A New Spin on National Doctor's Day: When Doctors Celebrate Patient Health
Historically, National Doctors’ Day has been the one day each year when patients celebrate the care and attention their physicians provide them. Yet in some medical practices, doctors celebrate their patients’ health with each visit. They take the time to talk to and examine the patient, discuss any physical changes or emotional concerns, run complete blood panels and necessary tests, and together chart a course toward healthy living.
Dr. Eric Serrano, M.D., is one of those doctors. Along with offering an intensive diagnostic evaluation and a comprehensive annual wellness plan, he also stresses the importance of a healthy heart. He discusses with his patients how cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. and how somewhere in the country, an American has a heart attack every 34 seconds.
That’s why when Dr. Serrano greets each patient in the examination room they begin a conversation about factors that can affect heart health. They discuss lifestyle habits – diet, exercise, stress and weight, for example – and the hidden issues that can cause serious illness.
They review how traditional indicators of heart health – like cholesterol – alone are insufficient in providing a reliable indication of a patient’s risk for a heart attack. He cites the MDVIP and Cleveland HeartLab study, which showed that in 95,000 MDVIP patients, researchers were able to identify heightened cardiovascular risk in those who had normal cholesterol levels and were thought to be at low risk by measuring cardiac inflammation. He points out that the MDVIP/CHL multimarker approach to screening revealed that 70% of patients in the study were identified with some risk. So when the patient’s blood is drawn, Dr. Serrano orders the multimarker screening and work-up that far exceeds the standard in search of blood vessel inflammation that can lead to a heart attack.
Next, doctor and patient take a “Walk with the Doc.” With a heart rate monitor strapped to the patient, together they’ll walk around the office or the building. As they walk and chat, Dr. Serrano dispels the notion that heart health only comes from a hard work-out. Instead, he demonstrates how even moderate exertion found with as little as a brisk walk a few times each week – and other preventive measures – can help heart health and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
“When I was taking care of 3,000 patients, all I could say was ‘exercise,’” Dr. Serrano explains. “Now I can work with and walk with patients and share with them that healthy living is easily achievable.”
Primary care physicians like Dr. Serrano seek to establish close partnerships with their patients. They discuss the value of having a physician with the time, the tools and the technology to truly effect change in a patient’s well-being.
So, this National Doctors’ Day, along with celebrating the care your doctor provides you, ask whether your doctor celebrates your heart and whole-body health with proper screenings, discussions about diet and exercise, and the pursuit of good health.