A model of disease

 

We can think of how disease affects us by way of a flow diagram.  Here is the simple model of the “mechanistic medicine” view, using heart disease as an example:

organ
malfunction


eg weak heart2_organ.html

symptom


eg breathless2_symptom.html

disability



eg can’t walk far2_disabilty.html
reduced quality of life


eg, unable to work, house-bound2_QoL.html

Based on this view, the treatment must correct the organ malfunction to solve all the other problems.  The difficulty is that it often doesn’t work - either because the malfunction is not correctable (or not even known) or because the problems continue even when the cause has apparently been fixed.


The weakness of this model is in the meaning of the arrows: there is not a direct link from one to the other.  Instead, the way the organ and organ system (eg heart and circulation) and the control process (nervous system) and the mind (conscious and subconscious) react has a profound effect at each stage - sometimes this response has a greater effect than the apparent cause itself. 

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