A brief review of Dr. Peter Attia’s new book Outlive: The Science & Art of Longevity1
Among all the inconvenient, unsavory, and even startling truths exposed during the pandemic perhaps none was more concerning for us as a society than the confirmation of the patently abysmal state of our health. The prevalence of diseases related to lifestyle behaviors and other underlying conditions set the stage for an extensive and devastating effect on public health following the arrival of COVID-19. In its wake, U.S. life expectancy—already on the decline—plunged to its lowest levels since 1996 and ranked lowest overall among large, wealthy countries despite spending nearly double on health on a per person basis.2
In his new book, Outlive: The Science & Art of Longevity, Dr. Peter Attia offers a chronology of the practice of medicine with a view to how certain fundamental changes in practice, behavior, and outlook offer us the possibility to change course and the promise of living longer, healthier lives. A former surgical oncologist trained at Stanford University and Johns Hopkins Hospital, Dr. Attia is the host of The Drive, a popular healthcare podcast, and the founder of Early Medical, an organization committed to helping people ‘lengthen lifespan and improve healthspan.’ A runaway bestseller since its release in March, Outlive propounds many of the same concepts that have been fundamental to SHIFT’s approach to providing data-driven, relationship-based, proactive care, as many of our Members who have picked up the book recently noted.
In specific, Outlive dives into healthy aging strategies and prolonging vitality by preventing heart disease, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, and type 2 diabetes, which he calls the “four horsemen of chronic disease.”
Attia’s work is packed with studies, data, and recommendations about health topics such as exercise, nutrition, sleep, and emotional health, that point to his major concept: Medicine 3.0. Unlike Medicine 2.0 (read: current healthcare), which focuses on treatment, Medicine 3.0 is healthcare delivery reimagined, where we take a deeper look at the underlying causes of disease and death and not merely the treatment of symptoms.
According to Attia, Medicine 3.0:
- Places a far greater emphasis on prevention than treatment
- Considers the patient as a unique individual
- Starts with an honest assessment and acceptance of risk (including that of inaction)
- Pays far more attention to healthspan, or quality of life
Unfortunately, Medicine 3.0 doesn’t fit, or at least not yet, into the business model of our existing healthcare system. Nearly all current healthcare spending is on treatment and symptom management, which is itself a symptom of the expectation in many healthcare systems that doctors churn through visits to hit daily quotas. And while treatment is important, Attia argues that a more personalized and proactive approach to our health, including advanced screening and data analysis, will allow us to predict and work to prevent these diseases before they occur or, at the very least, before they become terminal.
Attia’s book is dense with science and data but also includes anecdotal stories about his experiences practicing medicine, making it a digestible, relatable read for the layperson. As mentioned earlier, Attia’s conclusions and suggestions largely align with the principles upon which SHIFT is built, and we are excited to see this conversation grow. Emphasizing that there’s a personal investment required to live a long and healthy life, his book makes a valuable contribution to the important discussions we must continue to have about taking action on our health.
The basic premise of Outlive is indisputable—using advanced data as a guide, we as providers must work with patients on a deep and personal level to help them build the habits required to live optimally for as long as possible.
- Outlive: The Science & Art of Longevity – New Book by Peter Attia (peterattiamd.com)
- The Drive podcast hosted by Peter Attia
In Real Health,
The SHIFT Team
- Attia, P. Outlive: The Science & Art of Longevity. Harmony Books, 2023. https://peterattiamd.com/outlive/
- Rakshit, S., McGough, M. How does U.S. life expectancy compare to other countries? Peterson-KFF: Health System Tracker. Published December 6, 2022. https://www.healthsystemtracker.org/chart-collection/u-s-life-expectancy-compare-countries/#Life%20expectancy%20at%20birth%20in%20years,%201980-2021