Ever heard of undiagnosed diseases claiming life? Or prognosis being grave, because the intervention didn’t happen at the right time as of not going through early health checkups?
Consequences Of Undiagnosed Diseases
Undiagnosed diseases and delayed interventions can have grave consequences, often claiming lives that could have been saved. This highlights the importance of preventive health checkups, as they focus on disease prevention rather than treatment.
In India, the healthcare situation is concerning, with millions suffering from hypertension, tuberculosis, and lifestyle diseases. By intercepting the progression of diseases early on, preventive health checkups can significantly improve outcomes.
Listed below are some of the figures stating the grim condition of healthcare in India –
- A whopping 139 million people suffer from hypertension, symptoms of which are rarely recognized. Hypertension is further responsible for 57% of strokes and 24% of heat-related deaths in India, with about 2.6 lakh deaths occurring due to high BP itself.
- Tuberculosis causes nearly 5 lakh deaths in the country, with approx. one-third of cases undiagnosed.
- According to WHO, one in four Indians above 30 are at risk of dying owing to lifestyle diseases.
- According to the Lancet, India’s burden of non-communicable diseases is escalating, (many of which remain undiagnosed), with over 4 million deaths annually, majorly premature, owing to cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases, and diabetes.
So, it only seems logical that the progression is intercepted as early as possible rather than facing its full brunt, eventually.
This article further explores the significance of preventive health checkups, their features, and the tests one can undergo to maintain good health.
Why Are Preventive Health Checkups Important?
It is rightly said, “Prevention is better than cure.”
That’s what preventive health checkup entails; it strives to work towards disease prevention rather than treatment.
- Disease Prevention: Preventive health checkups help identify disease patterns before symptoms manifest, allowing for timely intervention and reducing risk factors. Regular screenings can detect conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol, which, if left undiagnosed, can lead to serious complications like strokes and heart disease. By addressing these conditions early, individuals can make lifestyle changes or receive appropriate medical treatment to prevent further progression.
- Tax Benefits: Under Section 80D of the Income Tax Act, individuals can avail of tax deductions of up to ₹5,000 for preventive health checks for themselves, their spouse, children, or parents. This incentive encourages individuals to prioritize their health and encourages regular checkups for disease prevention.
- Reduced Distress and Costs: Early diagnosis saves time, effort, and potentially expensive treatments, making preventive health checkups less distressing and more economical. When health issues are identified at an early stage, the treatment options are often less invasive and more effective, resulting in better outcomes and lower healthcare costs.
- Health Awareness: Regular checkups provide insight into your body's status, increasing the chances of living a healthier life. By monitoring key health indicators such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and body mass index (BMI), individuals can take proactive steps to improve their overall well-being. Healthcare professionals can also provide guidance on nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle modifications to promote better health.
- Vaccine-Preventable Diseases: More than 3 million people die each year from diseases that could be prevented by vaccines. Preventive health checkups ensure that individuals stay up-to-date with recommended vaccinations, protecting themselves and their communities from vaccine-preventable illnesses such as influenza, hepatitis, and pneumococcal disease.
- Maintenance of Your Body: Just like any machine or device, your body needs periodic servicing to stay in optimal condition. Preventive health checkups serve as routine maintenance checks for your body, helping to identify any underlying issues or potential risks. By addressing these concerns early on, you can maintain better overall health and prevent the development of chronic conditions.
- Sedentary Lifestyle Challenges: The modern sedentary lifestyle puts individuals at risk of various health issues, including obesity, cardiovascular disease, and musculoskeletal problems. Regular checkups help monitor and address these risks by providing guidance on physical activity, ergonomics, and stress management. By incorporating healthy habits into your daily routine, you can mitigate the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle.
- Environmental Factors: Increasing pollution, adulterated food, and poor healthcare conditions contribute to the incidence and transmission of diseases. Preventive health checkups help identify and manage these factors by assessing overall health and providing recommendations for lifestyle modifications. By taking proactive measures, individuals can reduce their exposure to environmental risks and promote better health outcomes.
- Family History: If you have a family history of certain conditions, regular checkups become even more important for early detection and prevention. Knowing your genetic predispositions can help healthcare professionals tailor screening tests and interventions specific to your needs. By understanding your family's health history, you can take steps to minimize potential risks and adopt preventive measures accordingly.
- Insurance Coverage: Many insurance companies cover the cost of preventive health checkups as part of their healthcare policies. This coverage ensures that individuals have access to essential screenings and tests without incurring significant out-of-pocket expenses. Taking advantage of these benefits can encourage individuals to prioritize their health and undergo regular checkups.
Who Should Undergo Preventive Health Checkups?
Expert opinions suggest that men aged 35 and above and women aged 40 and above should undergo regular health checkups. Individuals with a family history of certain diseases should consider starting checkups a decade earlier. However, it's important to note that age recommendations may vary depending on individual health conditions, risk factors, and professional recommendations.
Consulting with a healthcare professional can provide personalized guidance on when to initiate preventive health checkups.
Tips for Your Checkup:
- Wear comfortable clothes to ensure ease during the examination.
- Follow instructions regarding fasting before tests that require an empty stomach. This may include blood sugar tests or lipid profile tests.
- Avoid wearing jewelry or metallic items that may interfere with certain tests, such as X-rays or MRI scans.
- Inform your doctor about any previous complications or medical history, including current medications and allergies.
This information is crucial for accurate diagnosis and treatment planning.
Common Tests Included in Preventive Health Checkups
- Clinical History Assessment: Healthcare professionals gather information about your medical background, symptoms, and lifestyle factors to understand your overall health status and identify potential risk factors.
- Blood and Urine Tests: These tests evaluate overall health, and organ function, and detect potential abnormalities. Blood tests may include a complete blood count (CBC), liver function tests, kidney function tests, lipid profiles, blood sugar tests, and more. Urine tests can provide information about kidney function, urinary tract infections, and other conditions.
- X-rays: X-rays are commonly used to examine internal structures, and bones, and identify potential issues such as fractures, infections, or tumors. Chest X-rays can help detect conditions affecting the lungs and heart.
- Ultrasonography: Ultrasonography uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of various organs and structures. It is commonly used to assess the abdomen, pelvis, heart, blood vessels, and pregnancy-related evaluations.
- Lung Function Tests: These tests evaluate respiratory health and measure lung capacity, airflow, and gas exchange. Lung function tests can help diagnose conditions such as asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and assess overall lung health.
- Cardiac Tests: Cardiac tests, such as echocardiograms (ECHO), are used to assess heart health and identify any abnormalities in the heart's structure and function. These tests help diagnose conditions such as heart disease, heart valve abnormalities, and heart failure.
- Mammography, Pap Tests, and Pelvic Exams (for Women): Mammography is a specialized X-ray of the breast used to screen for breast cancer. Pap tests and pelvic exams are essential for women's health, helping to detect cervical cancer, and sexually transmitted infections, and assess overall reproductive health.
- Other General Physical Examinations: General physical examinations typically include measurements of weight, height, blood pressure, and pulse rate, and a comprehensive assessment of overall health.
Prioritizing your health through preventive health checkups is a proactive approach to ensuring well-being and longevity. By identifying potential health issues before they become severe, you can take the necessary steps to mitigate risks and maintain a healthier lifestyle. Remember, prevention is better than cure. Invest in your health today through regular checkups, and enjoy a happier, healthier tomorrow.