I started this book Saturday with apprehension because of the subject matter. As I have read approximately 25% of the book, I must say the author does a tremendous job in sizing up American medicine. On the back cover of the book, Malcolm Gladwell sums it up very well.
“American medicine, Being Mortal reminds us, has prepared itself for life but not for death. This is Atul Gawande’s most powerful-and-moving book.”
Some really interesting paragraphs from the book, I wanted to share with our readers that I was unaware of:
From page 32:
“The idea that living things shut down instead of wearing down has received substantial support in recent years. Researchers working with the now famous worm C. elegans (twice in one decade, Nobel Prizes went to scientists doing work on the little nematode) were able, by altering a single gene, to produce worms that live more than twice as long and age more slowly. Scientists have since come up with single-gene alterations that increase the life spans of fruit, mice and yeast.”
From page 33 on inheritance:
“It turns out that inheritance has surprisingly little influence on longevity. James Vaupel, of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, in Rostock, Germany, notes that only 3 percent of how long you’ll live, compared with the average, is explained by your parents’ longevity; by contrast, up to 90 percent of how tall you are is explained by your parents’ height. Even genetically identical twins vary widely in life span; the typical gap is more than fifteen years.”
That information was astounding to me!!!
From page 41:
“The job of any doctor, Bludau (the chief geriatrician at the Center for Older Adult Health at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA) later told me (Atul Gawande), is to support quality of life, by which he meant two things: as much freedom from the ravages of disease as possible and the retention of enough function for active engagement in the world. Most doctors treat disease and figure that the rest will take care of itself. And if it doesn’t—if a patient is becoming infirm and heading toward a nursing home—well, that isn’t really a medical problem, is it?”
And finally from page 44:
“Several years ago, researchers at the University of Minnesota identified 568 men and women over the age of seventy who were living independently but were at high risk of becoming disabled because of chronic health problems, recent illness, or cognitive changes. With their permission, the researchers randomly assigned half of them to see a team of geriatric nurses and doctors—a team dedicated to the art and science of managing old age. The others were asked to see their usual physician, who was notified of their high-risk status. Within eighteen months, 10 percent of the patients in both groups had died. But the patients who had seen a geriatrics team were a quarter less likely to become disabled and half as likely to develop depression. They were 40 percent less likely to require home health services.”
I urge each of our readers to rush out and purchase a copy of this since it affects each and every one of us in some way. Here is a video from the author about the book: