RRH introduces lifestyle medicine specialty

Rochester Regional Health is leading a new shift in American health care: integrating lifestyle medicine into the primary care/family medicine setting.

Lifestyle medicine is a new health care specialty that focuses on improving diet, physical activity, sleep habits and stress management while reducing harmful habits such as smoking, excessive alcohol use and recreational drugs.

It can help patients prevent, reverse or even cure chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease.

Kerry Graff, a longtime primary care or family medicine physician, recently joined Rochester Regional Health for the opportunity to better-combine primary care with lifestyle medicine. She is one of the first 500 board-certified lifestyle medicine providers in the world.

Graff is working with other RRH primary care providers to help them adopt this new, innovative approach for patients who want the education and support necessary to improve their lifestyle.

“We are trying to create a total shift in how primary care operates,” Graff explained. “When patients start adopting lifestyle medicine principles, they start treating the cause of their chronic disease. In many cases they lower, or even eliminate, their reliance on drugs that are only meant to manage chronic conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.”

While not all chronic and non-communicable diseases can be prevented, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention estimate that approximately 80 percent of health problems in the U.S. are caused by three lifestyle patterns: the standard American diet, a sedentary lifestyle and smoking.