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Preventive Medicine is Dead

Preventive medicine used to refer to measures taken to prevent illness, rather than curing them. It was a noble concept that made sense…it’s easier and cheaper to prevent, than to treat an illness. US Navy divers have a similar saying “It’s easier to keep up, than to catch up.”
But as a nation, we no longer practice preventive medicine, instead we now practice secondary prevention. “I had a heart attack, give me some medication to prevent another one.” “I have diabetes, keep it from getting worse.”
What caused the shift in attitude? Modern medicine. A ten year study of heart disease mortality published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1998, suggests that the primary cause of the reduced number of deaths from heart disease was not due to prevention (life style changes, such as diet), but from improved medical care. During this period, heart attack deaths declined considerably, while hospital admissions for heart attacks remained the same.
From the data, it appears we haven’t had much success in preventing heart attacks, modern medicine is just getting better at saving more lives.
However, this brings up the issue of quality of life. Do you believe that someone who survives their first heart attack, is going to be able to make the radical changes needed to prevent a second heart attack? Before you answer, consider this: A 2007 study by the American Heart Association, Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics, found that a significant number of people will have their second heart attack within five years.
It’s easier to start lifestyle modifications BEFORE your first heart attack. It’s easier to make small, continuous lifestyle improvements over longer periods of time…it’s easier to keep up, than to catch up.

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  1. Jim Purdy
    July 20, 2009 at 18:10

    I think the problem is that our whole approach to health care shifted in the early 20th Century, from lifestyle to drugs and surgery. In fact, I would trace the shift to 1921 and the development of insulin to treat diabetes.Yes, insulin is a life-saver for the small minority of Type 1 diabetics, but Type 2 diabetics were just starting to be treated successfully with diet by 1921, when insulin changed the focus.Now we have a whole system of doctors who push drugs and even bizarre bariatric surgery, with seldom a word of advice about proper diet.BigPharma has been a disaster for Americans' health.

  2. Jess Banda
    July 21, 2009 at 13:02

    Thanks for commenting Jim. I'm currently working with 3 clients who've had bariatric surgery. Their chief complaint is since their stomach is "smaller" they absorb less nutrients. It's a nightmare issue that requires a smart supplement program.

  3. Jess Banda
    July 21, 2009 at 13:04

    BTW Jim, how did you come across my Blog?

  4. Jim Purdy
    July 21, 2009 at 14:37

    As a Type 2 diabetic, I routinely do Google Blogsearches for keywords and phrases that interest me.Your blog must have showed in one of the results for blood sugar, or diabetes, or A1c, or blood glucose, or pancreas, or something similar.

  5. johannal
    July 29, 2009 at 22:37

    We have a saying- next time your doctor tells you to get more whole grains in your diet (to prevent heart disease etc.) ask him to take off his shirt. If he looks better than your trainer than you can take his advice. If not then I will stick to my way of eating because this plan is the true preventative medicine.Eat meats and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, NO SUGAR.When people say, Oh but it's so expensive to eat that way, i say yeah well cancer is expensive too.

  6. Jess Banda
    July 30, 2009 at 05:59

    You're absolutely correct…approx 6 months ago, a client wanted me to discuss her training regime with her nutritionist. The nutritionist/dietician is supposed to have knowledge above and beyond the general public, but this person appeared to be @ 30-35% bodyfat. What kind of message does thst send? If a "expert" on food cannot maintain a reasonably lean physique, then how can they help anyone else? I understand that not everyone wants to be in single digit body fat, but generally speaking, a lean body is a healthier body. That's why I only trust MDs who resistance train…they understand my aches and pains.

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