Heart Health, Prevention and Treatment
By Charles A Evans MD PhD
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women and accounts for 29% of US deaths (US center for Disease control and treatment (CDC)). Moreover, 37% of adults have 2 or more of the 6 risk factors for Heart Disease and Stroke. These include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, physical inactivity and smoking. According to the CDC, heart disease costs Americans over 400 Billion dollars for health care services, medications and lost productivity.
What is Heart Disease?
Heart Disease is refers to many types of heart conditions. The most common types are coronary heart disease which occurs when the coronary arteries build up with plaque. This reduces blood flow to the heart and can result in a heart attack. Other common conditions include angina, arrhythmia and peripheral artery disease.
Tests that can reveal your risk for heart disease:
We encourage all patients to come to us and have a complete risk assessment. In all patients that are at risk, we get baseline blood tests that are sent off to 3 different labs to get a “true” picture of your risk factors. I commonly refer to these as your “wellness panels”. They are very informational and covered by most insurance. More than 50% of patients who suffer a heart attack have normal cholesterol levels (as tested in our conventional labs). The new technologies and biochemical markers in our “wellness labs” help uncover hidden risks and enable us to develop a personalized treatment plan to achieve true health. The basic cholesterol panel is a good start in determining your risk of developing cardiovascular and related diseases. However, these should always be combined with advanced testing to unveil a more accurate picture of your true health. These advanced tests document your levels of “good” and “bad” cholesterol particle number, which has been shown to be a much more accurate indicator of your cardiovascular risk. These panels also provide markers of inflammation in your blood vessels. Inflammation accelerates plaque formation and leads to plaque rupture, ultimately leading to heart attack and stroke. We are now learning that having knowledge about the amount of inflammation in your blood vessels is much more important than know your cholesterol levels. We provide you with 8 markers of inflammation in your blood vessels in our panels. In addition the panels provide biomarkers that can lead to early detection of strain or damage to your heart muscle which can lead to more appropriate treatments for preventing congestive heat failure and heart attacks. Other information provided in the panels are Genetic tests that reveal increased risk for heart attacks and elevated cholesterol levels. Metabolic markers such as insulin levels, glucose, HbA1c, Vitamin D, vitamins B12 and 9, homocysteine, testosterone, thyroid panels, parathyroid hormone, leptin and cortisol level, iron, and your Omega-3 index all help in the early detection of pre-pre-diabetes, diabetes, Low testosterone, and cardiovascular disease.
When your results return, which usually takes 2 weeks (coming from Lufkin, Virginia, and California), we discuss your results in detail so that you have a clear understanding of your own individual physiology. These discussion typically last an hour or more. At the end of this discussion, your personalized treatment plan is outlined. In most cased “simple” lifestyle changes are suggested along with non-prescription supplements. For people in need of lifestyle changes we refer you to one of our lifestyle instructors for long term follow up. When needed, insurance pays for follow up labs every 3-4 months to follow your path to true health.
Other tests that may complement your wellness panels which are done in our office by competent staff include Exercise stress tests, Echocardiograms, EKG’s, ANSAR (a measure of how your autonomic nervous system is working), Computerized arterial pulse wave (provides measurements that enable your vascular age to be calculated), Endopat (used to determine the function of your endothelium which is the innermost lining of your arteries, Extremity studies which detects peripheral vascular disease, and a retinal scan to detect early atherosclerosis and damage to the eyes as a result of hypertension.
Depending on the outcome of the above testing, we will sit down with you and have a lengthy discussion on how to repair your body so that more serious diseases can be avoided, or existing disease can be better managed. We encourage everyone to have a healthy lifestyle which includes having a healthy weight, eating better, and exercise. I have found that repairing nutrition in tissues fixes most problems. Nutrition supplements are routinely suggested depending on the outcome of your tests. Some are referred to cardiologists, but most are able to assume control over their health with lifestyle changes and nutritional supplements.