Is Your Physician Really Practicing Preventive Cardiac Care?

I wrote Don’t Die Early as a guide that anyone, of any age or gender, can use to better sort through the maze of soundbites and misinformation that permeate the airwaves today. By understanding the critical health issues that plague us, we can better chart a course towards optimum health, focusing on what’s timeless and important, not on what happens to be on the news today.

That said, this blog post is geared towards those you who are specifically concerned about preventing, or addressing heart disease. Perhaps you have a strong family history of heart disease and have vowed not to suffer the fate that took Granddad or Uncle Fred. Perhaps a close friend has suffered a heart attack at the gym, mere weeks after passing a stress test with flying colors. Maybe, like so many of us, you’ve simply turned the corner into the second half of your life and want to pay more attention to preventing heart disease. And don’t think that because you’re female that you can tune out the discussion at this point: heart disease kills more women than men in this country. [1]

Now that you’ve decided to pay more attention to heart disease, what do you do? You probably enlist your doctor’s help to have regular checkups, assess your risk, and take steps to reduce your risk, like starting on a statin to lower your cholesterol.

How will you fare? That, I’m afraid, depends on which side of the fence you land when you choose your physician. You see, based upon the past few years researching the subject, I’ve decided that about 20% of the doctors our there have their heads on straight when it comes to preventive cardiac health. The other 80% are basing their patient care upon outdated, or simplistic, protocols that are no longer effectively serving their patients. And, sadly, no matter how loudly the well-informed 20% of the physicians argue the benefits of these new and improved ways of viewing heart disease, the other 80% of their peers are too stuck in their old ways of thinking to change. (In all honesty, the 80/20 estimate is a bit of a guess. In my more cynical moments, I’m more inclined to argue that it’s 95/5, with only 5% of the physicians out there employing truly effective methods at preventing coronary artery disease.)

To help you figure out if you’re in the 80% group or the 20% group, I’ve created this flow chart. Which side more closely defines the history and relationship you have with the physician overseeing your cardiac preventive health? (For now, the diagram is a graphic instead of html. You may need to click to load it manually.)


[1] Thom, et al. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics–2006 Update : A Report From the American Heart Association Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee. Circulation. 2006;113


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