Monthly Letters to Pulmonary Patients by Thomas L. Petty

Thomas L. Petty, M.D.

Professor of Medicine, 
University of Colorado

Chairman, National Lung Health Education Program (NLHEP)


National Lung Health Education Program
A collaborative project with



HealthOne Center
1850 High Street
Denver, CO 80218
Phone: 303 839 6755
Fax: 303 832 8137

Preventive Maintenance

June  2002
Second Wind
Lomita, California

Dear Friends:

Tomorrow I need to take my car for regularly scheduled service. It needs an oil change, lubrication, tires rotated, and a check to see if all hoses and fan belts are in good running condition. I keep a regular diary of these "check-ups" very carefully. I am a "compliant car carer". Since I am so good at this, why do I sometimes delay in going to the dentist for a cleaning or even the necessary blood test I need to monitor medications that I take? I guess it is just human nature.

There is no way to tell what a person's blood pressure is without measuring it. Is the airflow responding to bronchodilators and corticosteroids? Is cholesterol under control? Is the blood sugar in the proper range? Are anticoagulants achieving the desired therapeutic target? All these tests require scheduled monitoring.

This is very similar to the preventive maintenance we do on our cars. We want our cars to last as long as possible and avoid breakdowns. Should not this be the goal for ourselves? It needs to become a way of life and integrated into our regular daily activities. If we are going to give good preventive maintenance to our cars, why don't we do it for ourselves?

I'll be in touch next month.

Your friend,

       Thomas L. Petty, MD

Last update:
04 July 2002