Respect. Without this one factor, the advice your doctor gives you will go in one ear and out the other. There are a variety of factors that contribute to the level of respect you have for your physician.
High on the list is whether or not your physician practices what he or she preaches. Does he or she reek of cigarette smoke, and yet expects you to quit? Does he or she have a belly that stick way too far past the waistline and yet expects you to lose weight to manage your diabetes? Does your doctor tell you that you need to ramp up the exercise, but wouldn’t know what to do with a jump rope if he or she tripped over it?
These situations make it hard to follow your doctor’s advice. Unfortunately, it does not seem to be an isolated experience.
This particular study looked at a large population of 1770 cardiologists in Italy and questioned them on their heart-healthy behaviors. (Keep in mind that Europeans, in general, are healthier than us Americans) One group of questions asked about 5 classic heart disease risk factors. This simple list included:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Previous vascular events
Pretty simple list of things to avoid that are almost entirely lifestyle dependent. So what did the researchers find?
- More than 49% of the participants had at least 1 risk factor.
- More than 28% had 2 to 5 risk factors.
- A mere 22.1% had none of these factors.
- Despite the reported risk factors, >90% of cardiologists considered themselves at mild risk of a cardiac event.
- Furthermore, overweight and obesity, physical inactivity, and stress at work or at home were commonly reported.
- Very interestingly, cardiologists self reported only a limited use of cardiovascular drugs, such as statins or aspirin.
How can society expect to stem the tsunami of chronic disease if the stewards of health are themselves, not healthy? “Do as I say, not as I do.” It won’t work.
The bottom line is that your health and the responsibility for your health lies with you. NEVER rely on any physician to teach you more about staying healthy then you can learn yourself (except maybe me, of course….). According the this study, the odds are that even your cardiologist doesn’t know what’s good for his or her heart.