Encourage Healthy and Safe Habits

What percentage of your patients see you specifically for a well-visit? Most likely, it's not many. And even they are probably harboring treatable, yet avoidable conditions.

Here are the leading causes of preventable diseases in the U.S.* that most of your patients can, with your help, take steps to avoid:

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Overweight/obesity
  • Inadequate physical activity
  • High blood sugar
  • High LDL cholesterol
  • High dietary salt
  • Low dietary omega-3 fatty acids (seafood)
  • High dietary trans fatty acids
  • Alcohol use
  • Substance/drug abuse
  • Bicycle helmet/seatbelt use
  • Low intake of fruits and vegetables
  • Low dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids

When your patients yield to any of these causes, they may become victims of one or more of the avoidable conditions listed below. But every office visit is an opportunity to educate your patients on how to avoid these diseases, which at best can drain their quality of life and perhaps take it altogether.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases/Infections (STDs/STIs)

   Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

  • HPV vaccines can protect both males and females against some of the most common types of HPVs


  • Promote safer sex practices and recommend chlamydia screenings


  • Promote safer sex habits, routine screenings and availability of pre and post-exposure prophylaxis


   Cervical Cancer

  • HPV vaccines can protect females against HPV 16 and HPV 18, which are involved in the development of most cases of cervical cancer

   Colorectal Cancer

  • Identify risk factors such as age, inflammatory bowel disease and family history
  • Administer colonoscopy screening as appropriate

   Breast Cancer

  • Identify risk factors such as exposure to chest radiation, high alcohol intake and family history
  • Offer routine examinations and screenings

Lifestyle Choices


  • Smoking raises the risk of most kinds of cancer, respiratory conditions, heart attack and stroke
  • Offer nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), as appropriate, to people who plan to stop smoking


  • Routinely measure blood sugar and A1c levels
  • Offer and reinforce preventive lifestyle choices pertaining to diet and exercise

   Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)

  • Routinely measure blood pressure
  • Offer and reinforce preventive lifestyle choices

   Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

  • Influenza, pneumonia and pertussis vaccines can help reduce the chances of COPD
  • Identify risk factors such as smoking, occupational exposure to toxins and one or more of the following symptoms: breathlessness, chronic cough, frequent winter 'bronchitis' or wheezing

Sadly, 7 out of 10 deaths among Americans each year are from chronic diseases.1 Your challenge is to help your patients improve these odds. Learn how by referring to the following sections in the Provider Toolkit:

*Danaei G, Ding EL, Mozaffarian D, Taylor B, Rehm J, Murray CJL, Ezzati M. The Preventable Causes of Death in the United States: Comparative Risk Assessment of Dietary, Lifestyle, and Metabolic Risk Factors. PLoS Med 2009; 6(4): e1000058. Available from www.plosmedicine.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000058.

1 *Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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