By: Victor E. Battles, M.D.
Proactive health is a term coined by the author to represent the state of well-being and degree of improved
health resulting from actions undertaken by an individual to promote and achieve the goal of improved health. The
measures or actions on which it is based are directed towards disease prevention, early detection of disease,
improved quality of professional health care and improved professional healthcare results.
Although absolute predictions of the degree of health improvement resulting from proactive measures cannot be made,
subjective and objective manifestations of improvement such as enhanced stamina, reduction or elimination of
pain, better sleep, peace of mind, lowering of blood pressure, healthy weight loss and improved control of diabetes
can certainly be recognized and appreciated. Additionally, there is convincing literature supporting the
health benefits resulting from the reduction or elimination of risk factors for various diseases.
In order to implement proactive health strategies it might be necessary to educate oneself by viewing
written and/or video information to acquire knowledge and understanding of certain risk factors such as tobacco
smoking, elevated blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and a positive family history as they relate to heart
Familiarity with your family history can also be helpful in determining which proactive measures apply to
you. For example, if there is a history of cancer or cardiovascular disease in the family, quitting smoking should
be a proactive measure undertaken with a goal of prevention. If there is a family history of diabetes mellitus and
you are obese or overweight, weight loss through improved diet and exercise should be considered as possible means
of preventing the development of diabetes.
Some risk factors for disease can be reduced or eliminated by proactive health actions alone such as smoking
cessation or weight reduction, but others might require targeted risk screening tests which can detect risk factors
such as diabetes or elevated cholesterol. Screening tests for identification of disease risk factors and for early
disease detection can be ordered by a physician at the time of a yearly wellness visit. They can also be ordered
without a doctor's request through an online laboratory service and performed with some test kits at home.
The more active role of patients in their health care, which is the foundation of proactive health, should not be a
substitute for professional advice and guidance through a provider/patient relationship, but can be a valuable
supplement. In the midst of a healthcare paradigm shift in which physicians and other healthcare providers are
being mandated to engage patients more in their healthcare, proactive health measures undertaken by patients
can facilitate the transition. Greater engagement of patients in their health care will not only increase patients'
understanding of their health care and their state of health, but will also aid physicians and other health care
providers in providing improved health care at the most affordable price.
This article is for informational purpose only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical consultation with
a qualified professional. The author encourages Internet users to be careful when using medical information
obtained from the Internet and to consult your physician if you are unsure about your medical condition.