You don’t smoke and have a glass of wine with dinner just a few nights each week.
Your blood pressure and cholesterol are normal.
You don’t have diabetes and your blood glucose tests are fine. Your fasting glucose is under 100 and your Hgb A1c is normal.
You get 8 hours of sleep most nights.
You have stress but it’s not as bad as some of your friends.
No one in your family has ever had a heart attack or stroke.
That’s great news, right?
But guess what? That is not enough information to know if you are at risk or not.
We’ve been conditioned to believe that as long as you don’t have any of the classic risk factors for heart disease, you have nothing to worry about.
It’s the way I practiced for nearly 25 years. I thought that if my patients were able to control all of the classic risk factors, they would never fall victim to heart disease.
And it makes sense. Think about someone you know who had a heart attack or stroke. He was probably overweight, ate junk food, and never exercised. He had a clear reason to get sick.
But what about that friend who looked healthy and went to the gym and one day has a stroke or a heart attack, or has sudden death?
See, for about 50 percent of people who have heart disease, a heart attack or stroke is their first symptom.
They never felt sick. They have no warning.
In my practice, I see it all day long: more than half of my patients have significant cardiovascular disease that hasn’t been identified or treated aggressively enough.
Why? Because the method that most physicians use to evaluate your risk for heart disease just falls short. In fact, we’re missing a huge percentage of people who seem healthy but have some major underlying issues that could cause serious problems down the line.
A better way
More than 10 years ago Dr. Bradley Bale, a physician, and Amy Doneen, a nurse practitioner, were noticing that many of their patients were getting stents put in their hearts and having heart attacks and strokes, despite the fact that they led a healthy lifestyle and were not considered high risk.
Bale and Doneen knew there had to be a better way to identify the problems earlier, so they devised a new approach - aptly titled the Bale/Doneen Method. They realized that instead of just managing risk factors, you need to look for disease, the driving forces of that disease, and identify and eliminate inflammation.
One method is to look for plaque in the carotid artery. Sometimes it’s a high volume of plaque that’s the problem but it may also be that the plaque is unstable. Stable plaque is hard while unstable plaque is more likely to rupture. If we find plaque, we can then figure out why it’s there. Then we can work to control the factors that are driving it and completely resolve them.
Insulin resistance - a precursor to type-2 diabetes - and cholesterol are other factors that are often overlooked, is extremely common , and a huge driving force of vascular disease. Everyone should have a 2 hour glucose tolerance test to search for this condition.
Sleep problems, stress, periodontal disease, osteoporosis, autoimmune disease are just a few of the problems that drive inflammation and atherosclerosis and must be identified and treated to control the progression of this disease.
Bale/Doneen also looks at family history, genetics and various markers of inflammation. Monitoring these markers regularly and taking steps that reduce them is the engineering that is necessary to stop the wheels of this condition.
Bale and Doneen have been so successful that in 11 years of practice, only one of their patients had a heart attack. At their center, they even provide a money-back guarantee if you do.
To increase the odds that you can identify and prevent this very common disease from striking, Bale/Doneen is proactive and preventative, and it works. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death. It shouldn’t be. We do a great job looking for early disease, not just risk factors for the common cancers such as breast cancer, colon cancer, and cervical cancer. It's time we employ the same logic to a disease that is more common than all of those cancers combined. I feel this is how heart disease should be prevented.