DUBAI // Early detection saved David Baratta from a heart attack.
When the air-traffic controller went for his physical, doctors told him that he had elevated triglycerides and suggested he see a cardiologist. But the cardiologist said there was nothing to worry about.
"I thought to myself, 'fine I'm not dying today. Now would be a good time to get a baseline and find out where I'm at'," said Mr Baratta, 52.
That is when he decided to sign up for the age-management programme at the Eternity Medicine Institute.
After a scan, doctors discovered calcification in his arteries - an indication of early-onset heart disease.
"It was really a wake-up call," he said. "I thought I was beyond this, that it didn't apply to me."
Mr Baratta, who also discovered he had high blood pressure, said he was dissatisfied with the approach of standard medicine.
"The doctor put me on drugs and I didn't like the thought of taking a pill for the rest of my life," he said. "There's this concept of 'You've got cholesterol, let's give you statins'. They give them out like candy."
But doctors at Eternity said they would first try natural supplements and changes to his lifestyle.
Although Mr Baratta had to dip into his savings to pay for the screening, he said it was worth the investment. "When you've got high blood pressure and your arteries are closing, you can get a heart attack and you may not survive it," he said.
What keeps him motivated is the immediate feedback he has received from doctors and the ability to easily observe his progress.
"When I'm following the nutrition, doing the exercise, the numbers just drop dramatically," he said.
"When I eat some crappy food, it changes to just the opposite.
"There's direct feedback and that is what helps you modify your behaviour, because you can see that it's working.
Mr Baratta dropped seven kilograms in the first three months and could see a difference in his energy.
"I shelled out the money so I really took it seriously," he said.
The only thing lacking is the health insurance to make personalised health care more accessible, Mr Baratta said.
"It absolutely defies logic to me that insurance companies will not pay for me to go in and have an ultrasound to see if I've got heart disease," he said.
"Yet if I did and needed the bypass, they'd pay for the operation.
"But when the doctor says you don't have it yet, they'll say 'OK, cool. Come back later and we'll pay for it then', as opposed to what they could do to prevent it."