Physician Profile: Harvey Zarren, M.D.
Dr. Zarren practiced medicine and cardiology for 33 years, improving the quality of life for patients with cardiovascular disease, which takes the lives of almost 1 million Americans each year. Having left clinical practice, Dr. Zarren’s attention is now focused on teaching people—particularly young people in the Massachusetts school system—how to prevent cardiovascular disease. He is working to help future generations avoid the health problems faced by most of his previous patients.
“I realized that patients having coronary bypass surgery were coming back again and again, suffering the effects of an unhealthy lifestyle,” he says. “I was encouraged by the research of Dean Ornish, M.D., who demonstrated in the early 1990s how proper nutrition, exercise, and other lifestyle changes could prevent and reverse heart disease. Most cardiovascular disease is caused by atherosclerosis, which damages and blocks arteries, and much of it is preventable with diet and lifestyle changes. The earlier in life we practice prevention, the more effective it can be.”
Changing habits can be a challenge, especially in high-consuming countries, but Dr. Zarren states it plainly: “The way we practice health care in America is simply too expensive to continue. If government and commercial nutrition standards were improved, the health care savings would be enormous. Change, however, is occurring slowly, and even medical education still neglects preventive medical practice and the importance of proper nutrition and lifestyle choices.”
In addition to his work in schools, Dr. Zarren is involved in wellness programs for both patients and caregivers at the North Shore Medical Center in Lynn and Salem, Massachusetts, and is writing a book on preventing and treating atherosclerosis. He recommends the Food Studies Institute (www.foodstudies.org) for teachers and parents interested in improving school nutrition, and he can be reached at the Connected Healing Institute at firstname.lastname@example.org.