancer, lung cancer, is caused by smoking and genetic factors.
• Stroke: Like heart disease, stroke is mostly caused by obesity and poor nutrition.
• Chronic lower respiratory disease: Smoking is by far the greatest risk factor, causing 80% of the cases.
In India alone, NCDs are responsible for 61% of all deaths. Preventable diseases caught early increases the chances of surviving them. Breast cancer and prostate cancer can be detected in women and men in early stages with regular health screens such as mammograms and prostate cancer screening (check-ups are advised starting at the ages of 40). The chances of early detection, in turn, are much higher if you have a preventive mindset with a willingness to get regular health check-ups done.
2. Timely prevention can save you from crippling medical bills in the future
As per the National Health Accounts, 2013-14, only 9.6% of the overall medical expenditure in India is on preventive healthcare. Simply put, over 90% of overall healthcare expenses are towards treating diseases and their various complications. This translates to a staggering national bill of Rs. 3.6 lakh crore per year. With skyrocketing costs of medical care, most people from the poorer sections of society end up selling property and personal possessions to keep up with the burgeoning medical expenses.
The management and treatment of chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer is exorbitant and can easily run into lakhs. Being covered under health insurance (according to reports by RedSeer, only 25% of the Indian population has health insurance) in the present can prevent hefty out-of-pocket (OOP) payments in the future. Investing in preventive healthcare allows chronic diseases to be discovered early and for you to avoid expensive medical treatment for conditions that have progressed past regular management.
3. Early diagnosis = early treatment
Knowledge is power—and regularly checking for high cholesterol levels, blood sugar, and blood pressure helps you catch chronic diseases early even if you don’t have symptoms. Preventive health checks let you know what’s going on in your body and what needs to be addressed immediately. This information that can be gleaned from simple and inexpensive blood tests can provide you the necessary insight to make adequate changes in your lifestyle and diet for early treatment of the condition. In many cases, it can minimise the necessity of seeking specialist care from specialist doctors such as cardiologists, endocrinologists, and neurologists.
4. Avoid or reduce symptoms of illness
Sometimes, avoiding a non-communicable disease altogether is not an option due to genetic factors and constraints related to ability. In such cases, the easy management of symptoms becomes important for reduced risk and better quality of everyday life. One of the biggest advantages of working with a proactive and preventive mindset is that NCDs such as cardiac disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and conditions caused by smoking or alcohol consumption are targeted first. The management of these diseases beyond regular stages can be lengthy and difficult. Their early detection plays an important role in effectively managing or avoiding their symptoms.
5. Improved quality of life
Timely preventive screenings such as mammograms can lower health costs, introduce an early intervention, and invariably improve the quality of life. NCDs can have debilitating effects on your ability to be productive and your career. Dealing with advanced stages of NCDs impacts your everyday activities and mental health. Detection of serious illnesses in the early stages can help you prevent not just symptoms but chronic inconvenience as well.
Much like the seatbelt, the cost of which is only a fraction of the overall cost of accident care, preventive healthcare is one of the most efficient methods of maintaining long-term good health. Regular check-ups provide you early markers of worsening conditions for you to make timely and inexpensive lifestyle changes to not just mitigate an illness but improve your overall health and longevity as well. Detecting illnesses and non-communicable diseases in the early stages allows you to seek treatment when it is most likely to work best. With the life-changing and life-saving potential of preventive healthcare, it should be seen as a compulsory part of your overall health. For more information on preventive measures against chronic and life-threatening diseases, book an appointment with our experts at the Department of Preventive Healthcare at Sagar Hospitals.