Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.
Did you know that a woman dies every minute from cardiovascular disease. Ninety percent of women have more than one risk factor. Do you really know how many risk factors you have?
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, women under the age of 55 suffering heart attacks are seven times more likely to be sent home from the ER than men with the same symptoms!
We have all heard all know the well-known risk factors for cardiovascular disease: obesity, smoking, stress…
But did you know that you can be of normal weight, be fit, work out, snow ski, repel canyons, hike, have a normal chemistry panel, have no symptoms, never smoke, train in the Navy Seal Fitness Challenge, earn a Black Belt in Martial Arts 2021, and in the same year, you can die in your sleep with a massive heart attack?
His name was Tom. He was my son. He passed December 2021.
Perhaps you feel more secure knowing you have a normal cholesterol. The reality is 50% of people who have a heart attack have normal cholesterol.
The key is
- Be clear about your family history. Make sure your doctor is listening. If you have a first degree relative (parent, sibling, or child) with familial hypercholesterolemia, you may be at 20 times the risk of a heart attack. Familial hypercholesterolemia is a genetic disorder caused by a defect on chromosome 19. This defect makes the body unable to remove low density lipoprotein (LDL, or bad) cholesterol from the blood, resulting in a high level of LDL in the blood. This makes you more likely to have narrowing of the arteries from atherosclerosis at an early age. The condition is typically passed down through families in an autosomal dominant manner, i.e., you only need to get the abnormal gene from one parent in order to inherit the disease.
- Have advanced comprehensive cardiovascular lab testing such as a Boston Heart Diagnostic test. Additionally, an EKG, CT calcium score, ultrasound of the carotids, stress test, and other tests as indicated. A basic chemistry test and lipid panel are not good enough.
- Have genetic testing done as soon as possible. Family history is very important. In addition to familial hypercholesterolemia, genetic testing can identify a variety of inherited cardiovascular diseases, including cardiomyopathies, arrhythmic disorders, thoracic aortic aneurysms and dissections.
- It is imperative that you have a comprehensive evaluation of metabolic function and rule out early type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. Individuals with diabetes are 7-8 times at risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
- Of course, avoid the known risk factors of obesity, smoking, and stress. In general, live a healthy lifestyle.
More blogs to come regarding additional causes of cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, strokes, and high blood pressure.