Preventive healthcare is about knowing. Only people who know their own health risk factors are motivated to make real changes to their lifestyle. That is one of the messages of DIAGNOSTIK ZENTRUM Fleetinsel’s current Prevention Report for which the anonymised data of 6,100 patients were analysed.
The continuation of the long-term study, presented for the first time in 2010, also shows where the participants in the 6,200 medical check-ups need to take special care. Risk factors like overweight, poor blood fat levels and high blood pressure were very common. Take high blood pressure (hypertension) for example. Before the first examination about 75 per cent of the people found to be hypertensive were unaware that their blood pressure was too high.
What’s special about the newly published long-term study is that it uses data from healthy people. The study analysed results for about 3,800 people who attended for regular check-ups.
New culture of preventive healthcare
One development has come to light. Our specialists have also noticed it in their day to day work. “There’s a new culture of prevention in Germany,” says Dr. Tomas Stein, cardiologist and medical director at DIAGNOSTIK ZENTRUM Fleetinsel.
“More and more people are viewing preventive medicine as a worthwhile investment in their health. And more and more companies are offering our medical check-ups to their professional staff and executives.” The number of companies making check-ups available to their top employees rose by 185 per cent between 2002 and 2009 while the number of people undergoing check-ups at their own expense increased by 130 per cent.
Weak points: risk factors for heart attack and stroke
Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in Germany. A crucial part of our preventive check-up is finding out which heart attack and stroke risk factors are present in each individual’s case. High blood pressure, overweight and raised blood fat levels are important pointers. Each of these risk factors can favour arteriosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries). According to the Prevention Report, 46 per cent of those having check-ups were overweight and 11 per cent were actually obese. 54 per cent had worrying levels of LDL (aggressive cholesterol).
Overweight reduced, blood pressure down
The investigators examined various parameters, including BMI (Body Mass index) and blood pressure, to see whether participants were able to improve their health between one check-up and the next. The differences between men and women stand out here. The women who had check-ups were already slimmer and had better blood pressure, blood sugar and blood fat values than the men at the start. Without exception they all managed to achieve normal blood pressure after four check-ups while the number of men with high blood pressure sank by three per cent between the first and fourth check-up. The numbers of overweight women and men fell by four per cent after four check-ups in both cases.
Motivation towards a healthier lifestyle
The improvements show that medical check-ups are both measure and motivation. People who know their own risk factors can also take targeted action to lessen the risk facing them, for example by altering their diet and increasing their activity levels. After the first check-up one in three men and one in three women took more exercise than before. After the second check-up 37 per cent of women and 27 per cent of men were much more active than before.
More movement, healthier diet
When a check-up finds that a person has significant risk factors, the specialists recommend appropriate action. DIAGNOSTIK ZENTRUM Fleetinsel’s movement scientist and nutritionist (a qualified ecotrophologist) provide movement coaching and dietary advice.
Download Prevention Report (PDF, German)