By Ron Hunninghake, M.D.
We as an American society are at a critical tipping point. Do we ignore the potentially devastating status of most Americans’ health, or do we wake up and address the underlying causes of the greatest epidemic to face our way of life?
The reader may be asking: What epidemic? People are not dying in the streets, much as they did in the great 1918 influenza epidemic. After all, we seem to have survived the swine flu scare that didn’t happen. The specialists say that, thanks to the miracle statin drugs, fewer people are dying of heart disease these days. TV commercials suggest that cancer cures are “just around the corner.” So, what’s the big deal?
A recent article in the Los Angeles Times carried the following headline: “Half of Americans’ health is at risk.” Half of all adult Americans have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes. These three risk factors, plus the 68% of Americans whose BMI categorizes them as “overweight,” are much more than simple cardiovascular risk factors. These signs portend an ominous rise in ALL of the major chronic degenerative diseases…enough to swamp our already overwhelmed and over-priced sickness care system.
The risk factors mentioned above are the basic elements of the Metabolic Syndrome X, a known precursor to cardiovascular disease. Metabolic Syndrome X also ramps up chronic inflammation, weakens immunity, threatens autoimmunity, depletes adrenal reserves, disrupts neurotransmitter balance, and dooms its owner to a life of disability and pain…if allowed to go on unchecked.
Hopefully the reader understands the implication of “unchecked,” which implies no change in the victim’s lifestyle. The sum product of many years of poor lifestyle choices: We Americans are digging our own graves with our knives and forks!
There are many expensive pharmaceuticals that artificially rearrange high blood pressure numbers, kill cholesterol (and CoQ10) production by the liver, and drop blood sugar levels. Pharmaceutical solutions have not impacted future disease progression. The meteoric rise in obesity statistics continues upward at an undaunted pace. Poor lifestyle choices are being ignored as patients rush to their harried doctors for the latest blockbuster (and heavily advertised) drug.
Every mainstream medical organization (American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, etc.) purports that lifestyle change is the first line of therapy for these diseases. Doctors generally do not engage their patients in lifestyle care. Insurance companies generally do not cover lifestyle care. It is the individual’s personal sense of responsibility and willingness to implement true lifestyle modification that, at the end of the day, brings significant change.
Too many Americans are abdicating their responsibilities for their own health. This societal attitude sets the stage for the political impasse that has characterized so-called health care reform. The currently proposed health reform is really only insurance payment reform. It ignores the lifestyle issues at the core of this national dilemma.
It is to this arena that the Riordan Clinic has turned its attention. Our focus for the past 35 years has been on chronic care. We will continue to serve in that capacity to those chronically ill patients who look to us for help and hope. Our call to duty now includes lifestyle care. We cannot ignore the blatant fact that Americans everywhere are struggling to find their way to better health. They are looking for evidence-based lifestyle care programs that work.
The Riordan Clinic is introducing a Lifestyle Care program! Do you experience any of the following symptoms: low energy level, high-stress lifestyle, excess weight, trouble sleeping, junk food cravings, inflamed joints, or concern about family history? If so, a lifestyle care program will make dramatic improvements in your health status. The Lifestyle Care program focuses all the knowledge and therapies available at the Riordan Clinic to assist people who recognize they need to make lifestyle changes to optimize their health. Visit our new Riordan Clinic website at www.riordanclinic. org to review a complete list of available therapies, including:
• creative visualization and relaxation program targeted to: smoking cessation, weight-loss, stress management, and pain management
• intravenous nutrition program customized with nutrients to address specific lifestyle needs
• nutrient focused blood analysis to help identify underlying nutritional, toxic, infectious, hormonal, or allergic sources for symptoms
Research has shown that lifestyle change is more effective in modifying the major cardiovascular risk factors than even medications. The patient, rather than becoming helplessly entwined in a web of passive services, becomes the captain of their own ship. Patients are empowered to take better care of themselves. They grow in confidence, expand their scope of knowledge, and develop lifelong habits of health. They become part of the solution, rather than part of the problem. Lifestyle Care is the medicine of the future. Illness can be prevented before it emerges. The antecedents of sickness are well known; but how does one initiate change before the foreseen consequences come to roost? The real trick here is motivation. What triggers the urge to be well? The first and foremost ingredient is a trusted doctor who values wellness. The patient who is told with care and compassion by their doctor that he or she needs to change their lifestyle…well, the choice is still theirs, but the likelihood of change will have increased dramatically.
Doctors, ironically, must be the first to embrace lifestyle care, if this mode of recovery is to truly catch on in our country. The Riordan Clinic mission is to create an epidemic of health. We serve as a training ground for doctors who are truly interested in learning how to motivate patients in the direction of better lifestyle.
Lifestyle care begins with a simple understanding: better habits of health are the basis of better health. Habits take time to cultivate. Education, lifetime learning, and coaching are the fundamentals of gaining and sustaining new habits. A personal commitment to better health is only a short but sincere statement away: I CHOOSE TO LIVE A HEALTHY LIFE! Lifestyle Care begins with YOU! (We can help.)