An Ounce of Prevention Can Save Your Life and Rescue Our Failing Healthcare System

We are as much to blame about the poor state of our healthcare system as any health provider, pharmaceutical or device manufacturer. We want an instant cure to whatever ails us without putting much effort into staying healthy and making sure we get the right care. Do you realize that about one-third of all deaths are premature and preventable? We’re talking about almost a million deaths a year! If we stop smoking, exercise a little and watched our diet we would live longer and prevent chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Rather than being bothered, we wait until something catastrophic like a heart attack or cancer and then demand a cure. The problem is there is no cure-we pay for our undisciplined lives with our life.

I remember a phone call I received a few years ago from a gentleman who was tired of taking 9 pills everyday; he was asking for advice on which ones he could cut out. Four of these were prescription medications; they were pills for his high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood glucose and failing kidneys. In other words, they kept him alive. The other five pills were vitamin supplements. I told him he could cut out the five supplements because they hadn’t been shown to do much good and they were not tested for purity. He wanted to continue with the supplements and drop the prescriptions. Go figure? He was feeling ok so so he reasoned why should he continue with the expensive medications?

This attitude is not the exception. About 50% of patients with chronic disease (like high cholesterol, hypertension, and diabetes) stop taking their medications because they’re feeling better and they want to save the $80 co-pay. These medications must be taken for the rest of their lives otherwise they risk premature death. Additionally, it has been shown that stopping medications costs $290 billion a year. That’s because you wind up in the hospital needing a stent or bypass or you have a stroke, or your kidneys fail.

The healthcare system can no longer support these attitudes that we can do or eat whatever we want because there’s a no-cost cure out there that will save our ass. Never mind what you see on television, that pill won’t save your life or make you happy nor will that cancer center cure you. Do a little now to prevent disease, it will save your life and save you money.

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