Be a Wise Health Care Consumer

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It’s National Wise Health Care Consumer Month – so we feel like we should tell you ways to be good consumers of health care  - and be healthy at the same time.

Let’s start with preventive care – much of which is covered under most insurance plans – can keep you healthy and on top of any health concerns.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says “preventive care includes health services that are used to prevent illnesses, disease and other health problems, or to detect at an early stage where treatment is likely to work best.”

Reread that last part – “to detect at an early stage when treatment is likely to work best.”  That should be reason enough to be pro-active when it comes to your health.  Life-threatening diseases can be found early with regular screenings.  Breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, diabetes and heart disease are just a few diseases that can be treated early or completely avoided if regular screenings are done.  

Yearly wellness visit

Reviews health history, preventive screenings and an overall review of your health, including blood pressure and weight.  It’s a time of discovery and base-line data.

Colonoscopy

One of the first screenings that can detect colon cancer.  It’s recommended to have your first colonoscopy at age 50, then repeat every 10 years.  Sooner and more often if family history suggests you are at risk. 

Mammogram

The first line of defense for detecting breast cancer.  The American Cancer Society recommends that women start regular mammograms at age 40 and have one every year until 55, then have one every 1 or 2 years.  Family history may dictate earlier mammograms.

Pap smear

For women, a pap smear detects cervical cancer and other abnormalities.  Recommendation is every 3 years for women aged 21-65 years.

Prostate cancer screening

Prostate cancer is the 3rd leading cause of cancer death of men in the United States.  Two tests are available for early detection: the digital rectal exam and a PSA screening blood test.  Both are recommended for men starting at age 40.

Blood pressure

One of the first signs of heart disease.  It’s easy enough to monitor and it’s usually the first thing that your provider checks when you visit.  But you can do it yourself with a pretty simple blood pressure device available for purchase.

High cholesterol

Have your cholesterol levels checked starting at age 18 and then with regular screenings (a simple blood test) as recommended by your provider.

Immunizations

Don’t forget to stay on top of immunizations, including a yearly influenza vaccine.  And a tetanus shot every 10 years.

We haven’t even mentioned healthy eating and regular exercise.  But we know you’ve heard about these before and hear about them often.

Being a wise health care consumer starts when you start taking care of your health.  Being pro-active can prevent a re-active panic in the future.  So start today.

Contact Greene County Medical Center to learn about the services we offer to prevent illness and disease - or detect and treat something you already have.