Saturday, October 21, 2006

HealthWISE - creating new markets by scanning for presymptomatic diseases

HealthWISE - creating new markets by scanning for presymptomatic diseases: "HealthWISE is more than just a screening facility. It is a doctor-referred wellness diagnostic center specializing in the detection of common, 'pre-symptomatic' diseases—cardiovascular and vascular disease, lung and colon cancers and osteoporosis. These diseases share numerous characteristics. They all have the potential to be treatable or preventable if diagnosed early and they share many risk factors, including diet, inactivity, smoking and family history, among others. Following diagnostic testing, a specific individualized wellness strategy (the HealthPATH) is provided to each patient and his or her doctor. What is the difference between screening and "pre-symptomatic" disease?
Screening is a generic term that has both good and bad implications. For instance, should all individuals be "screened" by age 30 for cholesterol? The answer is YES. However, should all individuals with high cholesterol before age 30 be given life-long drugs to lower cholesterol? The answer is NO. Individuals being evaluated for "pre-symptomatic" disease are those who, together with their doctor, determine that age, gender, medical history, environment, lifestyle, or heredity gives them a "better-than-even chance" for premature but preventable disease—such as heart/vascular disease, lung/colon cancer, and osteoporosis. Using the knowledge of the presence or absence of early disease, specific recommendations can be made to help maintain personal health and wellness."

This is a clever approach to increasing the market for the new scanners. All of us are "presymptomatic" patients after all ! The key question, which has never been answered as yet, is whether picking up these diseases early affects their natural history. It's tempting ( and logical ) to assume that the sooner we diagnose a disease the more effective our treatment will be, but no one knows if this is true or not !


  1. Anonymous6:06 PM

    Maybe it is a good idea.Knowing that they are high-risk may be the one thing that prompts a person to change their bad habits or take precautions or preventive medication. If even one person is saved from an unexpected first heart attack which proves fatal ,its worth it.
    For those trying to concieve, a checkup before starting could be done just to rule out factors which may not totally prevent conception but which are treatable and which affect chances(eg tsh,prolactin,pcos screen, infection screen, sa). At the same consultation a little info on the fertile period etc can be given.If thyroid/pcos or other health problems are found its better they are treated even before starting ttc.

  2. Anonymous6:20 PM

    Also, many times the symptoms of a disease are there but the patient is not aware of their significance.Or they are in denial or the symptoms are non specific and nobody wants to think of tb or cancer or heart trouble when they can tell themselves-its just a cough, or the chest pains are just heartburn.Better err on the side of caution.

  3. Yes, there can be benefits. But there are lots of downsides as well - not just the unnecessary expense of these expensive tests ! For example, these tests will pick up lots of insignificant findings which are of no clinical importance - and cause needless worry and anxiety. The purpose of tests is to reassure - not create a population of the "worried well".


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