Letter to the Editor- From Suffolk County Legislator William Spencer
Prevention is one of the most important aspects of living a healthy and long life; however recent studies indicate that millions of children, adolescents, and adults in the United States do not receive crucial services such as routine screenings and annual check-ups. Recognizing that preventive care is the key to good health and wellbeing, my colleagues and I have declared May “Preventive Healthcare Month” in Suffolk County. In passing this bill, we hope to encourage residents to prioritize themselves and resolve to make healthy choices to guard against preventable chronic diseases that account for 7 out of 10 deaths among Americans each year. Small changes can make a huge difference in the long run. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”… and that starts with you.
Preventive care can help patients avoid serious problems and is vital in helping to detect illness or disease at an early stage when treatment is likely to work best. The combination of an annual check-up, screenings, and patient counseling allows healthcare providers to establish a baseline for an individual’s general health, and directs them as they work with their patients to determine personal wellness goals to manage overall health. Preventive services include immunizations, physical evaluations, lab work, and other medically appropriate screenings determined by factors such age, gender, overall health status, personal and family health history, and current symptoms.
Risk of chronic disease can be reduced through lifestyle choices which play a critical role. Maintaining a healthy weight, eating nutritiously, getting active, managing stress, avoiding tobacco and limiting alcohol use are some of the most simple, yet effective defense options. For example, a sustained weight loss of 10-15 pounds reduces the risk of diabetes by 58%, a 12-13-point reduction in systolic blood pressure can reduce cardiovascular disease deaths by 25%, and a 10% decrease in total cholesterol levels reduces the risk for coronary heart disease by 30% (CDC).
Suffolk County offers a variety of services and classes to help residents manage their health, including the Diabetes Prevention Program, Smoking Cessation Classes, the Immunization Action Program, and the Falls Prevention Program. In addition, the Health Department through the Bureau of Public Health Nursing offers resources to help vulnerable populations with prenatal/postpartum care, chronic disease prevention and management, wound care, and also provides child abuse and neglect referrals. Visit Suffolkcountyny.gov/health for more details.
In the spirit of Preventive Healthcare Month, please take the time to talk with your medical provider about what preventive care steps you can take now to protect you and your family.
William R. Spencer, M.D.
Suffolk County Legislator 18th Legislative District