Has our culture become obsessed with preventive medicine? According to some recent researches, this could be doing more harm than good. The goal of preventive medicine is to prevent illness and unnecessary health care, yet billions of dollars are spent each year on diagnosing healthy people.
In addition to wasted money and resources, all of this preventive medicine appears to do little good. It is estimated that about 30 percent of all medical procedures, prescriptions, and tests are unnecessary. Over 750 billion dollars is wasted each year on preventive medicine, according to some statistics.
Annual Physicals May Do More Harm Than Good
One form of preventive medicine that has been singled out as a possibly unnecessary process is the traditional annual physical. Physicals are the primary reason for doctor’s visits, with about $10 billion being spent on these physicals and the tests performed during the examination.
Research suggests that this annual visit has not provided any significant boost to the health of the public. There are a few notable exceptions, such as early detection of cancer and other illnesses, but these cases are rare compared to the vast number of moderately healthy people that do not need an examination.
When a healthy person visits the doctor for a physical, they will likely go through a series of tests that may not provide any health benefits. These tests are designed to diagnose and rule out medical conditions. Essentially, these visits are not preventing anything. They are simply reaffirming that the person is indeed healthy.
Many doctors are suggesting that instead of spending this time and money on yearly examinations for healthy people, hospitals and care centers should focus on targeting patients that are actually sick.
Prostate Exams And Mammograms
Over half of older men will have some type of prostate problem. Due to this high rate, routine prostate screening does not really provide any value. Studies show that these exams do not have any impact on mortality rates. This is an example of how regular exams may do more harm than good.
Unnecessary prostate treatments and false positive tests result in surgery and prostate removal that is not required. It is estimated that for every 15 prostates that are removed, only one cancer death is prevented. In addition to being ineffective, prostate surgery holds the potential for severe side effects.
Mammograms are similarly ineffective at detecting or diagnosing breast cancer. About one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime, yet four in eight will receive a false positive diagnosis. False positives can lead to medical complications and even death, due to unnecessary chemotherapy or surgery. And those who are generally healthy are unnecessarily exposed to harmful radiation.
Test Your Blood Pressure
While statistics and research are beginning to show that an annual physical may not be very effective at preventing illnesses, there are a few tests that you may want to consider getting on an annual basis. For example, getting your blood pressure tested could be useful.
Blood pressure can fluctuate based on your lifestyle. When you make changes to your diet, your blood pressure could increase or decrease.
While you may be losing weight by cutting carbs or counting calories, you may want to check your blood pressure to ensure you are not consuming too much fat or sugar.
By keeping track of your blood pressure, you know whether you are on the right track with your diet. The ideal blood pressure is typically 120 over 80, for adults.
Should You Schedule A Yearly Physical?
This information is not intended to keep you from visiting your doctor. If you have an actual concern, you should schedule a visit. For example, if you notice a lump or are experiencing health complications. As far as regular checkups, the latest research indicates that you may want to wait until you have an actual reason to see your doctor.