Lifestyle Medicine offers new hope for those with chronic illnesses


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — There is new hope for a healthier life if you have been living with a chronic illness.

The Highland Hospital Lifestyle Medicine program is helping some patients reverse the effects of chronic disease. Lifestyle Medicine Director Dr. Susan Friedman discussed the program and its potential benefits Tuesday during News 8 at Sunrise.

“Lifestyle Medicine is a new field of medicine that uses old ideas but really tries to address the root causes of chronic illness,” said Dr. Friedman. “We know that we are seeing this explosion of chronic illness in this country. People are getting chronic conditions earlier in life. They’re spending more of their life dealing with chronic disease and they’re actually dying sooner over the past few years so there’s been a decrease in longevity.”

Dr. Friedman explained that Lifestyle Medicine uses the pillars of lifestyle to try to address the root causes of chronic disease. “The American College of Lifestyle Medicine, which is a national organization, talks about six different pillars. This first is nutrition – so predominantly at whole food, plant-based diet – physical activity, avoiding risky substances, getting restful sleep, managing stress, and building social connectedness and social support. What we know from a lot of really excellent studies is that if we’re able to really optimize all of those things we could prevent about three-quarters of chronic disease in this country. The other piece of that is that it’s not just about prevention. It’s about treatment. I have patients who come into my office all of the time who have things like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and the list goes on and on. If they’re able to make substantial changes in those lifestyle pillars they can get remarkable improvements in their health.”

There are two ways patients can be introduced to Lifestyle Medicine – through inpatient intervention and in the outpatient setting. “If someone is unfortunate enough to need to be in the hospital, I see the patient to do those initial consults, to start to have the conversation about how these lifestyle pillars can impact their health. And then on the outpatient side of things, there’s a clinic – the Geriatrics and Medicine Associates – and people can call (585) 341-6775 to make an appointment.”

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