Wouldn’t it help you sleep better to know you’re doing everything possible to prevent heart disease, diabetes, strokes, and other leading causes of death? Of the 900,000 Americans who die every year from the five primary causes of death, the Centers for Disease Control says that 360,000 of those deaths could be prevented.
But how can that happen? The answer revolves around diet, exercise and a more stress-free lifestyle. Respiratory diseases, heart disease, stroke, cancer and unintentional injuries are the five biggest killers of American adults, and as a group they account for two-thirds of all deaths in the entire country each year!
I set out to learn about this mysterious concept of “prevention” and found a wealth of helpful information at WebMD as well as the Harvard Health website. Experts listed the key ways to avoid dangerous diseases, outlining simple things that anyone can do, especially those who are over the age of 50.
It all sounded so good to me that I’ve summarized the results below:
Prevent Disease and Live Longer
Cholesterol testing: The single best thing a person can do to prevent heart disease is get a cholesterol screening. People over 20 should have a test about every 4 years, but the over-50 group should do a test annually.
Check your blood pressure: The goal is to have numbers lower than 120/80. High blood pressure has been called the “silent killer” because a person can’t physically sense when it’s too high. High blood pressure can lead to strokes, heart attacks, kidney malfunction and vision problems. Get checked every year and work to reduce it with diet and exercise if necessary, based on your doctor’s advice.
Colon cancer screening: For those over 50, this is a necessity because the risk of colon cancer rises significantly once you reach that age. (No groaning! Just get one.)
Mammograms: For women between 50 and 74, this test should be done every year or every other year, based on your doctor’s recommendation. A mammogram is the single best way to diagnose early-appearing breast cancer.
A Pap test for women: While the risk of cervical cancer declines with advancing age, this test is necessary for early detection and effective treatment. Cervical cancer is simple to treat if it is discovered early enough. Ask your doctor how often you need one as frequency is based on age, medical history and other factors.
Bone mineral density scan: Men over 70 and women over 65 should have this test done in order to detect osteoporosis.
Depression and diabetes screenings: Ask your doctor about these tests if you have a history of either condition or you think you need one.
Flu shots and immunizations: Simple, inexpensive and worth the time, flu shots and routine immunizations are a smart way to stay healthy. A yearly flu shot is the way to go, but ask your doctor about other immunizations you might need depending on your particular health status and age.
Drink in moderation and don’t use tobacco products of any kind: This is the most common piece of advice from medical research specialists. Moderate drinking means no more than two drinks per day for men and one per day for women. No tobacco products means no tobacco products, ever, in any form.
An Ounce of Prevention
Protecting your body from disease and the ravages of aging is what the following books are all about. From the amazing discoveries of “The China Study” to simple, delicious food plans that fight illness, books about preventive lifestyles are all the rage. Maybe that’s why researchers now believe that smart eating and an active lifestyle are the best ways to avoid heart disease and other lethal maladies that have plagued humanity for thousands of years.
The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted And the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, And Long-term Health: “The China Study” brings together years of research on the way people eat, why they choose certain foods over others, and how the body works when it is given what it really needs, rather than what our out-of-whack appetites think it needs. This isn’t a diet plan, recipe book or eating program, but a discussion about how diet is the single biggest way to prevent heart disease, cancer and diabetes. The New York Times said this book is the best of the hundreds written on the subject. In simple, non-technical language, the author issues a warning call to those of us who are still listening: major diseases and the general effects of aging can be minimized if we eat right. The time to begin is now. This book will motivate anyone to take the first step on the journey toward health and wellness.
Preventive medicine is one of the fastest growing areas of medical research. In fact, 2017 might be the year when several major breakthroughs are made.
There’s already talk of an Ebola vaccine, discovery of a marker gene for Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS), and major movement in Multiple Sclerosis research. What does all this good news mean for the practice of disease prevention? Likely, there will be a renewed emphasis on the non-genetic factors that lead to heart disease and other deadly conditions, and that means an even bigger push by the medical/research community for active prevention and screening.
What do you think will be the big medical stories of 2017? Feel free to comment below and tell us what you think. Or visit our Facebook page and leave some feedback. We’d like to know your ideas about the best ways to stay healthy.