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Sunday, April 16, 2006

Milking the "Worried Well"

There has been much publicity recently about the cozy relationship between medicine and the pharmaceutical industry. I have written several articles about this over recent years, expressing concern about how medical research is swayed towards this or that approach that relies on expensive interventions, encourages the consumption of over-priced commercial products, or downplays the adverse effects of a drug on one's health.

A strategy to increase the reliance of the population on pharmaceuticals is to turn healthy people into unhealthy ones. This is achieved by progressively lowering the threshholds for the prescription of powerful medicines. Blood pressure is a perfect example: Medication was once only considered a possibility if blood pressure exceeded 150/100. Not too many years ago, this threshold was lowered to 145/95 and then to 140/90. Now some bright spark has come up with the ailment called "prehypertension". If blood pressure exceeds a healthy 125/85, then blood pressure lowering medication is on the cards. That's just about every adult on the planet!

Question: Are the exploding rates of dementia in Westernised societies the consequence of excessive long term use of prescription medicines like anti-depressants, statins and beta blockers and not just lifestyle and diet?

We are seeing the same lowering of thresholds with blood cholesterol: Once levels exceeding 6.0 were the point where medication was considered; then it was lowered to 5.5 and more recently to 5.0. Today, even 4.8 may result in cholesterol lowering medication being prescribed.

This is creating a whole new goup of patients: the" Worried Well". Or should that be the "Worried Poor"?

Some experts want to go even further by proposing the development of the "Poly Pill". This will be a pill that contains several drugs to lower blood pressure and cholesterol that can be prophylactically prescribed to the entire adult population. The Poly Pill will supposedly preempt cardiovascular disease that afflicts over 50% of the older adult population. Where does this madness come from and where will it end?

Well, once a person heads down this sorry path, the only end is drugs-soaked misery - much to the delight of the drugs industry I'm sure. Why? Because one drug leads to another. For example; blood pressure medication is one of the leading causes of male impotence. So, shortly after the blood pressure prescription, the patient is placed on viagra in an attempt to resurrect his drooping sexuality. Within 15-20 years of the first prescription, the patient will be on at least 10 different prescription medicines. Quality of life declines with each prescription. Isn't medicine supposed to improve quality of life? Once on these pills, getting off them is not always as simple as just stopping. In some cases, it can be dangerous to stop suddenly once started.

Making perfectly healthy people dependent on drugs is abhorrent and something to be strongly resisted. Especially when healthy alternatives abound in most cases.

Sure, preventing the development of disease is important. This is best done by proper monitoring and using healthy lifestyle-based interventions to prevent progression into desease. This is a much more sensible and palatable approach. A good example of this can be found in my e-publication for monitoring blood pressure. Have a careful read and you will also learn the secret for living 100 quality years - without the aid of drugs.


Wayne said...

I"ve seen doctors play god with peoples lives making educated guesses as to what medication to put a person on. I"ve seen them do this to a person that went undiagnosed with low thyroid function for decades, in the meantime they became a addict to a variety of pharmaceuticals, one pill to stop them getting depressed, another to get them to sleep, another to stop them throwing up from the side effects of the other medications, then when the latest trendy drug came along the doctor decided it was time to change medications sometimes with disastrous consequences, their mental functioning has suffered over the years not improved after all the pharmaceuticals.
A fifteen minute walk is a more potent tranquiliser than taking a tranquiliser pill.
theres a 45% chance if you arent sleeping properly you arent getting enough exercise.
you are three times as likely to be depressed if you don't exercise, exercise is now seen to reduce alzheimers disease in the elderly..
Exercise has been proven in scientfic studies to improve mental concentration and creativity.
at 37 I"ve never needed to take an asprin since I was a child.
I exercise regularly and find I dont suffer from headaches like my work colleagues have who dont exercise regularly.
I"ll take a drink of water which often alleviates a headache but I see others going straight for the asprin. people are wedded to the concept of going to pills to solve their ills, short term it may do so but in the long term, it will degrade your health.
how long does a doctor have to diagnose a patient? ten or fifteen inutes? if you go to a natural therapist usually the initial consultation is an hour. and follow up consultations are half an hour. even if a naturopath hasnt spent the amount of time studying that a doctor has, who is going to be more informed about the patient and the possible causes of their illness? who is likely to make a more accurate diagnosis? its ironic that a doctor will spend so many years becoming qualified to be a doctor and spend so little time passing a diagnosis. When I had chronic fatigue a doctor told me I needed a psychiatrist who tried to convince me that past experiences were making me sick, none of the doctors I saw bothered looking at diet or allergies or current stresses in my life which in the end were all the real contributing reasons for my being ill, a naturopath did look at all these issues.
Heres a test, if you have an idea about what might be the problem and your doctor hasnt investigated that option voice your opinion to your doctor if they arent willing to listen to your opinion and value it then have a think about whether you should keep that doctor.

Wayne said...

the life expectancy of the average kenyan is 48, so I guess this must tell us something about the standard of health care in Kenya and the living standard of the country?
economically its a basket case.
now if you wanted to develop someones health to its full potential is this a place you would consider sending someone?
You may be surprised to know kenya also produces the finest athletes in the world? shall we ponder how these two facts sit together?
Is that Lydiard I can hear laughing up there?