Some thoughts from the latest conference in Rancho Palos Verdes on functional medicine and the SphygmoCor for vascular age.

Why do some doctors take the long road towards specializing in functional medicine, requiring huge investment in upskilling?

One well known functional doctor in the US shared that she was diagnosed with breast cancer at 25 and Crohns at 26.  Somewhere on the road back to the rude health she now enjoys, she crossed the Rubicon where she no longer believed “it doesn’t matter what you eat”.

Another MD discussed his moment, where 48 out of the first 50 heart transplants he undertook were due to lifestyle reasons.

Yet another MD described how 70% of the population in his state of Tennessee are now classified as clinically obese and the figure is 90% in Mississippi.

Functional medicine is a toolkit that many doctors working chronic conditions find they are unable to ignore.

What precision and personalized medicine is adding to the functional medicine puzzle is objective measurement to identify where best to apply the functional toolkit.

For measuring overall health data at home, the clinic has invested in working with wearable devices measuring HRV on the finger.

At the conference, Cindy came across a clinical device for measuring real-time vascular health. 40 years ago when Rose first remembers using Stress ECG measurement, we drove Hillman Hunters and the party phone had a rotary dial.  Cars and phones are a bit different now and it turns out there are better tools for measuring vascular health too.  The clinic just bought a  The SphygmoCor measured my vascular age as 32, which is pretty good for a 53 year old and a pleasing confirmation that a personalized medicine approach is helping me achieve my goals.  Vascular age is important in a variety of ways.  According to the American Heart Association, cardiac disease remains the number one cause of death worldwide so healthy vascular function is useful.  Vascular health is also important because brain function is only as good as the blood the brain receives.

Having a new solution to immediately and accurately measure vascular results during a consult with Cindy opens up opportunity for clients, particularly those looking for a health assessment more than an extended program of diagnosis and treatment. We’re not yet able to get pathology lab results within 12 minutes in Nelson like they can in the US and accessing advanced treatments can be frustratingly expensive in NZ versus the cost in the US. Nonetheless the latest clinical investment in technology brings unique new capability for clients in Nelson NZ wanting to make informed choices about their health.

For anyone wondering why the clinic is looking to the US and for advanced diagnosis and treatment in the area of healthy lifespan, it’s because the techniques and technology are years (or in the case of Stress ECG decades) ahead. The A4m fellowship Cindy is undertaking is only available to MDs, but it’s neither mainstream nor alternative; it’s an approach combining the best parts of both for those acknowledging lifestyle conditions.

PS. I also tried a Cryo-Sauna for the first time during a business meeting at It was fun to try (Thanks Martin!) and the breathing techniques used with cold showers in the morning came in very handy, but unfortunately due to concurrent travel, I wasn’t able to isolate objective data on HRV improvements.