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Don’t forget the forest when scanning the trees

One of the worst things that we do in Western medicine is single out single risk factrors to focus on.

So, for example, when thinking what do to about our risk for cardiovascular illness (CVD), we – that is, doctors, and even ourselves as patients – far too often focus most (sometimes, all) our attention on cholesterol readings, for example.

Or blood pressure.

But illness – and wellness – are a factor of our total risk factors, and singling out one perhaps two, is not nearly as important usually as looking at our overall approach how we are living.

And that’s exactly what researchers who looked at country-specific levels of cardiovascular risk across 45 low-income and middle-income countries concluded, namely, that “managing single risk factors like blood pressure rather than looking at overall risk (is likely) wasting . . . resources in (those) countries.”

That doesn’t just hold for people in Guatemala, say, or Laos.

It also holds true for us: If you want to lower your risk of CVD or dementia or diabetes or nearly any chronic illness that rises with age, you will likely do better if you focus on your total approach to how you live, not just on a single risk factor.