12 - The 3 levels of health care

3 levels of health care

The 3 levels of health care


1. Symptom care:

This is the basic level of health care. It is where we wait until we have a noticeable pain or symptom that then prompts us to seek treatment. For example, as we discovered last time, our number one health threat is heart disease, this would be like waiting until we had chest pain or worse, a heart attack, before we had our heart health checked.  The limitation or problem with only seeking health care when you have a pain or problem is that many diseases and conditions only cause symptoms when they are very severe, and sometimes, by the time you get symptoms it is too late for effective treatment…

In our heart disease example, the first symptom that many people with heart disease get is a heart attack, often fatal. The very sobering statistic is that an estimated 40% of people who die from heart disease are dead within one hour of their first symptom...

 Something else to know, 87% of people who survived heart attacks had made it to hospital within one hour of their first symptom, do not wait, call an ambulance and get to hospital, medical doctors now have medicines that will stop a heart attack and increase your chances of survival.

Heart attack symptoms are chest pain (squeezing, fullness, “indigestion”, “heartburn”) arm, neck, jaw pain, shortness of breath and nausea.

While, we should get pains, symptoms and concerns checked when they occur, to optimize our health and wellbeing we need to take action before symptoms appear (which means while you still feel fine)….

2. Early detection:

This is the next (intermediate) level of health care. This is where we have “check ups” to detect for diseases and conditions, and check for the risk factors for the diseases and conditions. For example, again using heart disease, you get your blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar (diabetes) checked to see if they are in the normal range. Cancer screening tests would also fall into this category as well. There is general agreement that this testing is important, triggers earlier treatment, and provides significant improvements in health and wellbeing….

However, it’s not always as effective as we might hope or think, in treating the risk factors or preventing the disease. And most people do these first 2 levels and we are still only averaging 64 “healthy years”, if we want better outcomes, we need to do something extra, like…

3. Prevention / Wellness:

This is the third (higher) level of health care. I like to call this health promotion and risk reduction. This is where you undertake activities to help reduce your risk of developing diseases and even the risk of developing the risk factors for the diseases, as well as, increase your quality of life. 80% of us will have our quality of life and lifespan itself cut short by chronic disease. Chronic disease is often referred to as “lifestyle disease” because they are largely thought to be caused by lifestyle choices and activities. Medical researchers suggest we could reduce our risk of chronic disease by up to 30-50% by adopting healthier habits in the areas of diet, exercise, mental / emotional stress, smoking, sleep. In our next blog post we will look at some of these recommendations of what to do and how to do it, don’t worry it is pretty easy…

Ps. Just so we are clear, we recommend doing all 3 levels of health care.

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