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How can my doctor help me prevent health problems?

Your doctor can help you prevent health problems by making sure that you are up to date on any appropriate screening tests and vaccinations. Finding and treating conditions that may lead to disease can help you avoid future problems. Your doctor can tell you what symptoms to watch for and when you need to be checked. Talking to your doctor about healthy lifestyle choices can also prevent health problems.

When doing a physical, I like to approach prevention in three general categories—heart disease prevention, cancer prevention and general prevention. I do this because heart disease is the number-one cause of death and cancer is the number-two cause of death. Also, by addressing these issues and their risk factors, we address many of the other causes of medical disease. For heart disease, I look at the major risk factors: cholesterol, diabetes, family history of heart disease, tobacco use and hypertension. For cancer, I review any potential screenings a patient may be due for, including colonoscopy, mammogram and Pap smear. I also address any lifestyle factors that may increase the cause of cancer, such as obesity or tobacco use. Finally, I look at general prevention to make sure things such as immunizations are up to date. It is impossible to say which items on this list are most important, because every patient has specific genetics and risk factors to take into consideration.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.