This is Preventive Health

What is preventive health or preventive medicine? The word prevention is thrown around today in all sorts of conversations with what seems like an infinite amount of definitions. Ultimately, what does it look like?

Medline Plus, describes preventive health as a set of screening exams including:

  • Disease screenings like high blood pressure or diabetes
  • Future disease risks like high cholesterol or obesity
  • Alcohol use and resources on how to quit smoking
  • Healthy lifestyle including healthy eating and exercise
  • Vaccination updates
  • Maintaining a relationship with a healthcare provider

Apple Stethoscope

They also mention the following lab tests:

  • Blood pressure, blood sugar,
    blood cholesterol
  • Colon cancer screening and genetic testing for breast/ovarian cancer
  • Mammogram and pap smear
  • Osteoporosis screening
  • Depression screening
  • HIV and other STI tests

The Center for Disease Control (CDC), describes preventive health through the lens of the Healthy People 2020 objectives, which include pretty much everything:

Access to health services Immunization, Infectious disease
Age focused health (i.e. healthy aging) Injury & violence prevention
Blood disorders & safety LGBTQ health
Disability and health Mental health & disorders
Education & community-based programs Nutrition, weight status, physical activity
Environmental health Occupational safety
Family planning: maternal, infant, child, adolescent health Oral health, Sleep health, Vision
Safety: food & medical products
Genomics Public health & preparedness
Global health Social determinants of health
Health communication & technology Substance & Tobacco abuse
Hearing, sensory, communication disorders Wellness & quality of life

As well as a multitude of diseases & disorders…

Arthritis Osteoporosis Chronic back conditions
Cancer Chronic kidney disease Dementias
Diabetes HIV Heart disease
Stroke Respiratory disease STIs

Phew! Are you tired of reading yet? Lastly, the American Association for Naturopathic Physicians describes their stance on prevention like this:

“Naturopathic medicine is a distinct primary health care profession, emphasizing prevention, treatment, and optimal health through the use of therapeutic methods and substances that encourage individuals’ inherent self-healing process… Naturopathic physicians emphasize the prevention of disease by assessing risk factors, heredity and susceptibility to disease, and by making appropriate interventions in partnership with their patients to prevent illness.”

All of these things are preventive health... including many more

All of these things are preventive health

Preventive vs. Preventative?

I am in no ways a word smith or grammar pro, but here is difference between the two… there is NONE! Both preventive and preventative mean exactly the same thing and share all definitions.

Preventive: designed to keep something undesirable such as illness, harm, or accidents from occurring

If you want to be exact, preventive is the ‘original’ adjective and preventative is the variant, but who is counting! I choose to use the sleeker and simpler preventive, but it is personal choice.

In Summary…

There is no right or wrong way to describe preventive health. It encompasses many parts of health care, but it is not just up to the physicians and health care professionals. The best part about preventive health is that you, the patient, have more control than ever about how healthy you are and about how healthy you can become! Most of us are already doing things in our lives that are considered preventive medicine and are taking steps towards becoming the best, healthiest version of ourselves. We all can achieve optimum health and it does not need to be accomplished through huge life changes, but rather small baby steps. Let’s start building the best, healthiest, and happiest version of you today!

Every week I will post 3 tips and tricks to improve your health and well-being. You can use some or all of the tips depending on how they fit in your life. The tips will be in the following categories: Motivational MondayWorkout Wednesday, and Foodie Friday. I also will post weekly on Sunday about a health/wellness/fitness topic that is close to my heart. If you have any health questions or topic areas you would like me to focus on feel free to send me an email and I will try to highlight them for you.

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My name is Emma Petshow and I am a 3rd year naturopathic medical student at the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, OR. For more about myself, check out my bio. This blog is intended for information about preventive health and lifestyle improvement. The information contained on this blog is not to be used as medical advice. For specific medical advice you should consult your physician.