The saying goes, “An apple a day, keeps the doctor away.” I like that saying and I do try to be a minimalist when it comes to western medicine. But in our current environment, do we really want to keep the doctor away?

Last week I wrote about Die With Zero by Bill Perkins, and since then numerous people have told me how much his philosophy resonated with them. And I’ve continued to think about it myself. What I may not have gotten across as well as I would have liked was the concept most impactful for me; it’s the importance of finding BALANCE in life between our time, our health, and our money. If any one of those is off, it can significantly affect our life energy and enjoyment.

I’ve been thinking a lot about health lately. To reiterate, an investment in your health is an investment in every future experience. And no amount of money can make up for poor health. But an investment in your health could also mean that you’re actually around a lot longer to make those memories with friends and family. Last week I mentioned hearing of the death of a man my age who was thought to be healthy, yet it appears he died from a heart attack. It has been a devastating blow to his family and friends. But what if his death was preventable? What can you and I learn from this tragic event?

You’ve probably heard that the number one cause of death in the United States today is heart disease. According to Peter Attia, MD, there are three major risk factors that cause this condition:

  1. 1 – Smoking
  2. 2 – High Blood Pressure – Hypertension leads to increased strain on the heart and causes damage to the arteries that supply the heart.
  3. 3 – High Cholesterol – High cholesterol levels leads to formation of plaque deposits in blood vessels. Over time those deposits can build up and lead to heart attack and stroke.

I’ve gotta say, that even as a physician, I’ve done a terrible job of getting regular check ups and actively seeking to prevent heart disease. I rarely take my blood pressure. The good news is that there are effective treatments for the above causes. If addressed early and effectively (also factoring in genetics and current health), you can almost eliminate your risk of having a heart attack. Last week I finally established care with a primary care physician and I highly recommend you do the same. I purchased a blood pressure cuff to monitor it more closely. It’s worth getting educated so you know what to ask your physician and how to take responsibility for your health. Please reach out to me if you have any specific questions and I’d be happy to try to help. 

The number two cause of death in the United States is cancer. Lung cancer is far and away the most deadly. Second is colorectal cancer. Recently the national guidelines for colonoscopy changed so that screening starts at age 45 (down from 50). If you are over 45, schedule your colonoscopy today! Seriously, today. As an anesthesiologist who provides sedation for these procedures, I can tell you how absolutely devastating it is to find cancer. Believe me, no one in the procedure room cares about seeing your butt. But everyone cares about preventing a horrible disease. The prep can be pretty awful, but the propofol nap can be so good (yes the Michael Jackson drug, but you’ll be in the hands of a trained professional!). Please, schedule your colonoscopy today!

One final thought: The three pillars of health are diet, exercise, and SLEEP. Clearly a topic of another day, but improvement in any of these activities will lead to a healthier life and decreased risk of chronic and deadly illness. If you are in peak physical health, I applaud you. If like me however, there are improvements to be made, I invite you to make a change today. It could make all the difference tomorrow.