Cardiovascular disease is a lifestyle disease. Genetics are a minor player. The day in, day out decisions you make guide your health outcomes.
In today’s society, all of the known risk factors for heart disease can (and should) be modified by lifestyle. However, if you’re not willing to make the necessary changes, it is highly likely that your doctor will recommend medications to manage the individual risk factors that, collectively, contribute to heart disease.
The shoddy effectiveness of this approach is beyond the scope of this article, but you can read prior blog articles on the topic of cholesterol by clicking here.
This particular article looked at a little over 2,000 patient with chronic chest pain. They then looked at nationally accepted markers for weight / BMI, blood pressure, lipids (HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, trigylcerides) and HbA1c levels if the patient was diabetic.
The general practitioners of these patients were then asked how well they thought his or her patients were controlled. This number was compared to the reality of how well the patients actually met the guidelines. Here’s what they found:
- Blood pressure: 60% actually met guidelines while the GPs thought that 86% were meeting guidelines.
- Weight: 24% met BMI guidelines and 23% waist circumference guidelines, but GPs felt that 44% of the patients met standards.
- Lipids: 17% actually met guidelines, but GPs felt 70% were doing so.
- HbA1c: 54% met standards, while GPs felt it was closer to 60%.
Clearly there is some strong discrepancy between how well the GPs felt their patients were being controlled and how well they actually were meeting the guidelines.
So what is the take home message?
First, we flat out suck at meeting the recommended guidelines. As a society, we have to wake up and begin to make the right choices when it comes to heart disease and diabetes. Medications are not the answer and never will be.
Second, YOU are your best advocate. As doctors fall more and more out of touch with how to manage chronic diseases in their patients, the onus falls back where it belongs – with YOU. You need to take charge of your health and not rely on anyone else to help you get healthy. No one has at much at stake in your health as you do.