By Aimee Whitfill
Health care costs have skyrocketed in recent years, even for those who have health insurance. Many conditions, such as osteoporosis, stroke, or peripheral artery disease can be devastating financially, because of their long-term effects. The cost savings of preventive health care are huge, and preventive screening for a variety of diseases can give you and your physician valuable information. What can a screening tell you? Below are three conditions that can lead to serious physical and financial consequences if they are not identified early through preventive screening.
Osteoporosis is a condition where the bones become porous and fragile, breaking easily. The breaks are most often found in the hip or wrist, but breaks can occur anywhere in the body. Osteoporosis causes about 1.2 million fractures per year, with an estimated cost of $6.1 billion annually. With the number of elderly rising in the United States, that dollar amount will steadily rise.
To help prevent osteoporosis, make sure you consume adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D, get plenty of weight bearing exercise, limit your intake of sugar and caffeine, and do not smoke cigarettes.
Preventive screening is extremely important, because one out of every two women and one out of every four men over 50 will have an osteoporotic fracture in their lifetime. At the screening, ultrasound will be used to study the heel bone, which closely resembles the hip bone. By studying the results, the screener will determine bone mineral density to calculate your risk.
Strokes kill more than 160,000 annually, and leave many more disabled. The direct and indirect annual cost of strokes has been estimated at about $41 billion annually, with care and rehabilitation after a stroke averaging about $50,000 per person. Fortunately, up to 80 percent of strokes can be avoided if identified early through testing to determine if you are at risk so that you can receive the proper preventive care.
Preventive screening for strokes is most often done with ultrasound technology. The screener will look for plaque build-up in the carotid artery and monitor the velocity of blood flow as well, which can signal a narrowing of the arteries.
Peripheral Artery Disease
If you have peripheral artery disease, which is a narrowing or hardening of arteries in the legs, you are four to six times more likely to die from a heart attack or stroke. This condition, which restricts blood flow, can be quite painful, especially when walking. Warning symptoms include tingling or numbness in the feet or lower legs, sores or ulcers on the legs or feet that will not heal, and leg or foot coldness. The 2004 U.S. census data estimated the total annual costs associated with vascular hospitalizations in patients with PAD were in excess of $21 billion.
To test for PAD, a health professional will conduct a painless test called the Ankle-Brachial Index (ABI). Blood pressure cuffs are placed on the arms and ankles, and the difference in blood pressures will be used to create a ratio (ABI), identify most cases of PAD.
As you can see, the financial consequences of undetected health problems can be almost as devastating as the physical effects. Preventive screening can save you precious dollars and give you a peace of mind. Many mobile screening companies make the process quick and convenient, and many people are able to schedule a screening during their lunch hour.
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