What Is Precision Medicine, and Why Should Athletes Care About It?

What Is Precision Medicine, and Why Should Athletes Care About It?

Sponsored by our partner, Wild Health

One-size-fits-all might be a good approach for buying new sunglasses, but when it comes to healthcare, personalization is becoming increasingly popular. Instead of generic advice and rushed doctor’s appointments, people — athletes especially — prefer to lean on customized healthcare plans that are based more on their specific lifestyle, genetics, and medical history.

The solution is called precision medicine, and if you haven’t heard of it yet, you will. Here’s what precision medicine means, how it’s related to genomics, and why it could become the future of healthcare.

What Is Precision Medicine?

Precision medicine, sometimes referred to as personalized medicine, is a new approach to healthcare that recognizes the differences among individuals — from genetics to lifestyle, blood testing, environment, and medical history — and takes that information into account when treating the patient.

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Because it’s focused on the individual, precision medicine allows doctors to predict risk factors for disease much more accurately. It’s also a helpful perspective when weighing prevention or treatment options. For example, a 32-year-old woman with no family history of heart disease and an avid training calendar has a much different risk profile for cardiac arrest than a 67-year-old man who has high blood pressure and sits around on the couch all day. Instead of prescribing treatments or prevention strategies based on a hypothetical “average” person, precision medicine tailors healthcare plans on a case-by-case basis.

How Are Genomics Relevant?

Let’s back up a little bit first. Remember learning about DNA in sixth-grade science? DNA is the chemical compound that makes up a living organism, and it consists of two twisting, paired strands, also known as the double helix.

Your complete set of DNA is called your genome, which you can think of as your own personal user’s manual. It contains all of the information about how you operate, what diseases you’re born with, what genetic mutations you have, and so much more.

Related: 6 Ways Infrared Sauna Use Optimizes Health, Training, and Recovery

Accordingly, genomics is the study of all of a person’s genes, including how those genes interact with each other and with the person's environment. Within precision medicine, genomics is one of the many variables that doctors take into account when mapping out your optimal healthcare plan.

Why Should Spartans Care?

Precision medicine can be seen as a solution to an old approach to healthcare, where the focus is on disease treatment and generalized advice. (Because let's be honest, Spartans certainly aren't average on the health spectrum.) 

Most people are tired of slapping BandAids on major health issues, or waiting until an injury or major problem pops up to see their doctor. Personalized medicine takes a prevention-first approach, so you're prepared in the event that you do face an injury or get sick. Through comprehensive testing and in-depth questionnaires, doctors are able to focus on the root causes of disease, rather than simply treating symptoms.

And as a Spartan, you've probably realized that what works for the general, sedentary American population health-wise doesn’t (and shouldn’t) work for them. These days, you can order custom mattresses by taking a quiz online or buy a pair of shoes using 3D fitting. That's how this works.

Related: 5 Ways You Can Improve Your Health Right Now

Using things like bloodwork, genetic biomarkers, and even wearable data (which most athletes already wear), precision medicine makes personalized diet, sleep, and exercise recommendations possible. Wild Health — Spartan's official healthcare partner — does just that, providing you with an in-depth health report grounded in precision medicine. Plus, your personal healthcare team (including a physician and a health coach) will give you customized recommendations and follow up to make sure that they work for you.

With information specific to your body, you’re able to set health goals based on how you envision your life. Want to make sure you stay injury-free this season? Need an expert opinion on a nutrition and recovery plan that will help you reach your full potential out on the course? Wild Health has you covered.

To learn more, visit wildhealth.com.

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