I have definitely heard people question the importance of lifestyle before. Exercise up until recently was considered “alternative” medicine, and diet was considered an adjunct to pills. However, very good data and research are now showing that once seemingly innocent things – diet, exercise, smoking cessation and now even mindfulness – are proving to be as potent or more potent for the vast majority of diseases that we treat.
The clincher here is this: How many of us actually “cure” disease? The answer: Mostly none of us. The pills and procedures we do usually palliate, remediate, or slow progression of disease, but almost none of what we do cures the underlying problem.
This is where the benefit of lifestyle and behavioral modification really shines. There is excellent data that lifestyle changes improve overall health outcomes, and with excellent nutrition, there is even a chance for disease regression. New research is even showing clear benefits associated with mindfulness.
ACC President Kim Allan Williams Sr., MD, FACC, and Simon Dack Lecturer David B. Nash, MD, MBA, both spoke to these benefits as part of Saturday’s Opening Showcase Session that focused heavily on the benefits of lifestyle changes in efforts to improve the health of populations. ACC’s first-ever Lifestyle Intensive, also on Saturday, allowed for thoughtful discussion and debate around lifestyle changes that can improve outcomes for patients living with or at risk of heart disease. Even one of the first Late Breaking Clinical Trials of the meeting looked at the question of whether a mobile-health (mHealth) program to reduce physical inactivity can be implemented on a large scale. The answer: Yes!
Believe it or not, lifestyle medicine is a very powerful tool … and it is backed by hard science. We can’t truly say we practice state of the art medicine without this knowledge. Let’s improve outcomes with more living, and less doctoring.