As a health care provider I understand the importance of well-rounded care and emphasize strong foundations in health. All chronic conditions – from diabetes to cardiovascular disease – follow a “triangle” model of prevention and treatment, with lifestyle changes such as changes to diet, exercise and behaviour as the basis of care. These changes are then followed by medication use and surgical intervention, when necessary.
Today, diabetes impacts more than 8 million Canadians, and this number is on the rise. Diabetes increases the likelihood of blindness, amputations and kidney disease. Diabetes doubles the risk of heart disease, the number one killer of Canadian adults. Similarly, research suggests that gout, a type of arthritis that generally affects the big toe, also increases the risk of heart disease. The prevalence of gout in Canada is also on a rise, affecting over a million people today. It is becoming clear that health conditions cannot be treated in isolation, but that we must take into consideration that one ailment can complicate lives and progress to additional obstacles. As a result, health care providers must not only prescribe a pill for symptoms, but also address the roots of the problem, whether it is poor dietary habits, a lack of physical activity or behaviours such as smoking.
Although we are fortunate enough to live in a country where we have relatively good access to healthcare, our healthcare system is becoming saturated. We need to shift from a reactive model of care where we respond to a patient with elevated blood sugar levels, to a proactive one where we take measures to prevent that diabetes patient from having a heart attack, which will further stress the system.
It is worth recognizing that the average person also has the power to improve his/her health. For centuries researchers have known the power of good dietary habits and exercise to prevent disease, help overcome it, and promote psychological wellbeing. It is with this spirit we introduce our second edition of Clinical Trials Canada magazine with a focus on diet and exercise as basic modalities or foundations for chronic disease management.
As always, we hope we can help you implicate yourself in better health choices.
Written by Igor Wilderman, M.D