Is over-reliance on medicine bad for our health?


Summer is well and truly here and it’s a great time to be outdoors enjoying the active lifestyle.

At the Bagnall Centre we firmly believe that a healthy lifestyle and good diet are a fundamental part of your overall good health and wellbeing, both physical and mental.

‘Lifestyle’ Conditions

So-called ‘lifestyle’ conditions such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes are on the rise in the UK and now account for 90 percent of deaths each year. It is becoming increasingly evident that modern, sedentary lifestyles and poor diet are causing a public health emergency – but is our healthcare system going the right way about dealing with this crisis?

Health Policy - time for change?

Writing in The Pharmaceutical Journal earlier this month, consultant cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra and Professor Dame Sue Bailey made the case for a rethink of health policy to tackle these issues more effectively, encouraging people to engage more actively with their health and questioning whether the current level of medical intervention for lifestyle conditions is necessary, effective or sustainable.

Case Study

They make a case study of a former airline pilot who was prescribed several types of medication following a heart attack, including high-dose statins. Having experienced debilitating side effects, and after carefully researching the issue, he took the decision to stop taking statins and instead to overhaul his lifestyle and diet.

After learning that insulin resistance is a key risk factor for heart attack, he switched to a Mediterranean diet rich in olive and fish oils, whole grains and non-starchy vegetables, and he eliminated sugar and refined carbohydrates.

Consulting a cardiologist, it was agreed that he had reached a well-informed decision. Although the cardiologist suggested a lower dose of statins, eventually the patient decided not to restart any medication as the consultation showed that his risk markers for cardiovascular disease were excellent.

Open Communication and Empowering Patients

Bailey and Malhotra use this case to illustrate the idea that open communication and empowering patients to make informed decisions can lead to excellent outcomes as people are encouraged to take responsibility for their own health, arguing, ‘It’s time to enter a new era in healthcare to produce better healthcare professionals, better patients and better decisions, where shared decision-making is the most important outcome that matters when it comes to evidence-based practice.’