Are You At Risk? (page 21)

from "A Nurse Practitioner's Guide to Smart Health Choices"

Health risks are universal. Everybody has them. Some you can control and some you can do nothing about. You cannot control your age or your family history. You can control your behaviors.

You may have many health risks and never get sick. Or you may have none, and yet still suffer a catastrophic health event like cancer, a heart attack or stroke. That is the nature of risk. By preparing for things we can control, we are stacking the odds in our favor. Learning about your health risks is the easiest way to acquire essential medical knowledge – specific knowledge that is most relevant to your particular circumstances.

Health risks are markers that warn of current or future health problems. They are literally the crystal ball of your health future. They are absolutely the best point at which to intervene to prevent or interrupt the progression of disease. If you focus your medical care on risk factor reduction, it will not only treat current problems, but it will prevent future ones, too. That’s how you use your health risks to create second chances.

For quite a while now, western culture has slowly convenienced itself into very unhealthy practices. Mass media marketing of the perfect lifestyle of leisure combined with the abundance of quick and easy food choices have made Americans both overweight and inactive. We are trying to convince ourselves that we don’t really have to do anything, and if we wait long enough, whatever we want will be delivered to our door. Is this a lifestyle we want to continue to cultivate? Will it really be able to save us?

No. We are in a state of health emergency. And while there’s a lot wrong with health in America, some things have always been right. This is still one of the greatest countries in the world when it comes to the practice of medicine. But our healthcare system is overburdened, insurance companies are growing more difficult to work with, and so patients are being asked to become more self-reliant. Therefore, you have been voted a managing partner in the maintenance of your own personal health. Your health future depends on the actions you take. If you wait until you are sick to think about your health, you will miss chances that might have kept you well if you had acted sooner.