Today’s news will be music to Big Pharma’s ears…
A recent, large Finnish study showed that lifestyle changes are powerful medicine in the fight against heart disease. But it also showed that many patients would rather just take a statin or blood pressure drug instead.
In other words, why do the work when you can just take a pill? It’s the typical American way—but I’m surprised to hear that’s the Finnish way, too.
Drugs before diet and exercise
These researchers studied more than 41,000 public servants, all of whom were heart-disease-free at the start of the study, from 2000 to 2013.
Body mass index (BMI) crept up across the board throughout the study period, which isn’t exactly surprising. But on average, the increase was higher in patients who started a blood pressure or statin medication.
How much higher? A good 20 percent.
These patients were also 82 percent more likely to become obese. And eight percent more likely to become sedentary, regardless of how much exercise they were getting when the study started.
It never ceases to amaze me that most people would rather take a drug—one that’s likely to come with a whole slew of side effects—than adopt a healthy lifestyle.
But I’m pleased to report that this study delivered at least some good news.
In fact, the participants who were smokers when the study started were 26 percent more likely to quit smoking if they received treatment for their high cholesterol or hypertension. In addition, overall weekly alcohol consumption also dropped. Both of which, in my view, are a step in the right direction where overall health and well-being is concerned.
Lifestyle medicine works
The takeaway here is pretty clear. Doctors are great at writing prescriptions. And patients are great at taking those meds. But when it comes to helping those patients successfully change their lifestyles? Well, most are downright awful in providing such guidance.
And it’s really no wonder why.
Tell me, how well can you really coach a patient in five to 15 minutes? Because that’s about how long the typical primary care visit is.
Which is exactly why I spend up to an hour with most of my patients. It takes time and attention to review and reinforce healthy diet, exercise, and sleep habits.
I also make a point of personally getting to know my patients and figuring out their individual needs. (For example, I ask every patient what they have eaten in the past 24 hours. Then, I make adjustments and recommendations accordingly.)
I also do this with exercise habits. And I really try to understand what that person may like and make suggestions accordingly, based on whether it fits their budget and schedule. (And most importantly, whether they’ll have fun doing it.)
It’s not as if I don’t have patients who take medications—I do. But my game plan always focuses on lifestyle medicine first.
So the next time you’re faced with a decision about whether to take a prescription drug, start a conversation about lifestyle habits first. This includes your diet (stick to a Mediterranean-style diet that focuses on fresh, whole foods—like my A-List Diet), exercise (I recommend 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week), and your sleeping habits (aim for seven to nine hours of sleep each night).
Because lifestyle medicine is cheap, risk-free, and guess what? It works. Treatment plans just don’t get simpler than that.
P.S. I also outline a comprehensive, all-natural plan to prevent and reverse America’s biggest killers—like high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke—in my Ultimate Heart Protection Protocol. To learn more about this innovative online learning tool, or to enroll today, click here now!
“Healthy Habits Backslide After Starting Statins, Antihypertensives.” Medscape Medical News, 02/05/2020. (medscape.com/viewarticle/924842)