Preventive healthcare (alternately preventive medicine, preventative healthcare/medicine, or prophylaxis) consists of measures taken for disease prevention, as opposed to disease treatment. Just as
Each year, millions of people die of preventable deaths. A 2004 study showed that about half of all deaths in the United States in 2000 were due to preventable behaviors and exposures. Leading causes included
There are many methods for prevention of disease. It is recommended that adults and children aim to visit their doctor for regular check-ups, even if they feel healthy, to perform disease
Preventive healthcare strategies are described as taking place at the primal, primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention levels. In the 1940s, Hugh R. Leavell and E. Gurney Clark coined the term primary prevention. They worked at the Harvard and Columbia University Schools of Public Health, respectively, and later expanded the levels to include secondary and tertiary prevention. Goldston (1987) notes that these levels might be better described as "prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation", though the terms primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention are still in use today. The concept of primal prevention has been created much more recently, in relation to the new developments in molecular biology over the last fifty years , more particularly in epigenetics, which point to the paramount importance of environmental conditions - both physical and affective - on the organism during its fetal and newborn life (or so-called primal life).
|Primal and primordial prevention||Any measure aimed at helping future parents provide their upcoming child with adequate attention, as well as secure physical and affective environments from conception to first birthday (i.e., over the child's primal period of life).|
|Methods to avoid occurrence of disease either through eliminating disease agents or increasing resistance to disease. Examples include |
|Methods to detect and address an existing disease prior to the appearance of symptoms. Examples include treatment of |
|Methods to reduce the harm of symptomatic disease, such as disability or death, through rehabilitation and treatment. Examples include surgical procedures that halt the spread or progression of disease|
|Methods to mitigate or avoid results of unnecessary or excessive interventions in the health system|
A separate category of "
Primary prevention consists of traditional "
Food is very much the most basic tool in preventive health care. The 2011 National Health Interview Survey performed by the Centers for Disease Control was the first national survey to include questions about ability to pay for food. Difficulty with paying for food, medicine, or both is a problem facing 1 out of 3 Americans. If better food options were available through food banks, soup kitchens, and other resources for low-income people, obesity and the chronic conditions that come along with it would be better controlled  A "food desert" is an area with restricted access to healthy foods due to a lack of supermarkets within a reasonable distance. These are often low-income neighborhoods with the majority of residents lacking transportation . There have been several grassroots movements in the past 20 years to encourage urban gardening, such as the GreenThumb organization in New York City. Urban gardening uses vacant lots to grow food for a neighborhood and is cultivated by the local residents. Mobile fresh markets are another resource for residents in a "food desert", which are specially outfitted buses bringing affordable fresh fruits and vegetables to low-income neighborhoods. These programs often hold educational events as well such as cooking and nutrition guidance. Programs such as these are helping to provide healthy, affordable foods to people who need them.
Scientific advancements in genetics have significantly contributed to the knowledge of hereditary diseases and have facilitated great progress in specific protective measures in individuals who are carriers of a disease gene or have an increased predisposition to a specific disease. Genetic testing has allowed physicians to make quicker and more accurate diagnoses and has allowed for tailored treatments or
Secondary prevention deals with latent diseases and attempts to prevent an asymptomatic disease from progressing to symptomatic disease. Certain diseases can be classified as primary or secondary. This depends on definitions of what constitutes a disease, though, in general, primary prevention addresses the root cause of a disease or injury whereas secondary prevention aims to detect and treat a disease early on. Secondary prevention consists of "early diagnosis and prompt treatment" to contain the disease and prevent its spread to other individuals, and "disability limitation" to prevent potential future complications and disabilities from the disease. For example, early diagnosis and prompt treatment for a syphilis patient would include a course of antibiotics to destroy the pathogen and screening and treatment of any infants born to syphilitic mothers. Disability limitation for syphilitic patients includes continued check-ups on the heart, cerebrospinal fluid, and central nervous system of patients to curb any damaging effects such as blindness or paralysis.
Finally, tertiary prevention attempts to reduce the damage caused by symptomatic disease by focusing on mental, physical, and social rehabilitation. Unlike secondary prevention, which aims to prevent disability, the objective of tertiary prevention is to maximize the remaining capabilities and functions of an already disabled patient. Goals of tertiary prevention include: preventing pain and damage, halting progression and complications from disease, and restoring the health and functions of the individuals affected by disease. For syphilitic patients, rehabilitation includes measures to prevent complete disability from the disease, such as implementing work-place adjustments for the blind and paralyzed or providing counseling to restore normal daily functions to the greatest extent possible.