Healthcare System vs. Disease Care System
47-years old. Burnt out. I’m sitting in my emergency room cubicle frantically clicking a mouse and navigating documentation and orders on an electronic medical record. The nurse brings me an electrocardiogram. 47 y/o male. I look at the electrocardiogram. STEMI (ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction). Heart attack. I hurry into emergency department bed 7. He looks pretty stable. I have to cut to the chase because time is heart muscle and I need to give him thrombolytics and ship him to Anchorage, so the cardiologists can do more advanced care. I inform him that he is having a heart attack. I ask a few quick screening questions to be sure the clot buster isn’t contraindicated. It is not, and I order verbally to get things moving.
But here’s the problem – 47 y/o male, no high blood pressure, no diabetes, non-smoker, with no family history of accelerated heart disease. Probably not at ideal body weight, but certainly not obese. No major risk factors at all. Could be me. You see, we don’t have a healthcare system in this country; we have a disease care system. And, as such, we do a poor job of screening for development of chronic disease and usually don’t find out about it until there is end organ damage – such as dead heart muscle. Furthermore, once we discover chronic disease, the system will hammer the patient with a litany of drugs with tremendous side effects, all the while ignoring the real cause of the disease. Perfect system, if you are the pharmaceutical industry, not if you’re the patient.
Defying the Odds
My job today is to fly four fishermen into the bush, remote stream and lake fishing. The guests are staying at my lodge, All Alaska Outdoors, a business I built in 1996, shortly after completing my residency in emergency medicine and moving to Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula.
My problem today, I just want to stay in bed. I have always been a high-energy person. Consequently, by this time in life I have 5 kids, own and operate the lodge with my wife, Suzanne, and practice full-time emergency medicine in the town of Soldotna. When not in the ER, I am flying a Dehavilland Beaver, doing my best to amaze my guests with the Alaska I know so well. Just to make sure I don’t get bored, I also direct the EMS system for the Kenai Peninsula. But today, the weather was perfect, and all I had to do was live my dream, fly a Beaver and experience the most fantastic wilderness on planet Earth.
No energy. Don’t even want to wake up and have to start thinking about everything, too many sticks in the fire, so far behind. I get out of bed. My back and joints seem to ache more in the last couple of years. Of course, the trip was outstanding, and being with my guests energizes me, and I go on.
A few nights later, a Cenegenics commercial comes on. The couple of 50+ year old docs on the ad look amazing for their age. I dial the 800 number and leave a long message. I am going to figure out how to take care of my family, and myself and it is my number one priority. That was a life changing moment.
Age Management – Precision Medicine
I attended Cenegenics Certification in Age Management Medicine, a course provided by the Cenegenics Institute, and Dr. Jeff Leake is the lead instructor. He is one important man in my life. Between the weeklong course and the home study, amounting to about 200 hundred hours of Continuing Medical Education, my brain was filled with incredible knowledge—knowledge that the disease model medical training I had received completely neglected. I had been doing so much wrong, especially with diet.
I had been a lifelong exerciser, but results were dwindling. Now, I could still get down to ideal body weight, all I had to do was 1 hour on a stairclimber, 5-6 nights a week, and go to bed hungry. Unsustainable. Hence, the yo-yo scale. After the evidence-based science that Dr. Leake presented to me during my training, I knew things were going to change. I had conviction that, if I followed the program, it was going to work. I followed it exactly. Right down to the cheat meal, once a week.
I reshaped my exercise regimen according to the guidelines provided to me, and I started a number of important supplements. I had never taken vitamins or the like. I remember, in med school, one lecture I attended had an instructor inform us that if you took vitamins, what you got was expensive urine. What a moron. One other thing that occurred during this transition in my life, I became hormone optimized. Now, as I said, I knew things were going to change, but what I wasn’t prepared for was how fast.
I essentially went from the picture on the left to the picture on the right in 3 months. When I got to Hawaii 3 months after starting the program, I hit the surf. I have been surfing for decades now, so I know that on about day 4 or 5, I will be so sore that I have to take a day off. Not this time. 14 days straight of surfing, with double the waves caught. Amazing! By this time, I literally feel like I am walking two feet off the ground. Furthermore, I have maintained that accomplishment for 5 years now. I eat when I am hungry, but with consciousness. I train intensely, but briefly on a nearly daily basis. I follow all of my disease risk markers on a regular basis with my personal Cenegenics physician, Dr. Mohktare. I no longer have that dreaded sense that I might be a ticking time bomb. Well worth the investment.
The Solution to Optimal Health
My initial intent was to learn how to manage my own wellness and the lives of my loved ones. However, after experiencing miraculous changes in my life, I felt like it was my duty to provide this to others. I built my own office from the ground up – Cenegenics, Alaska. I also had a functioning 4-acre fishing lodge resort, vacation destination, where I conceived the idea of “Wellness Week”. I knew that one of the main factors that contributed to my success in the program was conviction.
I was sure that if you had the medical, scientific, and training background that I had, you would have the same conclusion. So, how do I convey this information to my patients and create the same level of conviction and motivation to succeed? I spent the last couple of years creating lectures that serve to present the important science I now know, in a format that the average patient will understand.
My Wellness Week takes the Cenegenics Elite Health Evaluation day and expands it into an entire educational week, with nightly modified Paleo dinners and coverage of the topics critical to success. I first want everyone to understand 1) chronic disease. Next, the most important modifiable risk factor, 2) Nutrition. Unfortunately for us all, 3) Exercise is next on your pathway to health. Now 4) Hormone optimization, when clinically indicated, is a catalyst to the process (and I don’t think my success would have been so shocking without it). 5) Supplements are important also, and I feel this is another topic that needs coverage.
Activate Your Health
So, here I am today at 54 years old. Energy is back. No pain anywhere. More sticks in the fire than ever, and I just wake up every day, ready to tackle whatever comes next. I can still hit fastballs in the mid 80’s, if I train for one month to work on bat speed and vision. I assist in coaching high school baseball, and I know that less than a 3rd of the 36-man roster finishes ahead of me. I lead conditioning, and only very few can do my 15, one minute each, plyometric exercises without resting. When we finish up with sprints, there are less than a handful of guys that can beat me in the 60-yard dash. When I consider the scientific evidence that compares health to fitness, I smile because if you are fit, you almost just don’t die!
The group of Cenegenics doctors that I partner with are desperate to keep up with the evolving science of wellness. Find a Cenegenics physician near you. Let your training begin. Become the athlete that is in your genetics. Your Cenegenics physician will help you activate the genes of health and wellness with their dedication to precision anti-aging treatments and medicine. The state-of-the-art extensive testing and surveillance that they provide will help you figure out what is right for you. I have seen my results replicated in my own patients. It changed my life, for sure, and it can help you too.
The article was written and contributed to Jetset Magazine by Dr. Robert Ledda.
After graduating from University of Texas Southwestern Medical School with honors, Dr. Ledda completed a residency in emergency medicine. He has become a true expert in disease and has practiced for over 25 years and seen over 60,000 patients. He has never had any disciplinary or legal action taken against him in his entire career. Four years ago he did a fellowship in Wellness and Precision Medicine. In 2013, Dr. Ledda became certified in age management medicine and is now a Cenegenics partner operating his own clinic on the grounds of his privately owned lodge in Soldotna, Alaska.