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US report claims that prevention is still the best kind of cure

Supplier: CareWell Health
16 October, 2008

A report in the United States shows that fewer than half of all patients are not receiving the sort of medical tests that can help prevent serious disease.

According to former US Surgeon General, Dr. David Satcher, practitioners are targetting their medical tests as well as they could.

"Basically , these are the preventive health services that offer the biggest bang for the buck. Currently, about 95% of health care dollars in the US are spend on treating disease, with relatively little attention paid to preventing diseases, which should be a national priority."

The US research team reviewed evidence, including more than 8,000 published studies, and amassed the best available data on each type of clinical preventitive service.

Of the 25 top-valued services, the researchers found that seven are used by less than half of US patients who should get the care.

The tests include:

- Using aspirin for men over 40 and women over 50 as a way to reduce heart disease.
- Screening adults for tobacco use, offering them brief counselling and offering medicines and other aids to help them quit.
- Regular screening of colorectal cancer. Although its the second-deadliest cancer, it had a high cure rate when caught early.
- Pneumococcal vaccine for adults older than 65. One does of this shot prevents pneumonia from numerous types of bacterial infection and protects for 10 years. Yet only 45% of seniors have gotten the shot.

Asking adults about alcohol use, it is estimated that if all adults were periodically counselled about drinking, 6,000 deaths and 400,000 injuries a year could be avoided in the US.

Vision screening for older adults - about one out of every four seniors wear inappropriate corrective lenses for their eyes. Getting them the right glasses could not only improve their quality of life and self-sufficiency, but also reduce hip fractures from falls.

A separate report from the National Eye institute released last week, based on a national sample of vision tests, found that the age group most likely to have vision problems that can be corrected, but are not, are those aged 60 and older.