John Svinarich, MD, has had an incredible life in medicine and cardiology. He used to think the excitement of treating cardiac emergencies was the best part of the work. Now, he can accomplish something even more worthwhile because Functional Medicine has empowered him to help people heal their heart disease.
His early career was about professional success: electrical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, then medical school at Ohio State University. As a cardiologist in the US Army, he developed skills in interventional cardiology (angioplasty and stents) and cardiac electrophysiology (pacemakers, defibrillators, ablation, and arrhythmia treatments). He is board certified in Medicine, Cardiology, and Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology. He has studied medical science, published articles, and performed thousands of procedures. He is proud of these accomplishments, but the long hours and stress had taken their toll. There was also the increasing sense that patients need more than he could offer them in the conventional medical paradigm.
He was becoming aware that everything wasn’t right in the world of conventional medicine. People were helped tremendously by the lifesaving acute care provided, but chronic disease persisted and could eventually progress. Chronic disease was affecting more and more people. The business of healthcare expanded to both meet and encourage the demand for services. What evolved was mega-corporate sick care. There was little motivation to address chronic health issues because of economic disincentives and because the knowledge and tools available to be applied to the problem were incomplete and ineffective.
Then, he developed atrial fibrillation. This was the very condition he was an expert at treating with medications and procedures. After a fortuitous reading of The Disease Delusion by Jeffery Bland, PhD, he began to apply newer knowledge and tools to his own heath. The study of Functional Medicine with the Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM) and the Kresser Institute led to his certification in Functional Medicine by the IFM. He learned that food can be your medicine, and that diet and lifestyle are as important as pills and procedures. His atrial fibrillation has been successfully managed only with diet and lifestyle changes. This experience inspired his efforts to use the principles of Functional Medicine to heal chronic heart disease in his patients.
He now sees that his role as a cardiologist and a Functional Medicine doctor is to facilitate healing. He believes this requires him to be a wiser physician. Wisdom first requires humility. Recognizing that no one has all the answers fosters reliance on curiosity, open-mindedness, and collaboration to find better ways as a community to find healing solutions. A wise physician has empathy and compassion. Wisdom is also about teaching rather than telling. Wisdom certainly requires experience. Being an expert usually means experiencing something intensely, but usually from a single point of view. He has been fortunate to become an expert in dealing with heart disease from three perspectives: that of a cardiologist, that of a Functional Medicine doctor, and that of a patient. Combining what he has learned from each of these perspectives is valuable multidimensional expertise that has certainly made him wiser. Patients also bring their own intrinsic wisdom and together, they build a heart-healing relationship.
The fulfillment of his career has become collaborating with Chris Bantock, DC, and Beth Svinarich, FMCHC, NBC-HWC, to form Colorado Center for Functional Medicine. They help others to find and eliminate the root causes of heart disease to unlock the natural healing capacity of their bodies.