What is preventive care and how can it keep me healthy?

Screenings at regular wellness visits help find issues when they’re most treatable

doctor examining a young man with a blood pressure gauge

We’ve all heard the adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

That expression may very well be true, especially when it comes to preventive care. We sat down with the experts at Sanford Health to find out why.

What is preventive care?

Kevin Kimm, D.O., is a family medicine specialist for Sanford Health in Jackson, Minnesota.

He described preventive care as key to maintaining overall health and wellness. 

“It prevents disease, injury, or illness, rather than treating a condition after it has happened or worsened. The goal of preventive care is to help people stay healthy,” he said. 

Oftentimes, providers are able to catch diseases early through preventive care, he said.

According to Dr. Kimm, Sanford Health offers a plethora of types of preventive care, including:

  • Wellness visits, also known as an annual physical for both children and adults
  • Heart, vascular, blood pressure and cholesterol screenings
  • Cervical, colorectal, lung and prostate screenings
  • Behavioral health screenings
  • Preparticipation physical also known as a sports physical. This can be covered through a well child visit.
  • Nutrition and exercise programs
  • Health education

Paige Voltz, FNP, a family medicine provider at Sanford Health in Bismarck, North Dakota, said preventive care may lead to a longer life for patients.

“Preventive care helps detect and prevent disease and medical issues before they can become major medical problems. The goal of preventive care is to help patients live longer, healthier lives,” said Voltz.

She explained that through preventive care visits, providers are able to offer patients a wide variety of screenings, immunizations and patient counseling.

“For example, we recommend a yearly mammogram for all women starting at the age of 40. Mammogram helps us to detect changes in the breast that may be too small to see or feel.

“We also provide patients with routine immunizations which not only protects the individual who receives the vaccine but also helps to keep diseases from spreading,” she said. 

When to make an appointment

Kim Belzberg, M.D., is an internal medicine specialist and geriatrician at Sanford Health in Fargo, North Dakota. 

She

said with so many preventive care options available, it’s easy for patients to feel overwhelmed. She said she encourages patients to start slow.

“Often at the first visit the patient is worried about both meeting a new provider and telling the story of their medical care to date. So, I start with what care is most important to them. I typically have them return in one to three months for follow-up, and to go over other concerns. 

“At that time, I broach other screening options that are important, but were not a priority to them at the initial visit,” she explained. 

Your health matters: Don’t delay your care or screenings

Preventive care is important for everyone, no matter the age.

“Preventive care is important to help prevent disease, catch at an early stage, or stop progression. This can help patients age with more strength and vigor.”

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Posted In Family Medicine, Healthy Living, Internal Medicine, Women's