When it comes to choosing private medical insurance, there are a huge number of factors to consider. Usually people’s choices are based on the level of cover they think they will need to receive in a worse case scenario, whether it’s as a result of an accident or to cover hospital and drug costs resulting from conditions such as cancer. It is rare that preventative care is at the top of or even on people’s agendas, but prevention is often the best cure.
With modern medicine, certain conditions can be predicted way before they impact on a person’s health, and so individuals can avoid the harsh choices which may need to be made later in life when battling with chronic conditions or illnesses.
One such medical problem is osteoarthritis, which is on the increase due to an ageing population and, some believe, due to Western lifestyles taking their toll on the body. Most health problems can be effectively treated and managed if they are caught early enough. But until now, diagnosing the early stage of osteoarthritis – the often cripplingly painful disease that causes damage to the joints and is thought to affect around 8.5m Brits – has been tricky. That's because diagnosis currently relies on X-ray evidence and physical examination, both of which may not spot signs of the disease until it's in its later stages.
However, scientists have just announced the development of new medical imaging technology that can spot signs of osteoarthritis even before it starts causing joint damage. The technique uses an MRI scanner – already commonly used in hospitals – to measure levels of a substance called glycosaminoglycan (GAG). GAG is a polymer that holds a large amount of water and helps make cartilage tough and elastic. Indeed, a low concentration of GAG is linked to the onset of osteoarthritis and other cartilage disorders. Another benefit of the new technology is that it could help detect how effective new and existing osteoarthritis drugs are at combating the disease.
It is anticipated that this form of detection will soon be commonly available throughout hospitals in the UK and abroad and so could transform the lives of suffers through early diagnosis and treatment.
With the right international private healthcare plan, such as Medicare International’s Executive International policy, policyholders can now start to take tangible steps to look after themselves and have free check ups to help spot the onset of such diseases. By checking the body’s likelihood to develop such conditions such as osteoarthritis, or by alerting the patient to the first signs of such ailments, the policyholder is given the opportunity to perhaps prevent a painful disease through the right changes in diet, supplements, or with the correct drugs available.
A growing number of studies suggest that diet can play a vital role in treatment. A nutritional substance called glucosamine – which is commonly used by osteoarthritis sufferers – is effective at both building new cartilage and helping to relieve joint pain.
Glucosamine makes up 50 percent of the lubricant found within the synovial fluid – the fluid that surrounds your joints – so it’s involved in protecting against joint wear and tear. It helps your body make collagen and maintain healthy connective tissues, all of which is needed for rebuilding and repairing cartilage.
Commenting on this new preventative healthcare advance, David Pryor, Senior Executive Director, MediCare International says, “Medicare International believes in taking a more holistic approach to our customers’ healthcare and we certainly believe that prevention or early detection can be hugely helpful. Early diagnosis can lead to better treatment and a better chance of a full recovery for many diseases. With the use of modern technology, enormous progress has been made in modern medicine to detect the very early signs of diseases such as osteoarthritis. It is in our interests and the patients’ interests to ensure they receive the best in preventative healthcare and we believe this is yet another useful way in which our free Wellness healthcare check can be used to avoid the pain of an advanced medical condition.”
International health insurance: News update: September 2008