Preventive Medicine is a Priority!

Afable Medical Center, Olongapo – 55 year old patient presented in the outpatient department at 1 in the morning with a chief complaint of chest pain. He’s an insulin-dependent diabetic with Coronary Artery Disease, Hypertension Stage 2, Dyslipidemia, and Obesity. He refused all the necessary interventions except for an ECG. He refused oxygen and pain relievers but took Isordil. The ECG revealed an incomplete RBBB, an AV Block type 1, and sinus bradycardia.

To the medically uninitiated, these all translates to a walking time bomb. He has SYNDROME X written all over his chart. He was a PhilAm US Navy retiree with Type A personality. During my conversation with him, he keeps muscling me out citing that a VA primary care physician has already prescribed him too many medications. I know better not to argue but referred him back to his physician after negotiating initial management. With his type of morbidity, he doesn’t have long to live.

Related Story: Why Would My Doctor Prescribe My Child Probiotics?

The sad thing about this is that many people all over the world are suffering just like he is. He is a product of an unhealthy lifestyle that resulted to irreversible deteriorating state. He is now compelled to take in multi-pharmacy. That is he can’t live without their meds. He can’t eat what he wants to eat and he is very limited in their daily activities. The worst part is he was combative and lacked insight as to the root cause of his problem: himself. He ignored all the road signs and now he is headed for the last pitfall.

These diagnoses didn’t come overnight. And we doctors can’t be expected to become miracle workers all the time. Here in the Philippines, where we are limited to both access to diagnostic modalities, new medicines and other therapeutic measures, doctors can only follow best practices that are available and expect modest results.

I keep remembering Joe Cross and his juice diet miracles. My wife and I tried it but it was very hard to follow. Our taste buds are just not up to the challenge. Then I tried a 4hourbody intervention: the slow carb diet with up to 1 week of weakness before I quit. I had an almost 50% reduction in strength training due to the low carbs but I experienced a 10 lb weight loss in that week! Tim Ferris’ and Joe Cross’ interventions were very good when it comes to results but it comes with a price.

There is another intervention that is worth more than all of them. It’s preventive medicine! Why wait for the disease to happen before you do something about it. You can prevent it! Preventive Medicine shouldn’t be all about vaccines and infectious diseases. It can be about proper nutritional advice, great exercise tips, and health maintenance. It’s like doctors functioning like stock brokers or financial managers but instead of investing money, you invest on life years or disease-free retirements!

Stop smoking, stop cancer and COPD. Each cigarette you puff will trap tar and carcinogens in your lung forever. COPD is insidious and patients are usually debilitated for life once diagnosed. Most smokers are not forward thinkers and tend to live life at the moment. When time comes and they get the big C, every smoker regrets the very first day they bought their first. Nobody wants to die early and nobody wants to live breathing through an oxygen mask. Be a forward thinker and drive tobacco companies out of business! Stop the habit and encourage others too.

Exercise, damn it! The human body is a product of a thousand years of evolution! It has adapted through the many stresses of mother nature by passing down the best genes from offspring to offspring. You were born to roam the world and fight to survive. Unfortunately, we are now stuck in the virtual or social world created by the present Internet Age that we forget to USE the body we were born with. We take it for granted and think that it only needs to be fueled so we can go on our daily lives. Like a car, we will break down if we don’t get maintenance. Cars however don’t get fat and hypercholesterolemia but they do rust if not used properly. Get up and disconnect yourself from inactivity and just give your body the proper beating it deserves.
Exercise just 20 minutes a day and you’ll be feeling youthful again.
Minimum definition of exercise by cardiologists is an activity that can be done to increase the heart rate to more than a hundred and maintained for 20 minutes. Yup I said “minimum” definition. This is the minimum for an individual to rake in the benefits of exercise. For many this is already a hard goal to start with but its a goal nonetheless. It’s ok if you don’t get it the first time you try to exercise. Your body adapts, trust me. Each time you try to exercise, the body takes it as a stressor and adjusts itself to cope with the same stress in the future.
The maximum definition of an exercise is made by physiatrists, which is at least 80% maximum heart rate per age maintained for at least 30 minutes. It’s hard to compute and keep up with all the science of exercise but in practice, all you need to do is listen to your body. Your body signals you to stop at a certain point while it adapts. The numbers and the computations are made just so you can be objective and set goals.

Eat a balanced diet Like me, you probably hate all the calculations and cant keep up with all the calorie counting. You only need 3 main meals. You don’t need more than what your body is telling you to eat. But as many authors in diet have already explained, many processed foods and delicious fast foods can send the eating signals out of whack. Authors and doctors have blamed gluten and other compounds to have an addictive effect. Just look at the way you are eating right now. If you eat more of one food group like more carbo, or more protein, or more fat than the other food group then the chances that your brain was rewired is likely.
If you are not yet sick, then there is no need to go into a prescribed diet. But then again you need to have a medical to find out if you’re not yet sick. All you need is to check if you have all 3 food groups in your diet.
If you are not an athlete or are not planning to be, you just need to limit the amount to one small plate. In Tim Ferriss’s book, he told us to use the hand as a simple measure for food. In the Shorcut to Six Pack Abs, Mike Chang told us to use a fistsize proportion. The secret really is to just limit the intake per meal. Athletes need more meals than most of us do. If you’re not, use whatever convention is comfortable for you and use it. Don’t cheat. Fight the addiction to eat more than what you have to unless you have to (like if you are about to engage in a high intensity exercise).

Nutrition is key to a healthy body. It’s not just a pearl, it should be engraved in stone.

Get vaccinated. There are a lot of comments about this in youtube and other people are spreading some vaccine scare. I’m also not promoting any brand whatsoever. The theory is simple. Get vaccinated to prevent the diseases that we doctors do not want to encounter! SARS, avian flu and cervical cancer all come to mind whenever we mention vaccine. But in reality, the human race has had it’s share of more ghastly pandemics in the past that we do not want them repeated. Before that vaccine was made, millions have died from that one disease. So a good thing you should remember why we intend to give you a shot is that we intend to stop millions more from dying.

Take vitamins in RDA doses. There are vitamins and there are supplements. Taking one in the prescribed daily allowance is enough to prevent a disease associated with a vitamin. Taking none doesn’t mean you’ll get the disease either. But it is a good measure nonetheless. Taking more is not recommended and can actually make you sick. Before taking in supplements and vitamins, get a consult. Some people require more, some require less.

Not all fat is bad. Your body needs fat. The best sources are fish and eggs. The worst and not entirely avoidable are animal fat. If your doctor said low fat diet, concentrate more on fish and eggs. No doctor would recommend a NO FAT diet but a lot of patients misinterprets this and goes on an unhealthy fast on fat. As your body replaces itself with new cells it needs fat to do so. Restrict it and your whole body suffers breakdown.

The ideas presented here are not new and have been said by most doctors time and again. The only problem is insight. Like I said, my patient’s problem is really himself. Because of his unwillingness to act, he is now in a dangerous state of health. If you read this, I suggest you to invest in health and prevent this from happening to you.

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