First Do No Harm: The One Things that Drives Me NUTS as a Doctor

By Michael Dangovian

September 8, 2016

Even after twenty-plus years as a practicing cardiologist, there is one thing that—above all else—drives me nuts.

Before I get to that, though, let me make something very clear.

My Passion

Treating people—seeing sick people become well—is my passion. It’s what gets me out of bed each morning. It’s what drives every healthy habit I’ve built over a lifetime dedicated to teaching others to do the same. It’s the goal of my life.

I love being a cardiologist.

But what I hate is the culture that the medical establishment has created over the last century.

Let me explain…

The “Moderation” Myth

We hear this a lot these days: “Everything in moderation.” It’s the idea that yeah, sure, some things are bad for you. But you can still consume them as long as it’s done in moderation.

Back in the 1960s, for example, if you smoked half a pack of cigarettes a day you would’ve been considered a health nut, simply because every one smoked. Everyone smoked a lot.

So moderation, in this case, would still have killed you decades before an otherwise smoke-free lifestyle would have.

What’s frustrating about this attitude is not so much that so many people have it. Instead, it’s the source. This idea is exactly what the medical establishment has been preaching for almost a century.

And it drives me nuts.

Here’s what “moderation” really means when the medical system uses it. It means that whatever you do, whenever you do it, as long as the thing doesn’t kill you outright, medical science will be able to take care of the consequences.

Turns out, that’s an empty—and highly dangerous—promise.

This is why I have people show up in my office on a weekly basis expecting that I can fix whatever is wrong with their hearts simply by waving a magic medical wand in their general direction. They’ve spent decades eating terribly, drinking heavily, smoking their lungs to a blackened crisp, and carrying around enough belly fat to choke a horse… but the expectation is that I will be able to undo all of that with a simple procedure or a script for few pills.

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This is NOT Your Fault

This, of course, isn’t the patients’ fault. Not at all. They only believe what they’ve been taught, repeatedly and loudly, over the course of their lives. Which is: Medicine and doctors are there to cure whatever is ailing you.

Live however you want to live. There’s a pill to fix everything when your health suddenly goes flying off the rails.

This is the magical answer to a very real problem. This is the end result of our “there’s a pill for that” society.

And it simply doesn’t work that way.

Not even a little, in fact.

This is how it actually works:

How “Healthy” Works

Getting healthy—and staying that way—comes when your bad habits are replaced with good, healthy ones. It happens when you slowly but deliberately gain awareness of what you are doing on daily basis, why you are doing it, and making the choice to replace the unhealthy with the life-giving.

None of this happens in isolation, however. And, like I said, none of it happens quickly.

Just like it took you fifty years for that smoking habit to finally corrode your heart and lungs to the point that it’s now life-threatening, so too does it take a while for new habits to form.

There’s not a pill for that, unfortunately.

But there is a plan.

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