Go Red for Heart Month
by Dr. Fred Harvey, MD
It’s February again which means that Valentine’s Day will be here soon. All the hearts that we see this month are an important reminder that heart disease is still the number one cause of death for humans. We spend time in October “thinking pink” for breast cancer, and although that is a major cause, 10 times as many women die from heart disease than breast cancer.
In fact, more women die of a first heart attack than men, because they do not seek help. Many don't think it is a serious problem because we rarely hear much in the news about heart disease. So it seems to me that a critical health risk for women is being neglected. The American Heart Association is attempting to bring this women’s health concern to the forefront, so we can make an impact and address the problem. As a result, that organization started a “GO Red” campaign to educate the American public on this issue.
There is new information being uncovered on how we develop arterial disease. We know that cholesterol does not cause heart disease or even heart attacks, but that it is a biomarker for the risk. This means it is a reliable sign that we can test to see if a person might be at risk for a specific problem. Cholesterol rises in response to damage to the blood vessels. Cholesterol is like “spackle" for cracks in the lining of the artery. Inflammation causes these cracks in the vessel lining, and it is the main driver of the onset of heart-related concerns, but inflammation has many interconnected causes.
When a functional medicine doctor evaluates a patient for cardiac vascular disease, we look for the cause of the problem. We don't simply treat cholesterol numbers because that only treats the marker—not the cause. We have many new tests available that can show where the inflammation is, so we can address the source of inflammation to stop the progress of this disease. We look at factors such as homocysteine, myeloperoxidase, oxidized (rancid) LDL cholesterol, and omega-3 balance.
In functional medicine, we have many novel tools to help us in our quest for healthy arteries. We customize diet and lifestyle changes in all of our patients. We employ high-dose and high-quality nutritional supplements like pure fish oil. We also can use medications such as EDTA for chelation therapy. Chelation is a proven intravenous therapy that reduces the progress of coronary heart disease and prevents the need for bypass surgery in some cases. This is especially effective for diabetics.
If you want to learn more information, please join our discussion on the Harvey Center Facebook page or contact the Harvey Center to schedule your consultation with Dr. Fred Harvey. For more information and to make an appointment, call 941-929-9355.