Look Beyond The Affordable Care Act… It’s Time to Become Proactive About Your Personal Health!

woman runner stretching

Many of us have misgivings about the Affordable Care Act. Although voicing one’s opinion is always a good thing, in this case it should not be a distraction from that which is most important, your own personal health. So, while the politicians continue to battle this out, be sure not to neglect yourself. Instead of ruminating over who’s paying for what, be proactive and do what you can to maximize your health. Here are a few strategies to employ.

First, as hackneyed as this may sound, it is essential to eat a healthful diet and maintain (or achieve and then maintain) an optimal weight. You may believe this to be inconsequential, but having looked at patients’ blood biomarkers for many years I can unequivocally state that losing weight when necessary dramatically improves one’s signs of metabolic disease. In fact, the changes I have seen are nothing short of remarkable. Inflammatory tests, tests demonstrating oxidation of fats, and blood sugar analyses ALL improve with proper eating and appropriate weight.

Then there’s the other commonplace admonition – exercise frequently, optimally on a daily basis. As with diet and weight management, exercise is an essential element in maintaining health and combating disease. Exercise can also take one’s abnormal blood tests and convert them to normal. The good news is that exercise does not demand visits to the gym. Gardening, walking, biking, hiking, and swimming all represent excellent forms of exercise.

Perhaps most important of all is the engagement of patients and their doctors. Patients and doctors need to work in concert in order to achieve the goals we all desire. By examining novel blood tests, appropriately utilizing the best of modern medical technology, and prescribing suitable medications when necessary, your doctor can help you achieve your optimal health. After teaching you the basics of physiology your physician can show you how your body responds to healthful adjustments. You can literally see yourself get healthier over time. From personal experience treating thousands of patients I can assure you that watching your own numbers improve will be incomparably motivating. So speak to your doctor; ask for his or her help; learn as much as you can about your own body; and get healthy in 2014!

Learn more about preventive cardiology at www.preventivecardiologyinc.com.

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Our Next Presidential Election: This One Counts

Again I am compelled to write a political blog. Romney just selected Ryan to be his running make.  Out of curiosity, I viewed the news coverage on both CNN and Fox.  As anticipated, neither station reported the news in an unbiased fashion. Instead of simply recording the news (apparently a task too mundane for the modern reporter), both networks took the opportunity to bolster their respective and diametrically opposed positions.  I guess the days of genuine unbiased reporting are gone. No longer does there seem to be a place where people like me can turn to learn the facts in order to be able to construct well-considered viewpoints.  And so our jobs have become much more difficult.  In order to be educated to the point of being able to create valid and truth-based opinions we must turn our attention to the primary sources.  We must listen to the politicians themselves.  And we must take them at their word.  And I for one liked what I heard from Romney and Ryan.

Both Romney and Ryan vocalized issues and solutions that resonated with me and many people I know – Democrats and Republicans alike. We all agree the debt is soaring out of control. We agree that American was founded on freedom and ideals – ours was an intellectually-born nation. We agree that we are on a downward spiral and we all acknowledge the emergence of unfamiliar sentiments pervading our nation – hopelessness and despair. Never before has our nation been shrouded in a sense of imminent and seemingly immutable doom. Everyone feels this. Everyone fears this — the “left” and the “right”. Yet when we should be standing together, our nation is more divided than ever. And the divisiveness is fostered by the words of our own president, the man who was elected on his promise of unity, brotherhood, hope, and his proclaimed ability to “reach across the aisle.”  It is fruitless however to point the finger of blame here. Whether or not it is his fault is irrelevant. We are here today on the brink of disaster and if we are to re-create the prosperity and hope that was once America, we must find solutions outside of rhetoric, mudslinging, allegations, and distortions of truth. We must all stop blaming others – we must address what we face today and find solutions so our children can live in a better tomorrow. So how do we do this? I believe the solution is simple.

First, Americans must take responsibility and listen to what the candidates say. We must listen closely and we must believe that the words they utter ascend from their hearts. When Obama says, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build it. Someone else did” we can’t make excuses and claim, “out of context!”  It certainly is “out of touch with the working man” but it is definitely not “out of context”. In his statement, Obama clearly subjugates the individual. He diminishes the efforts and strengths inherent in individuality, the very foundation of our country.  Let’s never forget that it is individuals, not nations, who win Nobel prizes, write plays, throw three-pointers, and win Olympic gold medals. Although Obama is correct that “No man is an island”, it is just one man, John Donne who penned those immortal words. Being inextricably connected to one another does not negate the power of individuality. Nations are built by individuals, not the other way around.

To be “in the know” we must also read our politicians’ bills. Daunting yes, but well worth the investment. (I read Obama’s Health care bill and was stunned by some of its edicts.) We must all be open to moving beyond our traditional party limits to vote for the candidates, principles and all, not the party in which they reside. I choose not to hide my position. I yearn for the country Romney and Ryan spoke of. I want freedom, opportunity, and hope for everyone. I disagree with Mr. Obama that in order for everyone to have opportunity the rich must pay more. My grandparents came to this nation penniless and through opportunity, hard work, perseverance, strength, and innate skills they did quite well. I am proud of their accomplishments and the achievements of many others in their generation. And none of these people depended on handouts. In fact, they would have abhorred that notion. I do believe we must help those in need – the sick and helpless should be cared for. The able-bodied however must be given the skills to earn their way up the ladder of success. They should not be carried. Such a process would serve no one.

I could go on interminably it seems, and that is not the purpose of a blog. Let me end by making a simple suggestion when deciding whom to vote for in November. Listen closely to the candidates, not their advertisements, and certainly not to the all-too-biased newscasters. Listen to their carefully selected words. Vote for whomever resonates with your view of what America should look like. We all agree America must change. The question each of us needs to answer is how.

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Be Careful What We Wish for… or Simply Permit

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak out for me.
Martin Niemöller regarding the Nazi purging of their many “targets”

Ordinarily, my Blog addresses medical issues. Today’s message is a hybrid; it deals with medicine, but also social matters. Specifically today’s focus is on the political and socioeconomic shifts already suffocating segments of our nation. I will not belabor the transition that medicine has already made. Medicare is by definition a socialist system. Make no mistake; our government dictates doctors’ and hospitals’ fees and annually ratchets them downward. The lay public typically ignores this fact because it does not impact them (at least not monetarily). People pay a lot for health insurance and have been led to believe they are entitled to free care. Unfortunately in order to provide such care, health care workers – doctors, hospitals, imaging centers…- have been dissected from our nation’s free market economy and forced to live in quite a different world. Doctors’ fees are not dictated by their skill or experience. Every doctor is considered the same, regardless of his or her expertise, additional training, better bedside manner, or even an indisputably greater skill-set. This construct contradicts our nation’s economic foundation. Hard work, dedication, and superior skill used to translate into the opportunity for economic success. That is no longer the case in medicine. Yet, no one outside of medicine blocked this theft of financial liberty because it was not in their immediate interest to fight that battle.  And Medicine represents 16% of our GNP!  So what kind of Nation do we live in? Is America still a Democracy?

Now our President’s Affordable Care Act is becoming a reality. I just received a letter from my health insurance company explaining why they are refunding me money from the premiums we have already paid. At first blush I was elated – after all, who wouldn’t want extra money. Then I considered the reason for the rebate. The Affordable Care Act instituted an 80/20 rule, demanding that only 20% of patients’ premiums be used for administrative purposes by health insurance companies. In other words, these companies have now entered my realm; the government is dictating what they can or cannot earn. Although I am no fan of the health insurance world, I see the signs that Niemöller spoke of. This is another group no one will fight for, and so they will lose. The banks are sure to be next; they have few friends so no one will stand by their side, as their businesses become government managed. Who will follow? Small businesses; the food industry; hotels; restaurants; the local ice cream store; your own or your child’s business???

The solution is simple. If we want to preserve a free-market economy; and a democratic society; if we want to continue to acknowledge that dedication, perseverance, sacrifice, drive, high aspirations, hope and good old fashioned hard work should be able to translate into financial success, then we must stand by even those people and businesses we dislike in order to protect them from losing their freedom. We need to understand that the more people, groups, and businesses lose their economic freedom, the more likely each of us will be to follow in their footsteps. Niemöller was right about the Nazis. Let’s appreciate his wisdom and heed his advice.

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