October 11, 2010

Your health: Predictive health study reports success

Results of an Emory study, reported in the October issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, show promise for predicting and enhancing health as opposed to waiting for disease to begin.

By assessing fundamental physiological and psychological processes to predict potential health risks -- and by providing a health partner to help people develop and implement their own health goals -- there is a greater chance of staying healthy throughout life, says study author Kenneth Brigham, associate vice president and director of Emory’s Predictive Health Initiative. 

The term “predictive health,” has been chosen to emphasize prediction instead of diagnosis, and health instead of disease, says Brigham, author of the paper. Thus, the aim of predictive health is to define, predict and maintain health throughout the entire lifespan. 

“One premise of predictive health is that it should be less expensive, more efficient and thus yield a greater return on the investment of keeping people healthy as opposed to waiting for illness and disease,” says Brigham.

One way to help Emory employees stay healthy is the predictive health program at Emory’s Center for Health Discovery and Well Being.

The current study followed participants at the Center and collected detailed data on family situation, anxiety level, depression, diet and exercise habits as well as physical measurements such as blood pressure, heart rate, body fat, bone density and various biomarkers. This information was then assembled into a health assessment report, a summary and interpretation of the information. 

Next, health partners provided more information and support for each participant to develop a health action plan aimed at meeting specific goals to help participants develop and maintain their optimum health. Study results show statistically significant reductions in cholesterol levels, blood pressure, blood glucose, body fat, depression, anxiety and stress.

“We have found that in just six months time, many of our participants have experienced significant improvements in metabolic, cardiovascular, immune and emotional health,” says Brigham. Longer-term follow-up studies are planned.

Discover health … chart your course  

To learn how to become a member of Emory’s Center for Health Discovery and Well Being, visit the center’s website  or Discovering Your Health blog

Benefits of the program include:

• A “picture” of your health through advanced tests

• A personalized health assessment

• A biomarkers health profile

• A personalized health plan

• Collaboration with a health partner to meet your goals

• A plan to restore, optimize and maintain good health

• Help to make advances in health knowledge

Emory employees may enter the program at a reduced cost, and use their Flexible Spending Account and payroll deduction.

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