Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States today — causing as many as one in four of all deaths. And this applies equally to every group, whether on the basis of ethnicity, gender or walk of life.
Ironically, or perhaps fortunately, many of the underlying causes of heart disease can be avoided with intervention and treatment. In other words, we know how to solve this problem.
Prevalence of heart disease
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is responsible for about 610,000 deaths in the United States every year. That’s one in every four deaths.
According to the American Heart Association, nearly half of the population of the United States has some kind of cardio-vascular disease. The most common type is coronary heart disease, which is caused by the buildup of plaque on the walls of the arteries that supply blood to the heart. This narrows the arteries, reducing the flow of blood and ultimately can lead to a heart attack.
Every year, 735,000 Americans have a heart attack. About a third of these are second or subsequent heart attacks — they happen to people who have already had a heart attack.
Risk factors for heart disease
The key risk factors linked to heart disease are high blood pressure or hypertension, high LDL cholesterol, and smoking. However, the latest data shows that 60 percent of people who have a heart attack have normal levels of cholesterol in their blood. This means that standard cholesterol tests are not useful for predicting who is at risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Other factors that increase the risk of developing heart disease include:
- overweight and obesity
- poor diet
- lack of exercise or physical activity
- excessive alcohol use.
Heart attack and stroke prevention
At Proactive Wellness Centers, we have developed programs targeting cardiovascular disease.
Advanced Cardiac Evaluation (ACE) begins with advanced testing using True Health Lab’s (TH) advanced testing. This has been proven to provide better information in identifying the presence of cardiovascular disease.
Advanced carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT) imaging combined with emerging, scientifically validated biomarkers, uses simple blood tests to identify cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease formations that can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
CIMT is a non-invasive diagnostic tool that uses ultrasound imaging to measure the intima-media, the innermost two layers of the wall of an artery. We use it to measure the thickness of the carotid artery, the big artery in the neck that carries blood to the head. This test allows us to quickly find the presence of atherosclerosis, the narrowing of the artery due to plaque build-up. It’s a major predictor of heart disease and heart attack.
Next, the HeartSmartIMTplus test evaluates the characteristics of plaque build-up. Softer plaque is more likely to break off, which can lead to a blockage and heart attack or stroke.
Once we have identified the presence of risk factors for cardiovascular disease, we can move on to the Advanced Cardiac Treatment (ACT) program to prevent, mitigate and reverse the progress of the disease.
There are steps we can all take to help prevent the onset of heart disease.
- Know your risk factors: get the tests to measure inflammation, plaque and other risk factors, as well as your family history of heart disease.
- CIMT: the non-invasive tests that detects the presence of plaque build-up in your arteries, and determine its characteristics as described above.
- Eat a healthy diet high in fresh vegetables and fruits, reduced in sodium and moderate in total caloric content.
- Exercise regularly: at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity every week. This does not have to be extreme. Just 25 minutes of walking each day can be enough.
- Get enough sleep: Recent research has found a link between insufficient sleep and higher risk of heart disease. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society recommend at least seven and a half hours of sleep per night for adults, and more for children and adolescents.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Overweight and obesity are major risk factors for developing heart disease. The previous two steps, a healthy diet and regular exercise, are the two most important components of life-long weight control. Research also finds a link between insufficient sleep and excess weight.
- Get the right vitamin supplements, particularly COQ10. This is an enzyme crucial to energy creation at the cellular level, especially in cardiac or heart tissues. We recommend at least 200 mg daily, and up to 400 mg for patients at higher risk of heart disease.
- Work with your preventative medicine specialist for controlling other risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, genetic factors and other risks.
Find your cholesterol profile
Don’t put your health off any longer. You can get your full cardiac risk profile with an Advanced Cardiac Evaluation — just call us at 703-822-5003, or use our online contact form to set up your appointment.
Or, if you know your status and just want your CIMT score, you can schedule just a CIMT scan and a 30-minute follow-up visit.
Be proactive — take charge of your health today.