“All strokes and heart attacks are potentially preventable,” explain cardiovascular specialists Bradley Bale, MD and Amy Doneen, ARNP. The key, they say, lies in achieving optimal medical care, which includes correctly identifying and treating the root causes of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Bale and Doneen, founders of the Heart Attack & Stroke Prevention Center, have devised a new model for detecting and preventing CVD, the leading killer of men and women in this country.
In their new book, BEAT THE HEART ATTACK GENE: The Revolutionary Plan to Prevent Heart Disease, Stroke, and Diabetes (Wiley General Trade, an imprint of Turner Publishing Group; February 2014), they share their proven, scientifically designed method, empowering people to take charge of their medical destiny and overcome cardiovascular perils.
“Most doctors are not disease detectives,” write Bale and Doneen. “They’re trained to look for symptoms of active disorders.” As a result, many healthcare providers fail to delve deeply into a patient’s family history to search for genetic risks that could lead to future illnesses. They also screen and treat patients according to the average results from large studies, delivering one-size-fits-all care instead of tests and therapies tailored to their patients’ individual needs.
In BEAT THE HEART ATTACK GENE, Bale and Doneen provide readers with tools to partner with their doctors in creating a personal care plan based on their own unique risk factors. This involves taking advantage of widely available, inexpensive tests that can reliably identify the early signs of cardiovascular disease up to thirty years before it escalates into a silent killer. It also includes tailoring lifestyle changes – including diet, exercise, and supplements – to one’s unique specific conditions and genetic make-up.
Illustrated by examples from the authors’ own patients – many of whom had symptoms that were dismissed by prior doctors, or had already undergone bypass surgery and felt they were out of options – Bale and Doneen explain what really causes heart disease, debunking many myths and misconceptions. For example, contrary to popular understanding, most heart attacks don’t strike in severely blocked arteries – the ones that surgeons target for bypasses and stents. Instead, what is critical is inflammation of the arterial walls. This inflammation can destabilize plaque, causing it to rupture and tear the blood vessel lining, creating a clot. Therefore, unlike the current standard of care – which is largely concerned with blockages – the Bale/Doneen Method focuses on detecting plaque and inflammation.
In arming people to take charge of their cardiovascular health, the authors share:
•Red flags that signal increased risk for heart attack and stroke. These warning signs include: family history, periodontal disease, migraine headaches, lack of sleep, depression and anxiety, sleep apnea, and vitamin D deficiency. The authors also advise people to measure their waists, pointing out that waist circumference is a better predictor of heart attack and stroke risk than weight or body mass index (BMI).
•The screening tests that can literally be life-savers. “There is no one specific test that provides a complete evaluation of your cardiovascular health,” the authors write. They discuss the pros and cons of a variety of ultrasound scans for detecting plaque and blockages. They also cover a range of other diagnostic tools, including a “Fire Panel” of blood and urine tests they recommend for identifying arterial wall inflammation, and reveal the danger of relying on “stress tests” to gauge the presence of CVD.
•What you need to know about cholesterol. Bale and Doneen warn that most healthcare providers fail to check patients for a common inherited cholesterol problem that has been shown, unequivocally, to cause heart attacks. They urge readers to be tested for lipoprotein(a), and debunk an array of cholesterol myths – such as that HDL cholesterol is always “good,” and that you’re protected against stroke if your cholesterol is low.
•The true culprit in most cases of CVD: insulin resistance. “Medical providers aren’t doing an adequate job of screening for insulin resistance, even though it affects about 150 million Americans, putting them at risk for both type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease,” write the authors. They detail the link between insulin resistance and CVD, explain why blood sugar tests are insufficient – and wrong – and recommend the use of oral glucose tolerance tests instead.
•Decoding your DNA. More than 50 percent of Americans carry one or more gene variants that dramatically increase risk for heart attacks and strokes. The authors discuss the genes you should be tested for, and why this is critical for taking charge of your health. “Cardiovascular events are not inevitable, even for people with high-risk genes,” they say.
•Achieving an optimal lifestyle. Achieving a heart-healthy lifestyle that’s personalized according to your genes, medical conditions, and health risks is the most powerful weapon in your treatment and prevention arsenal, say the authors. And it can be a lot simpler and more pleasurable than you might imagine. They discuss developing an eating plan that is guided by your genes, offer science-backed weight-loss strategies, and suggest easy lifestyle changes that do your heart good – including nibbling on dark chocolate, avoiding sugary drinks, and getting flu shots.
“It’s never too late to optimize your care, solve the mystery of why you’re not responding to your current treatment, and even save your life,” assert Bale and Doneen, who have taught their method to hundreds of healthcare providers from all over the world. BEAT THE HEART ATTACK GENE equips readers with the information they need to take control of their heart health, no matter what their symptoms – or lack thereof.