• Prevention Overview
• Preventive Services
• Cancer Screening for Early Detection: Breast, Cervical (Pap & HPV),Colorectal, Prostate & Skin
• Chronic diseases: diabetes, heart disease and stroke
• Fitness and Weight
• Genetic Testing
• HIV & Hepatitis Testing
• Immunizations
• Tobacco

Other sections in the Health Resource Guide that offer relevant resources include:
• Cancer Section
• Eyecare – see Vision Section
• Hearing Section
• Diabetes – see Disease Specific Resources Section
• Exercise and General Health
• Health Insurance Section
• Hospitals and Health Facilities
• Infectious diseases – see Disease Specific Resources Section
• Mental health conditions and substance abuse – see Mental Health Section
• Nutrition Section

By Dr. Jeffrey Engel of Optimum Health and Wellness, PLLC

Health is commonly described as the absence of disease. Therefore when people are asked if they are healthy, many believe they are because they lack the
physical signs or symptoms associated with disease. When these same people were asked what it takes to stay healthy, the most common response was to eat well and exercise. A recent CDC report indicated that 90% of Americans rate their health as “good” or better. Despite this fact, as a country we spend more than any other country (>$2 trillion) in healthcare, but rank a dismal 38th in overall health. This may be difficult to believe, but we all know of someone who ate well and exercised regularly yet still fell victim to a heart attack or a cancer diagnosis. Clearly there is more to the puzzle.

Recent research is showing that many disease processes begin years before physical symptoms occur. Research is starting to agree with basic human physiology in understanding that the disease process begins with a process known as inflammation. Many of us have experienced inflammation in the form of trauma, such as a sprained ankle. However, this type of inflammation occurs at a subclinical level. In other words, inflammation occurs despite no physical signs or symptoms. This discovery led to TIME magazine featuring an article entitled “Inflammation, The Secret Killer” linking inflammation to heart disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer and many other diseases. Today it is estimated that over 85% of all diseases can be linked to this inflammatory process.

Now that we have an understanding of the inflammatory process that eventually leads to disease as well as a general decline in our health, we need to look into what we can do to prevent this process from occurring. Please refer to the online version for a more detailed explanation of each section.

Nutrition (see the Nutrition Section for more information):  Perhaps one of the most important aspects when it comes to combating inflammation is what we decide to eat every day. For thousands of years our ancestors consumed a diet of whole, unprocessed foods, without additives, sweeteners, or preservatives. As a result they never experienced many of the diseases we face today.

Exercise:  Regular exercise is vital for our overall health as well as prevention of certain diseases. However, there is much confusion on what the right way to exercise truly is. If exercise is done correctly, we can effectively build muscle and burn fat. If we exercise too much or do the wrong type, research shows that it may actually induce the inflammatory process.

Stress Management:  We can all agree we live in a fast paced world with endless deadlines and demands for our time. We are more stressed today than we’ve ever been. When the body is faced with stress, it reverts to a state of survival until the stress is gone. During this process the body puts all of its energy and resources into
surviving. Therefore, if we cannot effectively deal with stress, our body begins sacrificing its own health for the sake of survival.

Environmental Factors:  Another major cause of inflammation is toxins. We cannot seem to go anywhere today without being exposed to some type of chemical or toxin. Whether it’s from cleaning solutions, pesticides, food additives, or even our own stress hormones our body must deal with a constant bombardment of toxins. Research has shown that what we are exposed to in our daily environment can actually trigger our genes to express disease.

Preventive Services:  can both prevent and detect illnesses and diseases—from flu to cancer—in their earlier, more treatable stages, significantly reducing the risk of illness, disability, early death, and medical care costs. Some services also provide counseling and education to help empower individuals to better manage their illnesses and reduce risk factors for diseases and their complications.

Preventive Screenings: to get a personalized list of recommended health screenings see Screenings are medical tests to check for diseases such as diabetes and cancer. Getting screened is one of the best things you can do for your health. Most diseases are easier to treat when they are found early, so getting screened can help you stay healthy. You and your health care practitioner can decide together which tests are right for you by discussing: your risk for different health conditions based on your medical history and family history, your values, which screening tests you may need this year and the pros and cons of each test.

Costs of Preventive Care:  Under the Affordable Care Act, you and your family may be eligible for some important preventive services — which can help you avoid illness and improve your health — at no additional cost to you. These include preventive exams, health and cancer screenings, immunizations, and much more. For details, see the adults, women & children’s pages:

Insurance: Preventive Screenings and Services are now being covered by most insurance providers without deductible or co-pay, under the Affordable Health Care Act. There are exceptions, however, so check with your insurance provider for details on your coverage. Uninsured, eligible residents of Montana with
pre-existing conditions can apply for coverage through the state’s Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan program run by the Montana Comprehensive Health Association; call 1-800-447 7828 x2128 or visit A federally operated Health Insurance Exchange will be available in Montana beginning 10/1/13; see: insurance-exchange. See the Health Insurance section for more information.

Medicaid: Preventive Screenings are covered by both Basic and Full Medicaid. EPSDT is the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment portion of Medicaid. It is available for all children in Medicaid from birth through age 20. Montana has a new Health Improvement Program for Medicaid and HMK Plus
patients with chronic illnesses or risks of developing serious health conditions.

Medicare: Preventive Services are covered, including an Annual Wellness Visit, Alcohol Misuse Counseling, Cancer Screenings, Flu Shots, and Tobacco Cessation Counseling. For more information, see “Your Guide to Medicare’s Preventive Services” (32 page booklet) or the Medicare website at

State Health Insurance Program (SHIP) Assistance: Missoula Aging Services’ certified SHIP Counselors can assist in maneuvering through the complicated Medicare and Medicaid systems – helping to identify your eligibility for programs, information on how to access them and to also what programs will cover. They also may advocate for you or refer you to other supportive services. Call 728-7682.

View Prevention Resources