What follows is an introduction to my most recent post on theHeart.org | Medscape Cardiology. It was published yesterday. Many of the comments are excellent. The link is at the end of this post.
You might wonder what pool-safety has to do with lifestyle disease. Here is how they relate:
I am currently reading an excellent book by social media guru Dr. Bryan Vartabedian. In The Public Physician, Dr. V helps physicians understand the intersection of social media and medicine. One of the chapters is titled: We don’t need another pool-safety post. “Every summer,” Dr V writes, “pediatricians and children’s hospitals write posts about keeping kids safe around pools.” His point was that if you choose to write sterile posts about well-worn topics it will be tough getting heard over the noise.
That passage got me thinking about medicine’s problem with lifestyle disease. Here I am in clinic, day in and day out, trying to help people with their unnecessary disease. I leave the office knowing that a good life coach could offer my patients more effective and safer therapy. But all the parties involved–patients, colleagues, administrators–are most interested in my tricks–pills and procedures and surgery. Lifestyle interventions are denied or forgotten.
It is the same story in health writing. Posts on new anticoagulant drugs, AF ablation technology and mobile ECGs bring the traffic. Writing about lifestyle choices–exercise, nutrition, sleep and balance–is the euphemistic pool-safety post.
And that, my friends, is the core problem. Per AF ablation, I make hundreds of dollars making hundreds of burns in the left atrium when a poorly paid life coach could have prevented or treated the disease. This is cardiology writ large.
See this Tweet and response:
— John Mandrola, MD (@drjohnm) January 13, 2015
In doctoring, the prescription pad is easy. The EP lab is even easier–and more lucrative. The truth is hard.
In writing, new drugs are easy. AF ablation is easy. Statins are even easier. The truth–lifestyle choices–is hard.
The apathy has to stop somewhere. I see doctors as leaders and professionals in health. Although we cannot alone cure the ailing public health, we make it worse when we treat lifestyle disease as if it were another pool-safety post.
The title of the my piece and link is here: Heart Disease and Lifestyle: Why Are Doctors in Denial?