Men's Heart Health
Heart disease remains the number one killer of men in the United States across nearly all ethnic groups. Alarmingly, half of the men who die from heart disease which is also known as coronary artery disease (CAD) have no prior symptoms. Many who suffer also have normal cholesterol levels. The bottom line is that you may be at risk for CAD and not even know it. Heart health is something that we take very seriously at NaturoMedica. It is important that every man is screened for cardiac risk.
Known risk factors for heart disease include:
- High blood pressure
- High LDL cholesterol
Other medical conditions and lifestyle choices that put men at higher risk for heart disease are:
- Being overweight or obese
- Poor diet
- Physical inactivity
- Excessive alcohol intake
- Genetics/family history of heart disease
About half of men in the population will have at least one of the risk factors outlined above. More than 50% of men have cardiovascular risk factors that are NOT detected by standard blood testing. At NaturoMedica, in addition to standard lab testing, we offer state of the art advanced blood testing that helps determine if you are showing early signs of atherosclerotic coronary artery disease (building up plaque on the artery walls) progressing toward diabetes or in a chronic inflammatory state. The advanced testing for risk of heart disease generally consists of four different components which can be ordered separately or in a “bundle.” These tests are covered by most health insurances, requiring only a nominal co-pay. The blood test components are:
The two most common genetic tests that we run to evaluate risk for CAD are APOE and MTHFR. APOE is a genetic test that helps determine if you are at risk for early onset heart disease. MTHFR testing looks for two relatively common mutations that are associated with higher levels of homocysteine and poor folate/B vitamin synthesis which is associated with a higher risk for CAD and thrombosis. The results of these genetic tests can help determine what diet and lifestyle changes, dietary supplements and maybe even medications may be helpful for minimizing your risk.
This blood panel tests for several markers in the blood that measure your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes in your lifetime. Type 2 Diabetes is strongly correlated with risk for heart disease and stroke. Fortunately, Type 2 Diabetes is largely preventable, especially when risk factors are caught early. It also included markers for metabolism such as leptin, insulin and adiponectin that regulate the body’s fat metabolism and blood sugar.
In addition to the usual cholesterol markers like Total Cholesterol, LDL, HDL and Triglycerides, we do advance lipoprotein testing which further stratifies your cardiac risk. These tests look at the size and weight of your lipoproteins which can be a more accurate predictor of heart disease risk than just looking at the typical cholesterol markers. Those with small lipoproteins such as sdLDL or Lp(a) are at great risk of plaque formation in the arteries and cardiovascular disease.
This test measures for sophisticated vascular inflammation markers that are associated with heart disease. Inflammation is at the root of many health conditions. If inflammation is identified, an anti-inflammatory diet and other nutritional strategies to lower inflammation can be implemented.
This test looks at a number of nutrient markers including the Omega 3 index which is associated with heart disease risk.
We think that nearly all our patients can benefit from this type of blood testing, but it is especially appropriate for those who:
- Have a family history of cardiovascular disease or diabetes type 2
- Have been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, diabetes type 2 or pre-diabetes
- Are already on cholesterol-lowering medications like statins
- Have been diagnosed with hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Have been diagnosed with Metabolic Syndrome
- Are overweight
- Have high LDL (“bad” cholesterol)
- Have low HDL (“good” cholesterol)
- Have elevated triglycerides
In addition to blood testing, an imaging study that we frequently recommend to further evaluate risk for CAD is a coronary calcium scan. A coronary calcium scan uses computed tomography (CT) to check for the buildup of plaque on the walls of the coronary arteries. This test can be used preventatively to see if plaque is starting to accumulate and can also help determine the severity of heart disease. This is an ideal test because it often picks up early stage heart disease prior to what it may be picked up in more traditional heart test like a stress echocardiogram (aka “treadmill” test).
Like many diseases, the key to heart disease is prevention. Identifying your risk factors and doing a full cardiovascular work up may even save your life!