It’s been a very interesting few weeks in my office. My office staff and I get great satisfaction when we see our clients succeed in changing their health, and life around for the better. Last month after doing a public lecture on lowering blood pressure several individuals, who attended, chose to try our path to helping to lower their blood pressure and lowering their risk of potentially debilitating diseases. Two of those people within three weeks of changing some unhealthy behaviors have already lowered their blood pressure to below average!
Someone came into us with terrible, even unbearable lower back pain last week. As of yesterday, his pain had diminished by about 80% and for the first time in a month, he is totally functional. Several individuals who started our 10 week weight loss program over the last two months are seeing great results which are helping multiple health issues they have in addition to just helping them feel better. What is the common denominator between all of these success stories? They are all accomplishing their goals with hard work and without medications. They are using TLC!
TLC—when I was growing up that meant tender loving care. In today’s world the initials TLC also
stand for Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes. This TLC is the latest term to describe medically based, structured, supportive programs to help people lower their risk and to reverse life-threatening conditions such as hypertension, stroke, diabetes and heart disease. The purpose of this program is to help people improve eating habits, exercise, manage stress, quit smoking, and learn how to lead an active life style. Unfortunately, due to being inundated with patients and lack of time, the medical profession often ignores TLC. That is something that is very costly to both the patient and to the economy as a whole. It is much cheaper to improve your health without drugs or surgery.
Dr. Neil Gordon, M.D., PhD, who is a preventive cardiologist, headed a study published in 2004 in the Journal of Cardiology, reported the effectiveness of a 12-week community-based lifestyle management program. This particular program was geared toward people with hypertension, abnormal cholesterol, and diabetes. Dr. Gordon and his team found that many of the patients achieved their goals–without medication. Specifically:
- 67% of people lowered their blood pressure to their stated goals
- 39% of people lowered their blood sugar to acceptable levels
- 21% of people lowered the LDL Cholesterol to their goal level
It is important when beginning a TLC program that you are first evaluated to assess your current health status and to see what your risk of disease is. Then you need to state your outcome goals for the program. Do you want to lower cholesterol, blood pressure or blood sugar? Do you need to quit smoking? And now how are you going to reach those goals? You may choose a combination of dietary change along with a well-rounded exercise program. You may also need to add some behavioral coaching or therapy into the equation. Each program needs to be set up individually, keeping in mind the patient’s abilities to exercise, their daily schedule, and their capacity to stick to a program.
It may be easier to prescribe drug therapy for a patient. If the root cause can be treated and preventative measures can be taken, than TLC should be the first step. Even if one needs to take medication, those medicines will likely work much better in conjunction with TLC. TLC doesn’t just treat the symptoms; it treats the underlying problems and works to prevent you from getting unhealthy. TLC is so effective that 54% of US Corporations have incorporated it into their work place. The results are more productivity in the workplace as workers take less sick-days, and workers get more tasks accomplished each day.
Using prescription drugs is also expensive. Overall prescription spending rose to $773 per capita for the year 2010-2011. Prescriptions made up 17.0% of total per capita spending in 2011 and 25.4% of out-of-pocket per capita spending. For 2011, average price for a brand prescription rose by 17.7%. In 2014, Americans averaged $1,000 per year in both prescription and over the counter drugs. TLC? Maybe there is some initial investment, but in the long term, it will end up much, much cheaper. Imagine if you could save $300, $500, or $800 per month!
There is no doubt that there are times when drug therapy is the only recourse. But always ask your doctor if you can try TLC first. Go and see a wellness coach or personal trainer and try it first. Be in contact with the American Heart Association and Medline Plus for some help and guidance. Even if it doesn’t work completely, it can lower your drug dosages substantially. Take a moment and think of the savings in both not suffering the side effects of most of these drugs and the financial savings of reducing or eliminating the need for them. Even if you are perfectly healthy, TLC is the best preventative medicine around. Using Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes is great way to “add hours to your day, days to your year, and years to your life.”