Our vitality is key to life satisfaction. Those who are protected from diseases have more time in life for the things that are important to them. However, the key to good health is not primarily to treat existing symptoms, but to prevent them. Preventive medicine is therefore an important measure for a happy, healthy and fit life. What exactly do these goals actually pursue? What measures are possible within the framework of preventive medicine? And how does it affect not only the individual, but also the whole of society? You can find some of the answers here.
What does preventive medicine mean and what does it include?
In principle, preventive medicine is the opposite of curative or reparative medicine. The guiding principle of preventive medicine is: “Prevention is the best medicine”. But anyone who thinks that preventive medicine is synonymous with the general concept of preventive care is wrong. Because preventive medicine can and does so much more. A key measure here is the determination of risk factors, whereby the focus is on people as individuals. Therefore, questions such as:
- Is there a genetic predisposition or a family history of certain diseases?
- Could a particular lifestyle lead to particular complaints?
- Do certain living conditions suggest that there may be health risks?
The risk factors are diligently analyzed so that the results depict a precise picture of how you should behave in order to avoid these health complaints as much as possible. All of this follows the motto: “Prevention is better than cure.” The latter belongs more in the field of curative, established medicine. This only starts when the illness or health impairment has already occurred. Preventive medicine, on the other hand, primarily pursues the major goal of preventing such complaints from occurring in the first place. The most common illnesses that lead to serious impairments such as being bedridden, loss of mobility or need of care include high blood pressure, being overweight, diabetes, stroke, heart attack, cancer and osteoporosis. There are also neurodegenerative diseases. These include dementia and Parkinson’s.
This must be prevented with the optimal, individually tailored prevention measures. Preventive medicine distinguishes between three different areas of prevention:
The main thing here is to protect your health. There are various options available for this, such as vaccinations, measures to prevent accidents, nutritional medicine or sports medicine. Preventive measures in the field of dentistry are also part of primary preventive medicine. For example, regular professional tooth cleaning is intended to prevent tooth decay and gum diseases such as periodontitis, because a beautiful smile is also part of a healthy person.
If an illness has already occurred, it is of the utmost importance that it is recognized as early as possible. This gives you the best possible chance of a cure, so that you can quickly get well again. Secondary prevention has therefore made the early detection of diseases a major goal. Measures in this field of prevention also include preventing or slowing the progression of a disease. A specific example of this would be promoting the health of sick people through micronutrient medicine or stress coping. Cancer screening, newborn screening and many other preventive measures for high-risk patients are also part of this prevention area.
It is used when an illness has already manifested itself. This type of prevention is to be understood as damage limitation, which aims to prevent the progression of a disease and / or to avoid complications and consequential damage. It plays an important role for chronically ill patients in particular, so that they can continue to feel as comfortable as possible despite the illness and can look forward to their future with care. Preventive medicine offers rehabilitation stays and cures that support people in their recovery and make it easier for them to re-enter everyday life.
What diagnostic options does preventive medicine offer?
Modern diagnostics represent an important pillar of preventive medicine because even with good prevention, illnesses can still occur. It is of immense importance here that these are diagnosed as early as possible in order to have a good chance of successful healing.
The diagnostic methods that preventive medicine offers in a wide variety of fields include:
- sonography (ultrasound diagnostics)
- radiology (magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography, PET-CT)
- diagnostic laboratory tests
- genetic studies
- skin cancer screening or
- electrical impedance analysis to measure nutritional status, body composition and training status
Preventive medicine: hugely important for society and health care
The advantages of preventive medicine for the individual are obvious. We all not only want to grow old, we also want to age as healthy and happy as possible. But would you have thought that preventive medicine also plays a crucial role in our society?
This is developing rapidly in terms of demographics. The proportion of the aging population is steadily increasing. Since this demographic shows a higher risk for certain diseases – often referred to as so-called widespread diseases – this demographic change also increases the costs and challenges for society as a whole, in particular for the health system.
According to studies, the population of Germany should be less than 60 million people by 2050, of whom a significantly larger proportion will be older than has been the case to date. According to these statistics, almost every second resident would be older than 80 years.  Against this background, it becomes clear that protecting the health of our population should not only be a goal for the individual, but for our entire society.
In order to ensure a society with the best possible health status, preventive medicine begins at a young age. There are special offers for children and young people to show them how to pursue a healthy lifestyle. In addition to exercise programs, this also includes nutritional programs and much more. For adults, the focus is on ensuring performance at work and in everyday life, preventing diseases that are typical of these age groups and recognizing them early. The most modern diagnostic methods of preventive medicine are available for this, some of which you have already learned about in this article. And in the senior citizens group, the focus is on helping them to achieve the best possible health in old age and to gain vital, high-quality years of life for them.