Saturday, March 11, 2017

A Healthy Dose of Sarcasm - Here's Your Pill

After a brief blog diversion to Body Odor, this week's post returns to Death Factor X and the pathway to finding it.

Big Healthcare has its actuarial tables worked out. They know the average human's biological and psychological cycle and have a plan to profit from it - complete with a marketing budget. You can say it any number of ways but perhaps the simplest form is "There's money in them there pills."

Prior to middle age you go to the doctor for the equivalent of an oil change and fluid check. Towards the end, you're in for a transmission overall and electrical system replacement - the one they never get right, requiring multiple return visits until you eventually sell the car.

Big Healthcare's actuarial tables state the following based on your age:
  • 20 to 39 - 99% of the time there’s nothing wrong that lifestyle changes or time can’t fix. You're Big Vanity's profit center for now.
  • 40 to 49 - doctors look for things to treat later unless they find something to treat now. Big Vanity loves this age as you try to keep your looks from the previous decade.
  • 50 to 59 - doctors look for Death Factor X and begin treatment if needed. Big Vanity's profits begin to give way to Big Healthcare.
  • 60 and later - Jackpot! 
By some unwritten rule, sometime in your 40s, you must have a pill - usually for high blood pressure or high cholesterol. After the first pill, each doctor's visit involves swapping the prescription for another or adding a new medication. Doctors, especially doctors in large corporate healthcare organizations, get the benefit of routine office visits to evaluate the effectiveness of your medication.

Of course, you're only out the copay for the office visit and the prescription. Your insurance company, if you have one, picks up the rest. I suspect the entirety of Big Healthcare would collapse if the pill pattern changed.

I don’t care much for the healthcare industry. Mostly because Big Healthcare isn't designed to maintain health; they treat symptoms and diseases. If you have high blood pressure - get the speech on lifestyle modification and a pill. If your blood pressure goes higher, another speech on lifestyle modification and a different pill.

However, there is data to support the pill approach. Dr. Worth, my previous doctor, prescribed my very first forever pill for Hypertension aka High Blood Pressure. This seemed logical due to my family history of heart disease and elevated blood pressure.

I’m not alone in needing a forever pill in my mid-forties according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). By 55 over half the American population have hypertension.

Age of Diagnosed Hypertension
Men (%)
Women (%)
75 and older

Hypertension is nasty stuff. Treat it! Check out these statistics from the American Heart Association if you think high blood pressure isn't a threat.
  • First heart attack: About 7 of every 10 people having their first heart attack have high blood pressure.
  • First stroke: About 8 of every 10 people having their first stroke have high blood pressure.
  • Chronic (long-lasting) heart failure: About 7 of every 10 people with chronic heart failure have high blood pressure.
Of course, you have a choice regarding the forever pill. According to the Mayo Clinic, you can
  1. Shed belly fat
  2. Exercise regularly
  3. Eat a healthy diet
  4. Reduce sodium in your diet
  5. Limit alcohol intake
  6. Quit smoking
  7. Cut back on caffeine
  8. Reduce stress
Most people opt for the pill.

I took my pill and promised Dr. Worth I'd tackle at least half the items on the list. I lost weight and exercised more. It worked. I dropped from 239 lbs down to 216 lbs, mostly by cutting out fast food; a mainstay of my diet at the time.

Every trip back to the doctor brought the same lifestyle lecture but Dr. Worth seemed pleased with the weight loss. Things were going well. My blood tests showed good blood sugar and cholesterol levels. That's why Dr. Worth confused me with the suggested I start another medication for cholesterol.

I disagreed.

Which leads to our next post: Firing Your Doctor.

Until then - stay healthy, my friends.

10 ways to control high blood pressure without medication - Mayo Clinic
High Blood Pressure Facts - Centers for Disease Control
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