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Preventive Medicine

photo if doctor holding a chalkboard with the words preventionPreventive medicine focuses on ways to prevent disease and illness before they develop in the patient’s body. Researchers separate preventive measures into four quadrants: primary, secondary, tertiary, and quaternary preventive health care. Johns Creek Dermatology and Family Medicine offers in demand preventive health care strategies to assist patients in the use of tools and strategies that promote health and wellness.

Primary, Secondary, Tertiary, and Quaternary Prevention

Examples of preventive medicine types include:

  • Primary prevention includes measures that all patients can take to avoid some diseases from manifesting, such as immunization, birth control and condom usage, regular dental cleanings and care, and hand-washing.
  • Secondary steps include the detection of disease and screening tests, including routine blood work, mammograms and pap smears.
  • Tertiary prevention decreases complications of disease and restores the patient’s function after diagnosis. For instance, a patient diagnosed with depression may take an antidepressant medicine to control symptoms of this disease.
  • Quaternary prevention includes a collective of health actions that lessen or avoid unneeded interventions of medical care. A healthy lifestyle, including diet and exercise, are forms of quaternary prevention.

Why Preventive Care Matters

Let’s say a patient in a family-focused practice learns he is at risk for the development of type two, adult-onset diabetes. Diabetes is frequently characterized by higher than normal blood sugar levels. Higher than normal blood sugar levels are identified during a routine blood screening. The doctor explains that, if left untreated, the individual is likely to develop diabetes in a period of time.

The physician outlines a series of steps to help the patient prevent or avoid diabetes complications (or development of the disease). These steps include primary, secondary, and tertiary measures:

  1. Primary prevention must start before the patient’s diagnosis occurs. Since the patient has a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, the attending physician recommends healthy lifestyle suggestions, including avoidance of high carbohydrate and sugar-rich foods and weight loss if overweight. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic report that a reduction of five percent of body weight can greatly reduce the patient’s risk of developing diabetes.
  2. Secondary prevention occurs if the patient is diagnosed with diabetes in an early stage. The physician recommends that the patient monitor his blood sugar levels to reduce the need for more aggressive treatment later on. For instance, the doctor recommends that the patient check blood sugar levels after consuming a meal. He or she continues to avoid high carbohydrate and sugary foods. Portion control is an additional preventive step. The physician may recommend that the patient meet with a dietitian to learn more about portion control and the number of daily calories required for maintain a healthy weight.
  3. Tertiary prevention is necessary to limit or prevent complications of diabetes in patients with established disease. These complications may include glaucoma, skin or foot issues, or heart disease. The physician will monitor blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels in the patient to help avoid more serious health risks. It’s likely that the attending doctor will recommend eye and foot exams and A1C testing (to measure blood glucose levels at three-month levels).

Johns Creek Dermatology and Family Medicine offers family-based primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary preventive care for the entire family unit.

Preventive Care Focus

Primary and secondary preventive measures strategically avoid or slow the onset of disease. Much needed primary and/or secondary prevention occurs via the delivery of patient care in the doctor’s office or hospital.

Primary prevention helps the physician prevent the development of chronic disease, injury, or infection by managing risk factors know to lead to the development of these diseases or conditions. Primary prevention includes regular vaccination throughout life; use of condoms if sexually active; and receiving behavioral counseling needed to stop smoking or drinking alcohol; and nutritional and activity counseling needed to create a healthy lifestyle.

Primary prevention uses data collected from a large universe of patients, such as all men or all adults. The preventive care physician uses recommended measures to prevent disease.

Secondary prevention helps to reduce a known health issue or problem. Examples of this level of prevention include the treatment of known high blood pressure or LDL cholesterol; sexually transmitted diseases (STD) treatment; or prescription and use of medications needed to help the patient stop smoking.

Primary prevention can help all people to cut their risks of serious health problems and is considered the wisest use of health dollars by the medical community. Secondary prevention, however, can mean the difference between recovering good health or managing a lifelong chronic illness. For these reasons, most health insurance companies recognize the importance of patients’ desire to maintain and enjoy good health by avoiding disease. Since patients are also empowered to take control of their own health care in this model, most people benefit from a family-focused practice that prioritizes health education and screening tools.

Primary and secondary preventive care improve the health and life quality of patients. These considerations of preventive measures extend from the home into schools, communities, and employer workplaces. The need for more health education and nutrition information is demanded by patients because most people are aware that lost personal productivity, treatment costs, and death are the end result of disease and illness.

Patient Benefits

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), studies show that preventive care, including hand-washing, healthy diet, exercise, and vaccinations against disease work collectively to extend the patient’s life span. A focus on preventive care and wellness helps the patient avoid serious illnesses and resulting expensive medical treatments. Most insurance companies agree that preventive medicine is likely to decrease the patient’s medical care costs over the long-term. For this reason, many health insurance companies pay for breast pumps for nursing mothers, pay for men and women’s gym memberships, or other recommended preventive care strategies for the patient.

Conclusion

Preventive care is a sensible, practical course for most patients. Johns Creek Dermatology and Family Medicine uses this proven model to maintain and improve each member of the family’s health. Patients in North Atlanta, Alpharetta, Suwanee, Duluth, Dawsonville, Johnscreek, Gwinett County, South Forsyth County, and North Fulton County should contact Dr. Zack Charwaki about patient-focused preventive care at 770-771-6591 to arrange an appointment today.