When it comes to healthcare, disease prevention doesn’t usually attract a lot of headlines. But getting the proper screenings at the right time and staying up-to-date on vaccinations can do a lot to keep people healthy, according to Scott Schuldes, a certified family nurse practitioner with ThedaCare Physicians-Hilbert.
“People aren’t always aware of the tests or vaccinations they need and I make it a priority to keep patients educated,” he said. “Over the long run, preventative health measures will not only make you feel better, it can help avoid costly health problems down the road.”
High blood pressure is a perfect example, Schuldes said. If people don’t have it regularly checked, they may not know that it’s high. High blood pressure can lead to a variety of problems, including stroke and heart disease.
“If patients know what their blood pressure is, they can take some steps to bring it under control if it’s on the high side,” he said. “You can change how you eat and exercise more to help bring it down. If necessary, you may need medication. But left untreated, high blood pressure can cause serious – and let’s face it – costly health problems.”
Consumer Reports Magazine recently looked at the 19 healthcare providers who are a part of the Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality and named ThedaCare Physicians the best at offering cancer screening tests to patients, providing care for people over the age of 60, and treating patients with heart disease.
“That honor shows just how serious we at ThedaCare take preventative care,” Schuldes said.
So what should people need to keep an eye on? Schuldes offers this advice:
Get an annual physical to check your blood pressure and possibly your cholesterol and glucose levels, depending on your age. By checking glucose levels, physicians can monitor for diabetes while high cholesterol can lead to cardiovascular problems.
Get screened. Depending on your age and sex, there are several cancer prevention screenings people need. If you are a woman, an annual pap smear can check for signs of cervical cancer while mammograms are suggested for women over 40 to look for signs of breast cancer. Men aren’t immune to screenings – men should be screened for prostate cancer starting at age 50. And anyone over the age of 50 should have a colonoscopy to check for signs of colon cancer (this screening is usually done once every 10 years)
Get vaccinated. Vaccines aren’t just for children. Everyone should get a flu shot annually and depending on your medical history, you may need a tetanus booster or another booster to ward off diseases like whooping cough. For adults over the age of 65, the adult pneumococcal vaccine is a must since it helps prevents pneumonia, which can be dangerous and even fatal.
Outside of the doctor’s office, Schuldes said people can improve their health by eating right, getting regular exercise, and quit smoking.
“There are little changes we all can make to improve our health, whether it’s taking a walk every day or eating more fruits and vegetables,” he said. “They might not seem like a lot, but they can add up and help you live a longer, healthier life.”