It’s the “This can’t happen to me” scenario. Typical scenario-you are under 50 and exercise, eat right (when you think about it), and try to manage your stress, so “how can I possibly have a heart attack?” The shocking fact is that you can possibly have a heart attack and the warning signs are there, but they may be being missed.
The signs of cardiovascular disease can be seen decades ahead
The fact is that the very early signs of cardiovascular disease, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke, are detectable. Very detectable if you know how and where to look. The science and practice of preventive cardiology is designed to discover, assess, and prevent the condition from getting any worse, and in many cases, reverse the damage. Conventional cardiologists in the NYC-Tri State area often lack the sophisticated state-of-the-art tests that practices such as Preventive Cardiology of New York are able to utilize to identify cardiovascular risk and disease often as much as 10-20 years ahead of a clinical event.
The importance of acting before you have symptoms
The reasons that patients are drawn to preventative cardiology are many. Perhaps their parents or a close relative had heart disease, or perhaps they have experienced the shock of having a colleague or family member pass away or suffer from a heart attack or stroke. Whatever the reason, it should not take a personal experience with cardiovascular disease or cardiac incidents for women and men to take preventive steps to want to detect and hopefully reverse cardiovascular disease.
Cardiovascular disease is manageable if caught early and treated correctly
Heart attack and stroke events may seem to occur “suddenly”, but they do not happen overnight. These conditions are usually lurking undetected for years, with many people who suffer these shocking events having fallen through the cracks of early detection. They may have been tested and told that their cholesterol was “within normal limits” and therefore no further testing was needed. They probably weren’t aware that half of heart attacks occur in people with “normal” cholesterol values. Frighteningly, approximately 30-40% of patients who have a heart attack, the first symptom is sudden death.
Cardiovascular disease is an eminently manageable health issue when diagnosed early
Thankfully, noninvasive techniques are now available for studying the blood vessels themselves, instead of basing treatment decisions on only risk factors, such as cholesterol level. Studies have determined that over-reliance upon existing and traditionally used population-based cardiovascular disease scores based on risk factors can incorrectly classify over 50% of patients by determining them to be of intermediate to high risk, as well as missing people that are thought to be at low risk. This is because risk factors are not the actual disease.
Advanced individualized testing and aggressive prevention saves lives
The key to identifying and managing cardiovascular disease before it becomes advanced is individualized and personalized testing. When was the last time your current practitioner offered extremely well-validated current, 1-, 5, and 10-year cardiovascular risk assessments? Have you been given ongoing short, intermediate, and long-term treatment plans based on those metrics? The earlier that cardiovascular disease is detected, the more successful treatments will be, often permitting the patient to stave off an adverse or morbid event entirely, or until much later in life.
The importance of excellent technology in preventing cardiovascular incidents
The individualized approach of preventive cardiology involves state-of-the-art testing. The following information is only partial and refers to just three out of the many tests that are part of the unique diagnostic process that Dr. Lee Marcus of Preventive Cardiology of New York offers.
Electron Beam Tomography:
EBT can identify coronary artery disease as much as two decades prior to the onset of symptoms with an accuracy of 99%. The scan reveals “calcified plaque” – hard, dense deposits involving the coronary arteries and other structures that indicate the presence and extent of atherosclerosis – and generates a “calcium score”. This plaque has been shown to closely correlate with the degree to which the arteries are becoming obstructed, risk of heart attack, and overall cardiovascular prognosis. EBT is not only the most accurate imaging technique with respect to calcium scoring but also carries significantly less radiation exposure than the standard CT scan. The scan takes less than five minutes to complete and has over 26 years of robust clinical data. It is the only form of CT scanning recommended by the American Heart Association for cardiovascular screening.
CS-100 ECG Study:
The CS-100 ECG test gathers electrical information about your heart from the same 12 electrode leads as a standard electrocardiogram. However, the data are analyzed by a patented dedicated computer algorithm via a complex mathematical analysis. This test is able to detect the presence of coronary artery obstruction of 40% artery diameter or greater, with upwards of 90% sensitivity when compared to an invasive coronary angiogram. When combined with the calcium score and various other blood tests, this test, exclusive to PCNY, provides a very early look at your cardiovascular health – truly what may be lurking under the “tip of the iceberg”.
Advanced Blood Vessel Health Analysis: SphygmoCor
The blood pressure in your arm (“brachial blood pressure) is only a surrogate measurement for the actual blood pressure that your heart, brain, and kidneys see (central, or “aortic” blood pressure) – which is truly the more important measurement. These measurements, unfortunately, can vary widely and result in inappropriate over- and under-treatment of blood pressure related conditions. The SphygmoCor system determines your central (aortic) blood pressure and the health of your larger arteries, providing a wide range of valuable information about one’s cardiovascular health and risk. Dr. Lee Marcus is a nationally recognized expert and lecturer on the importance of measuring central blood pressure and associated parameters.
We will describe some of the other diagnostic tests that are unique to Preventive Cardiology of New York in later blog posts. The more you know about your health, the more likely you are to stay healthy!