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Heart Health & Diagnostic Testing

Heart Health & Diagnostic Testing

Standard testing does not protect you against heart disease. Why should we be concerned about conventional testing and about our heart? How can we protect ourselves?


Feel free to share this information with your family and friends to scare them and perhaps save their lives.

Heart Facts: Cardiovascular disease, or CVD, kills more than 16 million people worldwide each year and accounts for 30% of the total number of deaths. In the U.S., where more than 61 million people live with CVD, one American dies of CVD every 33 seconds – and more than half of those who die suddenly of CVD had no previous symptoms.

Heart disease and stroke, the main components of cardiovascular disease, account for nearly 40% of all deaths in the nation.

ABC News: Dec. 29, 2006. “It should come as no surprise that nearly every one of us knows someone who died of heart disease; it remains the No. 1 killer in the United States, according to a year-end update on heart disease and stroke statistics from the American Heart Association. In fact, cardiovascular disease accounted for more than one-third of all deaths in the United States in 2004, according to the update. Further, stroke is the no. 3 killer after heart disease and cancer. The update found about 700,000 people experience new or recurrent strokes each year.”

Women. Your heart & menopause. The risk of heart attacks and strokes increases in women after menopause. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in 10 women between the ages of 45 and 64 has some form of cardiovascular disease (CVD); by age 65, however, the rate is one in every four. As hormonal levels decline with the onset of menopause, women’s heart and arteries are inexorably affected. “Estrogen helps keep the arteries free from the buildup of fatty substances, cholesterol, cellular waste, and other contaminants.” It is known that estrogen keeps arteries supple. See the UPCOMING Newsletter to learn more about how bio identical hormones can protect your heart.

Many women simply don’t recognize the warning signs of coronary heart disease until such time as their health is already deteriorating. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), more than half a million (500,000) women die of heart disease each year. Since 1984, heart disease has claimed the lives of more women than men, making it the #1 KILLER OF AMERICAN WOMEN. While men do have more heart attacks than women, women are less likely to survive, and more likely to have a second attack.

Women (and men) with high blood pressure also have an elevated risk for heart disease because hypertension hardens the arteries, which forces the heart to work harder. Roughly one third of people with hypertension do not know that they have high blood pressure.

It’s common to think breast cancer is the No. 1 threat to women’s health when, in fact, heart disease is responsible for more deaths in women than all forms of cancer combined. Heart disease is the most significant health concern for women in the United States today.

The common belief that heart disease affects mostly men is a dangerous myth. In reality, more women than men die of heart disease in the United States each year. But according to the American Heart Association, only 13 percent of women know that heart disease is a major threat to their health.

Men & Declining Testosterone. Studies have shown that adequate levels of testosterone are important for maintaining cardiac health and preventing age-related senility. Reports from the oft-cited Rotterdam Study, where researchers examined the association between testosterone levels and cardiac health in 504 men aged 67-to-75, showed that men with higher levels of testosterone had lower levels of coronary artery disease. As the authors of the study stated, “we found an independent, inverse association between levels of endogenous testosterone and severe aortic atherosclerosis and progression of aortic atherosclerosis in men.” MANY studies show that testosterone also helps protect the hearts of women.

Standard testing does not protect you against heart disease.

Limitations of Standard Lipid Testing. “For years, providers have relied on the standard lipid panel—including total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and triglycerides—to assess their patients’ cardiovascular disease risk. It is increasingly apparent that this approach fails to detect many individuals at risk for heart disease.”

This focus on standard lipid testing causes individuals and providers to neglect all the other causes of heart disease, some of which are more important than cholesterol. “Can you have a heart attack if you have low cholesterol? You sure can. Can you survive to the age of 95, outlive all your neighbors, and never have a heart attack despite high cholesterol? Absolutely. Can you suffer a debilitating or fatal heart attack with “normal” cholesterol? It happens every day—1,152 times a day nationwide, to be exact, according to a 2004 report by the American Heart Association.”

By way of example, former President Clinton had received frequent assurances from his providers that he was in “good health.” He had passed an annual thallium stress test for the preceding five years. His cholesterol was reported in the press as excellent at 179 mg/dl, and providers monitored his cholesterol values frequently. Mr. Clinton jogged and complained of no symptoms with vigorous exercise. Yet, shortly after the release of his autobiography, he developed unstable symptoms that warned of impending heart attack. Extensive blockages of all three coronary arteries (greater than 90%) were diagnosed through heart catheterization and Mr. Clinton underwent a quadruple coronary bypass operation. He had a massive heart attack and heart surgery.

Many patients are told that they are in a low risk group due to their “normal’ cholesterol levels. They either died shortly thereafter from heart attacks or were “saved” on the operating table after suffering a heart attack.

Patients have died from heart attacks despite having an LDL level of 95 mg/dL. Is this unusual? The average LDL level in heart attack survivors is 140 mg/dL. Compare this to the average LDL for all Americans, which is 134 mg/dL. These values are so close; it is no wonder that predicting heart attack risk based on LDL values is an imprecise science at best.

This does not mean that you can ignore cholesterol. Several large studies have demonstrated that cholesterol levels are related statistically to the risk of heart disease. The higher your cholesterol levels (total and LDL), the greater the likelihood of heart disease. The Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial, or MR FIT, showed that the likelihood of heart attack in the people with cholesterol levels in the highest 20% was three times that of people whose levels were in the lowest 20%. The well-known Framingham trial also illustrated this phenomenon.

In both studies, however, a significant number of heart attacks still occurred in people with low or “normal” cholesterol values. In the Framingham study, four of five people fell into a large middle range of cholesterol levels, whether or not they developed heart disease. Those with extremely low total cholesterol (less than 150 mg/dL) had low (though not zero) risk for heart attack; those with extremely high cholesterol (greater than 300 mg/dL) had high risk for heart attack (threefold higher). But the great majority of people fell in between these extremes, and the greatest number of heart attacks developed in people with cholesterol levels in this middle range.

NBH, Clinic Director of Natural Bio Health, an Austin hormone clinic

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