The US Budget Deficit and growing public debt have been topics of much conversation over the last several months. It is no secret that controlling rising healthcare costs plays a major role in determining our ability to reduce these numbers. As a result, it is also no secret that wellness and prevention of illnesses must become commonplace in order for these fiscal problems to improve.
In my family practice consisting of hundreds of elderly patients, it is not uncommon for one or even two patients to die per month from chronic preventable illnesses such as coronary artery disease. Over the last two months three of my patients died.
K.F. was a 50-year-old woman who ironically was “doing better lately” when I saw her just 3 days before she suddenly died. She smoked 2 packs of cigarettes for over 40 years. At the end she was suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease on oxygen 24 hours/day, Severe Obesity and Hypertension.
K.J. was a 50-year-old man who I saw just the day before he experienced sudden chest pain and died. His last LDL was 64. At the time of his death he was suffering from Morbid Obesity (BMI 54), Hypertension, Diabetes Mellitus type 2, Congestive Heart Failure and Chronic Kidney Disease.
M.G. was a 28-year-old woman who was found dead at home just last week. She had smoked cigarettes for 10 years, had 3 children, had Cervical Cancer treated with a hysterectomy last year and also suffered from Anxiety.
None of them were elderly. This is sad and difficult to accept, but also portrays a worrisome picture for the future of our standard of health and living in this country. These three patients are great examples showing the need for more prevention to reduce premature deaths, healthcare costs and ultimately the federal deficit.
However getting patients to make the necessary lifestyle changes is very difficult and frustrating. Dr. Jan Gurley writes, "The fact is that most Americans know what’s killing us. Is there anyone left on Earth who thinks smoking is good for you? Stop smoking, eat better, exercise, and wear your seatbelt. Just those four simple steps, alone, could save more lives than any newsworthy, groundbreaking research ever announced." Americans changing to a sensible lifestyle is the single most important thing towards a longer and healthier life and economy.