Oscar M. Aguilar, M.D., FACC, FAHA, CWP
When I was a medical student, I was taught that Alzheimer’s disease was incurable, yet treatable and such therapy would slow down its progression. I was also taught diabetes was a chronic not curable disease that could be improved with some medication to some extent. This cannot be farther from the truth. The problem lies in the fact that, our traditional medicine is reactive and basis it’s therapy on treating the consequences of a disease as opposed to the causes of a disease, that is, the source of the problem. Most human diseases are multifactorial which means that, multiple levels of human metabolic pathways are involved. For instance, diabetes, smoking, family history, hyperlipidemia or high cholesterol, obesity, high blood pressure are all risk for Alzheimer’s as well as for cardiac diseases.
Being a cardiologist has allowed me to understand the basis of vessels diseases. Our vessels are ultimately wo deliver blood flow, nutrients and oxygen to every single corner of our body. I also became an interventional cardiologist, this means that, I was trained to insert wires and small hollow tubes into patient’s vessels and navigate inside these vessels to different organs such the heart and open the clogged vessel to improve patient’s symptoms such as chest pain, also called angina. Opening vessels in the heart was fascinating and all my lifetime educational investments. Sixteen years of intense training I was now ready to do the task. However, about 10 years of being a very busy interventional cardiologist, I came to realize that most, if not all my patients needed to lose weight, decrease cholesterol, control their blood pressure, improve their diabetes, control stress and increase their physical activity. The vast majority had a condition called metabolic syndrome, a condition seldom heard but the main cause of heart attacks. Some needed to quit smoking while others needed to have their sleep improved. The sad news is that a highly trained physician like me, did not know how to achieve all these pivotal changes in my patients. In medicine we use a pill or more for each one of the risk factors mentioned.
Commonly our patients end up with a bag of pills. This made me feel unsatisfied, unfulfilled and disappointed. This was what ignited me to start looking into functional and integrative medicine. This was the time when I started looking at the source of the diseases which as mentioned above, a vast majority like cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s and heart disease have common risk factors. These diseases are also among the most prevalent or common diseases in the USA and among the top 5 causes of death. In the United States, every 33 seconds someone as a heart attack, whereas every 65 seconds someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. At present, more than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease and it’s estimated that by 2050 about millions of Americans will suffer this disease.
We all know someone with Alzheimer’s or have a relative or a friend with Alzheimer’s. I have seen thousands of patients with this condition, but I had never seen anyone getting better or back to normal. However, through the pursuit of preventing heart attacks it was to my surprise that, some of the patients with a cognitive impairment would get better. This observation led me to look deeply into this. I came across with the research and work of brilliant people such as Dr. Dale Bredesen and Dr. Mark Hyman among others. I found their work was ahead of my observations and they had important protocols to treat cognitive impairment disease, of which Alzheimer’s is the most common. Coupling this with our own results is when I decided we needed to incorporate a cognitive impairment program to our clinic, hence the birth of Alzheimer’s Functional Protocol. In this program we acquire all the information about our patient as well as do a thorough evaluation and exam that allow us to outline a personalized therapy plan addressing the roots of the problems.