About 600,000 people die of cardiovascular disease in the United States every year — one in every four deaths — and it is the leading cause of death for both men and women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Functional medicine has made significant breakthroughs since the late 1990s in treating its underlying causes. Practitioners test for genetic information and applicable biomarkers. Armed with these, they can identify preventive and therapeutic strategies that go beyond traditional treatments.
Research in genomics – the use of the genetic information to guide medical decision-making – has increased the understanding of the relationships be¬tween genes, proteins and disease. Advances have improved diagnostic tools allowing doctors to address the whole person, not just an isolated set of symptoms. These improvements are now being used to assess cardiovascular disease risk, facilitate prevention and aid in early detection.
Using personalized medicine, a physician can identify whether a patient is genetically at risk for cardiovascular disease and implement a customized wellness plan. General guidelines include: don’t smoke, control your blood pressure, achieve your ideal body weight, exercise several times per week with a mix of aerobic and resistance training, follow a diet individualized for genomics and keep your blood sugar within an ideal range.
Functional medicine looks at lifestyle and behaviors that contribute to the onset of heart disease. One of the most important and often overlooked causes is chronic stress — which triggers the body’s fight-or-flight response. Each time the response is triggered, the body releases biochemicals that promote blood clotting, inflammation, arterial constriction, elevated blood pressure, deterioration of heart cells and dangerous changes in heart rate. Recognizing and reducing the sources of stress can decrease the risk of angina, heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure and other issues.
For example, by combining these two types of medicine, a doctor can use genetic markers to detect a person’s predisposition to atrial fibrillation, coronary artery disease, ventricular arrhythmias and thrombosis or clotting. They then use the data to create a customized approach to prevention. Another application can benefit those already suffering from chronic conditions, as in identifying a heart transplant patient’s probability of rejecting a new organ.
Currently, genetic testing is recommended or required for many of the FDA-approved drugs specifically prescribed for cardiovascular conditions. Functional and personalized medicine practitioners use such information for so much more. Transcending routine bloodwork, they evaluate your genetic risk factors for the development of heart disease. This allows them to ameliorate or manage the predispositions as early as possible. Finally, an approach to heart health that seeks to prevent the development of disease in the first place.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Dr. Paige is one of a select group of providers in the country to offer this revolutionary approach to medicine. Building upon the knowledge obtained from his over twenty years as a primary care physician, he offers a unique perspective in his new practice, the Medical Transformation Center. He has obtained a fellowship in Anti-aging, Regenerative and Functional medicine, which he completed with the American Academy of Anti-aging Medicine. He is board certified by the American Board of Anti-aging and Regenerative Medicine and has been board certified in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics. He is also an Assistant Clinical Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Louisville.
This article is for informational purposes only, and is educational in nature. Statements made here have not been evaluated by the FDA. This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Please discuss with your own, qualified health care provider before adding in supplements or making any changes in your diet.