Monday, October 26, 2009

First line of defense

In class our professor said, you have a patient with high blood pressure. You need to bring it down ASAP. What do you do?

"Beta blockers? ACE inhibitors?" We say, feeling smart that we know the terms.

"Nope. How could we have corrupted you so early? He says. The first thing you do is get him exercising, modifying his eating habits and give his body a chance to do what it does best. If his risk is too high, he might need a pharmacological agent to help in the short term. But, that's what it is supposed to be...a crutch until his body can make the necessary modifications to help itself. Any time you put someone on blood pressure medicine, it is with a lifestyle change plan. And, it's with the expressed expectation that they are weaning off in the not so distant future.

Of course drugs have side effects. Our bodies are amazing, really complicated machines. If you stick a butter knife in your computer fan because the noise is bugging you, how's that going to go long term? Drugs are the backup. They're for when you've done all you can do by eating healthy food, exercising regularly, sleeping well, investing in friendships to keep stress low and you're still having a problem. They aren't permission to behave badly. When used that way, they will backfire. And, really, is it their fault?"

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