Before It Happens to You is about the number-one killer in the world – heart disease. Its purpose is to shake the reader into realizing the dangers of high cholestrol, high blood pressure, obesity and genetic factors that can put a person into the danger zone for potential heart disease, even as early as their forties.
Written by Dr. Jonathan Sackner Bernstein, the director of the Heart Failure Provention Program at North Shore University in New York, Before It Happens to You documents the various forms of heart disease and how they emerge in the body, often due to situations we can control, such as diet and weight, but just as often due to things we cannot, such as genetics. The book details a plan of action to stop heart disease in its tracks that revolves around four drugs: aspirin, Beta Blockers, statins and ACE-inhibitors. The program that Dr. Bernstein has developed and outlined in this book, calls for people with even the slightest beginnings of heart disease to talk to their doctors seriously about taking one or more of these important drugs, as well as making proper changes in diet and exercise and stress management. Early intervention is stressed, as it can make all the difference in the later years, when heart disease becomes a given for so many people.
What this book succeeds at is scaring the reader with hard science and clinical research into taking action TODAY to improve their odds when it comes to a healthy heart. But what I found a little distressing is that the book emphasizes pharmaceuticals that are expensive, especially for the millions of Americans who cannot afford health insurance to begin with. Although Dr. Bernstein makes his case quite strongly for the use of these drugs, I would have greatly preferred a program that focuses more on the things we can change such as food, weight, exercise and stress management, which are included in this plan but really only as a sidebar to the use of the drug treatments described.
This book will surely benefit, even save the lives of, many who can afford to take statins, Beta Blockers and ACE-inhibitors, and who are not allergic to aspirin. But for those struggling to choose between paying their electric bill and buying even more pharmaceuticals than they may already be taking for other ailments, this book may do very little to encourage more pro-active heart healthy behavior. If it comes down to having to change my diet, or take three prescribed drugs that will somehow have to come out of my already severely limited budget, I will have to choose the diet…and I believe most others would agree.