Preventive medicine keeps you healthy by promoting healthy lifestyles and habits. Primary care providers (PCPs) focus on prevention to help patients avoid chronic diseases or disability. Prevention is particularly important for individuals who have risk factors for one or more conditions.

Preventive services include screening tests, routine exams and medications that aim to prevent illness, or in some cases slow the progression of it.

At Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN), our PCPs follow recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other organizations. Your provider stays current on the latest recommendations for every age group, gender and health category.

Medications to prevent disease

Your PCP will help you keep track of preventive medications that are meant to help you avoid disease or illness. Some examples include:

  • Immunizations (vaccinations) for things like flu, shingles or measles
  • Supplements like vitamin D and calcium to prevent bone loss or bone fractures, and folic acid to prevent birth defects

For some patients, aspirin may be recommended to help prevent a second heart attack or stroke. Due to potential complications, only take aspirin on the advice of your primary care provider.

Health screenings to identify early-stage disease

Screening recommendations vary based on age, gender and risk factors, such as lifestyle choices or having a family member with a disease. Your primary care provider will take these risk factors into account and alert you when you are due for a screening. Examples of screening tests that can prevent disease or identify it in early stages are:

Physical exams to prevent or identify illness

Plan to see your primary care provider (PCP) regularly so they can perform a physical exam, also called a preventive medical checkup. During this important visit, your provider will:

  • Listen to your concerns and answer your health questions
  • Update your medical history
  • Record vital signs such as weight, height, blood pressure and heart rate
  • Listen to your heart and lungs with a stethoscope
  • Review, renew or update medications
  • Answer questions regarding your lifestyle or conditions/concerns
  • Order screening tests and blood work

Depending on your age, health and fitness you may need this type of wellness visit with your PCP yearly, or every couple of years. Other routine exams that you may need include:

  • Eye exam
  • Dental exam
  • Pelvic exam (for women)

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