Recent advancements in medicine
by Doctor Jason Creel
GWINNETT - Recent advancements in medicine have been very exciting. In all medical specialties there have been innovative developments to more precisely and effectively treat diseases. Once considered a very risky procedure, cardiologists now place coronary artery stents to prevent heart attacks routinely. Thanks to advancements in auto-immune suppression medications and surgical techniques, organ transplants continue to become more commonplace with significantly better outcomes. Across the nation thousands of lives are spared each day in fully functional dialysis centers.
Potentially the most profound area of progress and innovation in medicine would be pharmaceuticals. Now prescription drugs decrease disease processes and prolong life in almost all areas of medicine. The list would be lengthy and include such conditions as congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, diabetes, renal insufficiency, cancer, stroke, AIDS, emphysema and multitudes of auto-immune diseases.
As a physician I am very grateful for all of these advancements, however my experience with patients has also shown many drawbacks to these advancements. This is probably most apparent in dealing with medication side-effects, including such symptoms as nausea, dry mouth, muscle cramps, fatigue, irritability, drowsiness, headache, diarrhea, appetite and libido changes.
In addition, these powerful drugs that have been shown to prolong life also provide more opportunities for disease exacerbations. For example, someone with severe lung or heart disease might find themselves routinely in the doctor’s office (not to mention the many E.R. visits) for disease complications. Please don’t misunderstand me, often the benefits outweigh the disadvantages of modern medicine. The point is we cannot depend on advancements in the medical field to always improve the quality of life. Frequently one’s longevity is lengthened, but at the expense of decreased satisfaction with life. Therefore, we must begin early to consider how we might prevent disease.
Sometimes I joke with my patients, saying “If you removed alcohol, drugs, tobacco, poor diet, and sedentary life-styles, I would probably be out of a job.” Although there are many exceptions to this statement, it probably hits home more often than not.
However, I don’t think that I will start job hunting yet because changing ones’ life-style seems to be one of the biggest challenges that patients face. But I have seen many individuals make changes that significantly increased their quality of life. And any change toward good health, big or small, done in youth or as an elder does make a difference. Next week we will explore some healthy life-style changes and discuss an array of common medical screening tests to help detect, slow and prevent disease.
Until then, your prescription for the week is: When going shopping park toward the back of the lot. While getting some exercise walking to the door, take a few deep breaths and look around for someone to smile at.
*The purpose of this article is to better educate readers regarding important health issues, and to help motivate one to make changes for preventing or improving disease states resulting in a better quality of life. In no way is this article meant to substitute for routine physician visits or treat specific diseases. Always ask your physician before making changes in your current planned health care.