Despite increased awareness in the importance of personalizing and individualizing medical care, the U.S. medical industrial complex continues to preach the same type of one-size-fits-all, guideline-based medical care in the treatment of chronic medical conditions. Chronic diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stomach ailments, auto-immune diseases, cholesterol and cancer to name a few. We treat a 90lb frail Hispanic woman, with the same drugs, doses and procedures as we would a 400lb truck driver. Makes no sense.
This is in part why the U.S. lags behind developed and developing nations when it comes to healthcare outcomes. The U.S. is in 11th position (last) among the top 11 industrialized nations in terms of healthcare quality, while being the most expensive at $9000 per person.
21st Century Cardiology (and healthcare)
When treating patients, physicians ask WHAT, as in what tests can I order and what drugs can I prescribe to the patient. Integrative and Functional medicine physicians ask a different set of questions. Instead of WHAT?, we go back in the patients timeline or history, to try to identify the origins of the patients’ current medical condition and ask WHY? WHY does this patient present with their symptom or illness, how long has it been going on, and how can it be reversed? We address the individual root cause as opposed to generically medicate the problem.
Makes sense right? Makes you wonder why the medical industrial establishment hasn’t changed direction seeing that our system of chronic disease management is a resounding failure.
As a Cardiologist who completed a 2-year Fellowship in Integrative and another year in Functional Medicine, instead of relying on drugs and testing as the mainstay of treatment, I recognize the importance that food, nutrition lifestyle and genetics has on producing ailments. We know that the quality of sleep, stressors, feelings of isolation or loneliness, activity, movement and one’s mindset and beliefs also play a significant role in health.
We recognize the role that the microbiome, (the colonies of bacteria in our intestinal tract that are unique to each individual), have in processing nutrients correctly, metabolizing medications, impacting our emotions, as well as in making us sick or keeping us healthy.
21st Century Cardiology is not about the routine ordering of stress tests and other cardiac tests that tend to be frequently ordered not because it will help with the patients care, but rather as a source of additional income for the cardiologist.
- It’s about listening to the patient’s story (and every story is unique to the individual) and identifying the cause of illness.
- It’s about working together in partnership.
- It’s about advanced lipid testing, calcium scores and dampening inflammation.
- It’s about genomic testing when appropriate.
- It’s about modifying gene expression through epigenetics.
- It’s about personalizing treatment.
- And it’s about treating the person, mind, body and soul, as opposed to treating a disease.
If you are tired of the industrialized, production line type of cardiology typical of U.S. chronic disease management and think there has to be a better way to treat chronic heart conditions, I may be able to offer a more WHOLE-istic way.