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Invest In Your Long-term Health With Preventive Care Practices
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 7 out of 10 Americans die each year from chronic diseases, many of which are preventable. Heart disease, diabetes, obesity and even certain types of cancer are among the various chronic diseases that can often be prevented, delayed or alleviated to extend a person’s quality and longevity of life.
We all want to live longer, healthier and happier lives, and according to Scott Selinger, M.D., FACP, internal medicine specialist in UT Health Austin’s Primary Care Clinic, there is no magic pill or hidden secret to accomplishing this. “It comes down to being mindful of the choices you make every single day,” says Dr. Selinger, “such as what you eat, how much you eat, whether or not you exercise, your stress levels, blood pressure and things that affect your overall mood and happiness.”
Making healthy choices every day to enhance your long-term health is otherwise known as preventive health care. Preventive care is different than the care you may receive when you know something is wrong with your body. It involves understanding the steps you can take now to prevent certain diagnoses in the future.
“If we equate our bodies to machines we frequently use, similar to your car, house or bike, we know that these things need regular upkeep or you may, all of a sudden, be faced with a broken water heater, a burst pipe or premature wear and tear,” explains Dr. Selinger. “We are more familiar with these things because there are industries built around them, but it’s a lot less clear when it comes to your body because nobody hands you a maintenance checklist when you’re born.”
Get The Answers You Need
This is where guidance from your health care provider comes in. You may not know the best way to lose weight or how to stop smoking, but your health care team can help you get the answers you need. Even if you think you’re as healthy as you’ve ever been, scheduling an annual exam each year can help your doctor keep track of any changes in your health as you age while providing care and advice when things do inevitably arise.
Preventive care also involves immunizations and boosters, lab work and regular screenings to test for early signs of disease. While they may seem like a burden to keep up with, screenings and tests are intended to help you and your doctor stay informed when it comes to making decisions regarding your health. Catching things early, after all, means quicker treatment, fewer health issues down the road, fewer doctor’s appointments and less money out of your pocket.
“The goal is to keep people from making unexpected trips to the hospital or to their health care provider,” says Dr. Selinger. “For example, if you’ve been taking steps to lower your cholesterol for a long period of time, you’re less likely to have a heart attack, which can be very expensive and dangerously life-threatening. While you can’t prevent everything, staying on top of things definitely makes it easier to manage if anything does occur.”
So, where can you start? Preventive care measures include maintaining a healthy diet and weight; getting regular exercise; avoiding or quitting smoking; managing stress levels; and receiving annual exams, screenings and immunizations. It may seem like a lot to manage, but UT Health Austin care teams make it easier by incorporating registered dietitians, physical therapists, mental and behavioral health specialists and a variety of other experts who are available to you depending on your specific care needs
Your health is an investment, so why not start today? Make an appointment with UT Health Austin’s Primary Care Clinic or UT Health Austin’s WorkLife Walk-In Clinic by visiting online or calling 1.833.UT.CARES.