What is Preventive Care? - Definition, Benefits, Importance & Examples

Instructor: John Koshuta
The term preventive care refers to measures that can be taken to avoid health risks, such as screening for potential illnesses. Explore the definition, importance, and examples of the benefits of preventive care for patients and the nation's health system. Updated: 02/07/2022

Defining Preventive Care

When someone integrates healthy behaviors into their lifestyle, they are practicing preventive care. This type of care takes place before any signs or symptoms of a condition or disease have been detected.

Types of Preventive Care

Below are examples of different types of preventive care:

  • Consistent Physical Activity - helps prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer, along with degenerative conditions effecting the muscles and nervous system such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease.
  • Proper Nutrition - eating a wide variety of nutritious foods helps keep the body's systems functioning properly and can prevent conditions such as diabetes.
  • Stress Management - helps individuals prevent short-term conditions such as ulcers and long-term conditions such as heart disease.
  • Avoiding Tobacco - not smoking or chewing, along with avoiding second-hand smoke, can help prevent emphysema and lung cancer.
  • Preventive Screenings - participating in screenings for cancer, heart disease and diabetes allows for proper diagnosis and early treatment.

While preventive care costs much less than treatments in terms of money, it is much more of a long-term investment in terms of time and effort. Education, time management and dedication are all critical to practicing effective preventive care.

Here's an example. Tom is 50 years old and has a family history of heart disease. While he has no heart disease risk factors, he walks three miles per day, avoids fast food and visits his doctor annually. Tom's lifestyle certainly takes time and effort, but could help prevent him from experiencing heart disease like his older family members.

Preventive Care Benefits

The benefits of preventive care are extensive. Below are some of the most important reasons to practice preventive care:

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