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THE MEDICINE OF PREVENTION
Annual visits help patients avoid disease
Preventive medicine is important in combating these conditions that sometimes have no signs or symptoms.

How do you introduce yourself to someone? You may talk about where you were born, the school you attended, the job you have or the hobbies you practice. When some people think about seeing a physician, however, they often think short-term, such as a specific joint pain or a headache. They don’t always consider how to take steps to prevent disease in the first place.

Peter Jungblut, M.D., a WellStar Medical Group physician at WellStar’s East Cobb Health Park, emphasizes the importance of approaching your annual physician’s visit as a measure of prevention. To help a patient prevent disease, the physician must understand a patient’s health history in the context of a patient’s lifestyle and other social and environmental factors that play an important role in the patient’s overall health.

“We’re getting away from calling it a ‘physical’. We prefer to call it as an annual wellness visit or well checkup,” Dr. Jungblut said. “We examine both the body and the mind, walking through lifestyle and diet, screening for depression, checking on relationships and stressors at work or school to ensure that patients have all of these factors within reasonable control.”

Steps to prevention Immunizations and screenings are a big part of preventive care. From babies to adults, keeping vaccines up-to-date is a key factor in a healthy life. Each age also brings the need for specific screenings.

“When patients turn 50, for instance, we recommend screening for prostate, colon and breast cancer. Sometimes these screenings are done earlier depending on the patient’s family history,” Dr. Jungblut said.

When these conditions are detected earlier, treatment is usually more effective.

For some other conditions, Dr. Jungblut said that changes in lifestyle can reverse or slow their progression, such as in the case of diabetes.

“If a patient can improve his or her metabolic function through exercise and diet, we’ll recommend that path to them. We don’t want to put patients on medication if we can manage their condition through other means,” he said. “It’s also important for patients to make healthy changes in their lives and not rely entirely on medication to do the work for them.”

Preventive medicine is important in combating these conditions that sometimes have no signs or symptoms.

“I have a patient in his 40s who seemed like a really healthy guy when he came into the office for the first time. He exercised and had what appeared to be a good diet: maybe a few unhealthy snacks on the weekends but nothing excessive. When his lab tests came back, we found that he had diabetes,” Dr. Jungblut said. “He made significant changes to his diet, eating lean protein and cutting down on carbohydrates. He also started exercising more. His numbers have changed remarkably for the better through his willpower and determination to be healthy.”

Quest for health Over the last few years, Dr. Jungblut has noticed more patients scheduling preventive doctor visits and doing research on their own to prepare for those visits.

“We have a generation of younger patients who are comfortable looking up information on the internet and searching for a physician before a condition develops. The ask informed questions about what they read online or hear on TV,” he said.

For Dr. Jungblut, the more patients read and study before their visit, the better.

“It’s very helpful when they’ve thought about it or read about it. The conversation becomes more productive and patients accept treatment more easily,” he said. “After the first visit, patients begin seeing that preventive care is more than just a bunch of lab tests. It’s about establishing a relationship with a provider and addressing issues before they become serious problems.”

To schedule an appointment with WellStar Family Medicine in East Cobb, call 770-973-2272.