- She stays active and moves daily.
- She pays attention to what she eats.
- She has a strong social life with friends and family (good relationships are important for health).
Most of the time, we see eye-to-eye on health and wellness. I often hold her up as an example of how to stay healthy (and, no, I don’t think I’m biased…well, that much).
During a recent visit, though, we had a little argument about her health.
And it had to do with “Preventive Screening.”
What happened was she went off and paid $50 for “5 Discounted Screening Exams.” Then she wanted to tell me about her results.
(Not on topic but important: These exams appeared to be offered your local hospital or church but are performed by an outside business. These companies “sell” these screening services to hospitals and churches to drum up business.)
Unfortunately, as soon as she started talking I was less interested in what they found and more interested in what and why were they ‘screening’ her?
I started questioning…
“Why did you get these tests?”
“What were they for?”
And the big one…
“How would these tests change anything you’re doing now?”
The discussion that ensued was…passionate…because on the surface these “prevention screenings” sound like a good idea.
After all, wouldn’t you want to know if something is “wrong with you” before anything bad happened?
And isn’t “prevention” more desireable the “reaction?”
But here’s the thing with many of these ‘prevention screenings.’ They often find “wrong things” that aren’t wrong. They can also lead to dangerous “reactions” that don’t prevent anything or, worse, cause harm.
Two of these “screenings” have a grade of “D” (for “discourage use”) from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.
One of the “screening” tests offered has no good evidence to support widespread use.
Finally, the last two have very specific indications for when they are appropriate and when they are not.
And nowhere, in the pamphlet, on the website, or anywhere else was it discussed how these “prevention screenings” can cause harm.
How harm can happen and what is true “preventive care” are the topics for this episode of Straight Shot Health Talk.
Also, if questions come up please ask them because I know this can be confusing.
Links for this episode:
• Screening for Atrial Fibrillation.
(I could not find a good link for this. Instead, I found a bunch of journal articles debating “silent” atrial fibrillation (people with atrial fibrillation but who don’t feel it or have symptoms). Blood thinning medications were then discussed as “treatment.” Of course, blood thinning medications have their own risks associated with them and only treat the symptom of afib but that’s our healthcare system for you…)
• Heel Bone Mineral Density for Osteoporosis (Make sure you look at the “What can you do to protect your bones? section…)
(Make sure you look at the “What can you do to protect your bones? section. Those recommendations look a lot like these for preventing carotid artery disease.)