General Wellness Information

 Get Healthy

Preventive Health = developing healthy habits

Central to achieving Village Health’s goal of a healthy community is the importance of prevention. There are two main participants in the prevention effort — the doctor, who maintains a sensible level of surveillance such as routine physicals and testing and, more importantly, the patient, whose lifestyle choices hold the key.

In these tough economic times and with health insurance costs spiraling ever upward, it’s never been more important to get this message out to patients – many of whom literally can’t afford to be sick or injured. Fortunately, preventive measures taken by the patient don’t cost much – and in the case of bad habits like smoking and drinking – they can actually save sizable sums of money each year. Naturally, this money can help offset the expenses of health insurance premiums and high deductibles.

It’s very simple really. Healthy living habits and regular health maintenance are the keys to avoiding the illnesses and injuries that rob you of your health and quality of life.

Preventable illness and injury account for over 80% of all health care expenses in the United States today[See ABC News article “Preventable illness at the core of U.S. healthcare costs” http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Diet/story?id=3683683&page=1#.T1kt1K7p6eY]

Chronic disease has been called the Public Health Challenge of the 21st Century. At least 7 out of 10 deaths among Americans each year are from chronic disease. [See The Power of Prevention from the CDC, http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/pdf/2009-Power-of-Prevention.pdf] Conditions like hypertension, heart and lung disease, cancers, stroke, adult-onset diabetes, and arthritis afflict 1 in 2 adults and cause untold hardship, death and disability, not to mention recurrent utilization of the health care system.

Among the primary causes of the above illnesses are

  • smoking
  • obesity
  • lack of exercise
  • excessive consumption of alcohol

When the toll in death and disability from preventable injuries from accidents and trauma is added, we begin to see the potential for preventive medicine in terms of both increasing health and reducing costs.

Learning healthy habits

Healthy living habits are best developed gradually over time as they are more likely to endure throughout your life. Most forms of “crash” programs should be avoided in favor of simple to follow and easy to achieve goals that are pursued consistently over time.

What you can do (and a few don’t’s)

When the following measures are adhered to with reasonable faithfulness, the reduction in chronic disease and the gains in wellness and general health are remarkable. These can be grouped loosely into two main categories: things we consume and things we do or fail to do.

Things we consume….

  • Smoking (all forms – cigarettes, cigars and pipes) – strict avoidance
  • Drug abuse (all forms, including prescription abuse – a leading killer) – strict avoidance
  • Alcohol abuse (the medical definition of moderation is a maximum of one dink per day for women, two for men) – avoid going over these limits
  • Eat high fiber, low animal fat, low calorie diet rich in leafy green vegetables – Generally eating less is healthier, except when it comes to leafy green vegetables, where more is better. [How much is enough? View this useful link to the CDC’s “fruits and veggies” matter site: http://www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov/]

Things we do or fail to do…

  • Avoid dangerous driving – excessive speed, distractions such as texting
  • Wear seatbelts and use appropriate child restraint devices at all times
  • Exercise daily or 2-3 times weekly (if cleared by your doctor)
  • Avoid promiscuous/dangerous sexual activity
  • Reduce weight by diet and exercise to the goal of your age/size-recommended Body Mass Index (BMI) [Click here to calculate your BMI: http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/]

What can we expect from our preventive effort?

The benefits are many. But here’s one example taken from recent Centers for Disease Control studies:

Lifestyle changes in diet and exercise, including a 5%–7% maintained weight loss and at least 2 1/2 total hours per week of physical activity, can prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes for Americans at high risk for the disease. Participants in a major clinical trial group exercised at moderate intensity, usually by walking an average of 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, and lowered their intake of fat and calories. Their efforts resulted in a sustained weight loss of about 10 to 15 pounds, reducing their risk of getting diabetes by 58%.

That’s it! Village Health’s simple plan for getting real results from preventive medicine. Follow the above rules and you will reduce and almost eliminate 80% of the major factors that contribute to the most common illnesses and injures. Good luck!