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Lifestyle medicine: a new medical specialty?

BMJ 2018; 363 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k4442 (Published 25 October 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;363:k4442

Re: Lifestyle medicine: a new medical specialty?

Thanks for publishing such a thought-provoking article which I thoroughly enjoyed. Hippocrates said so eloquently long before we made medicine a science and business.

“If you are not your own doctor, you are a fool.” Hippocrates

I think we have a desperate need to accept that the current model of medicine will neither be sufficient nor sustainable in years to come. If we have the freedom to utilize the health care system then we should have a responsibility to promote healthy behavior and try to sustain it lifelong. The healthcare system should be used when lifestyle interventions seem to be failing. By medicalising conditions, we foster a false hope that lifestyle diseases can and should be treated at any stage. The government should encourage healthy behaviors and reward champions to drive the message across. No amount of statins can undo the effects of an unhealthy lifestyle without side effects and incurring cost to the taxpayer.

Finland had one of the highest ischemic heart disease-related deaths in the world. Dr Pekka Puska and his team orchestrated a multi-pronged, community-wide approach starting with North Karelia, and within five years it spread to all of Finland. Now the country has witnessed over 75% reduction in the last four decades by dramatically controlling risk factors like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking.

We as human beings, whether a doctor or a patient, have an obligation to actively seek what is healthy, pursue what is wholesome and get help when we fall short or get sick.

Competing interests: No competing interests

30 October 2018
Rishabha Deva Sharma
Breast Surgeon & Holistic Wellness Educator
Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust Barnstaple
Barnstaple