By: Dr. Jason Barker, ND
February is National Heart Health Month
Heart disease kills roughly 610,000 Americans each year, comprising 1 of every 4 deaths!
It’s the leading cause of death in both men and women, as well.
The main risk factors include:
• Poor diet
• Physical inactivity
• Excess alcohol intake
However, you don’t necessarily have to have any of these risk factors and still have heart disease.
So what else can you do beyond eating well, exercising regularly, reducing alcohol intake and of course, not smoking? Well, your regular doctor will probably want to check your cholesterol levels. We’ve all been taught that besides lifestyle, cholesterol levels are the end-all, be-all of cardiovascular health. However, LOTS of people have “normal” cholesterol levels yet still suffer from heart disease.
Why is that? Essentially, there is lot more going on in your bloodstream that affects cardiovascular health beyond the basic cholesterol tests you’re used to getting. Heart disease is really a disease of inflammation; the blood vessels become inflamed and this is where the damage occurs. Newer thinking in cardiology posits that cholesterol is really an anti-inflammatory repair molecule. Thus, inflammation comes first, then cholesterol levels rise.
This is why the doctors at Natural Health Associates use much more detailed cardiovascular screening blood tests than what you’ll get elsewhere – we want to uncover the causes of inflammation that can be found in your bloodstream. Again, this involves more advanced testing than just looking at total cholesterol, HDL, LDL and triglycerides.
By using advanced testing methods, we’ll look at several different markers for blood sugar (yes, elevated blood sugar leads to heart disease), inflammatory molecules, and more detailed cholesterol molecule assessments. This is important because a person may have elevated cholesterol levels, yet we can discern whether the cholesterol they have is smaller and dense (more dangerous) or larger and less dense (much safer). Or, a person may have ‘safe’ levels of cholesterol yet have several elevated markers of inflammation – this isn’t good, and may predispose this person to having heart disease, despite their ‘normal’ cholesterol numbers.
We really encourage everyone to have this detailed cardiovascular testing – it’s important to take a more detailed look so you can truly understand your risk of heart disease, and take the appropriate action if needed.
If you have more questions, please give us a call and schedule a consultation with one of our doctors to understand more about the testing we offer!