Q: Why are doctors quickly prescribing meds for HBP, instead of advising first on alternative natural approaches that have proven successful?
I am 38 years old and was diagnosed about 6 months ago with high blood pressure for the first time at 141/90. I never had a health issue before and I am not over weight. My doctor in a panic prescribed medication right away and stressed that I must take them or I am risking getting very sick. I asked if there is any other solution since I do not like meds, and he said not really. For 6 months I took the meds, which brought my blood pressure down, but caused me terrible side effects. Miserable and frustrated with my doctor for not seeking another solution, I started to research online and educate myself about high blood pressure. To my surprise I discovered a wealth of information from highly respected, medical institutions/organizations advising people with HBP to make lifestyle changes to lower their blood pressure and how important it is to do so. I spoke to my doctor about what I learned and brought him the information and he still advised me that such natural solutions are not as effective as meds and I cannot risk going off the meds. At this point, my doctor loss all credibility with me. I weaned myself off my medication and at the same time I started to eat according to the DASH diet, increased my exercise and reduced my stress levels, which were very high due to my new partner position at my law firm.Within about 3 months, my blood pressure improved far better than when I was on medication. I still need to bring it down a bit more, but at least I am doing better without meds and the terrible side effects.
Sorry for this long story, but I am really frustrated with the medical system jumping to shove meds down my throat. Someone recently mentioned that doctors are afraid of being sued so they prescribe meds right away. Is this true? Can you please explain to me why doctors are so eager to sell us meds, that they refuse to promote natural alternatives and why the doctor is not listening to me? By the way, it is not the first time I experienced this with a doctor and friends equally complain about this. Also, do you have additional advice for what else I can do to further improve my blood pressure? Thank you
A: With the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in the United States there has been a shift in the incentives for practicing medicine. Reimbursement for doctors will start to be based on outcomes. Doctors who take better care of their patients, based on measurable quality indicators, will be paid more. This will encourage doctors to take the time to explain all the options that are available to treat a problem. I believe that an informed patient that has participated in decisions regarding their health will be more compliant with a treatment program and thus will have a better outcome. Time will tell if this works.
It is easier and quicker to just write aprescription. It is human nature to take short cuts.