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GO RED for heart month

Written by: Dr. Fred Harvey, MD

It’s February again and Valentine’s Day soon. All the hearts that we see this month are a great reminder that heart disease is still numero uno for killing humans. We spend time in October thinking pink for breast cancer. And although that is a good cause, TEN times more women die of heart disease than breast cancer. More women die of a first heart attack than men, because they don’t seek help. Many don't really think it is a serious women’s problem. We rarely hear much in the news about heart disease. So it seems to me that a very important 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 in this growing problem. Thus, they began the GO Red campaign to educate us about this issue.

There is a lot of new information regarding how we develop arterial disease. We know that cholesterol does not cause heart disease or heart attack, but that it is a biomarker for risk. That means that 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 cause the cracks in the vessel lining. Inflammation is the main driver of the problem, 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 and not the cause. We have many new tests available that can show where the inflammation is so that we can address the source of the inflammation to stop the progress of the disease. We look at things like homocysteine, myeloperoxidase, oxidized (rancid) LDL Cholesterol, and omega 3 balance.

In functional medicine, we have many novel tools to help us in our quest of healthy arteries. We customize diet and lifestyle changes in all 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 progress of coronary heart disease and prevents the need for bypass surgery in some cases. This is especially effective for diabetics.

Want to learn more for yourself or a loved one? Please join our discussion this month at Wild Ginger Apothecary in Gulf gate on Feb.15th, 6-7pm. Call the Harvey Center today for details and to reserve your seat at # 941-929-9355. Bring your questions, and bring a friend!

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