In decades past, we physicians were trained on the diagnosis and treatment of atherosclerosis, more commonly known as heart disease or coronary artery disease, once it had occurred.
However, the present epidemic of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and their complications of heart attacks, strokes, heart failure, and sudden death, have necessitated a change in focus to one of prevention.
It is clear that lifestyle plays a large part in the causation of these diseases. As health professionals, we must accept the moral and ethical mandate to focus on prevention rather than simply identification and treatment after development of disease.
In November 2013, the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology released a paper addressing the risk factors for coronary artery disease, the leading cause of death in our population. It identified, as previous papers had, several risk factors for this condition, many of which can be modified by lifestyle, and, when appropriate, medication.
The major risk factors include:
- Genetic history
- Cigarette smoking
- Cholesterol levels and types in the blood
The American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology also clearly indicated the need for lifestyle modification in individuals either with previously identified atherosclerosis or at high risk of the development of this condition.
Simply put, smoking cessation, weight reduction, dietary modification, and regular exercise will alter dramatically the risk of developing heart disease or of its progression over time. The use of medication, when appropriate, is also a focus of the presentations, but should be an adjunct to lifestyle rather than replace our personal responsibility for our own health.
The Pritikin Longevity Center is dedicated to the education of our guests and patients in a healthy lifestyle that both individualizes and personalizes our teachings to your needs.
On behalf of all the physicians at Pritikin, I wish to say that it is our pleasure to work with you in evaluation of your present condition and future risk. With our support staff of dietitians, exercise experts, and other health professionals, we will give you the tools necessary to maintain your health.
I look forward to meeting you upon your arrival at Pritikin.
Ronald J. Scheib, MD, FACC
Medical Director, Pritikin Longevity Center