The old adage “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” takes on more truth these days than ever, especially with the inconvenience, toxicity, and cost of “cures”. And when it comes to stage IV cancer, cures are a precious few.
Don’t put yourself and your family through the heartbreak of an incurable and painful condition just because you were too busy to get a check up. When it comes to prevention, heart disease is the first place to invest your time and money. One out of two men and women in the U.S. will die of heart disease. 50% of those who die of a heart attack will die on their first attack without having experienced any previous chest pain. Just because you don’t have chest pain when you run to the top of the mountain does not mean you won’t drop dead tonight of a heart attack. This is because heart attacks are not caused by occlusion of the coronary arteries, but by a coronary artery plaque of any size that ruptures. The only cost-effective way to estimate your plaque burden is to do a CT scan that shows your coronary calcium score and compares it to age-matched controls.
Athletes can look good on an exercise stress test, even when they have significant, greater than 50% occlusions of their coronary arteries. Don’t guess when it comes to heart disease, or be falsely reassured by a normal labs, blood pressures, or a normal ECG stress treadmill. A CT scan of the heart in our area costs $375, and is not always covered by insurance.
Dr. Gardner will let you know when it is time to invest in this technology. We follow standard recommendations when it comes to cancer screening. Most common cancers, such as those of the breast, skin, prostate, thyroid and colon, are caught early and have very good cure rates. Some malignancies may still be difficult, even if found early, like liver, pancreas, brain, and lung cancer. However, your options and outcomes are certainly better if found early through a preventative program of regular physicals and immediate evaluation of new symptoms and complaints. In addition, many conditions have less permanent internal injury and better therapeutic choices if found early, including diabetes, iron overload (hemochromatosis), gout, arthritis, osteoporosis, thyroid imbalances, Lyme disease, and on and on. Be responsible for your health. Invest as much in keeping yourself going as you do your car. Start by coming in for a yearly physical. And then be a squeaky wheel when it comes to complaining about any new problem that is undiagnosed.