Evaluating Your Heart Health

My Notes from the Healthy Heart Summit

An Interview with Dr Steven Masley MD, FAHA, FAAFP, FACN, CNS, CCD
web page drmasley.com and

The Optimal Evaluation for your Heart

Many people think the cause of heart disease as risk factors, something like cholesterol but they don’t cause heart disease those are risk factors that we use to predict are you at risk. A much better explanation of the cause is are you growing plaque in the lining of your arteries. If your linings are growing plaque, if there gradually thickening and closing that’s really the cause and the first sign of cardiovascular disease. This we can prevent and reverse, so the good news is we can make a huge difference in preventing and reversing arterial plaque growth. We can measure this in our clinic, we use ultrasound, with ultrasound we can measure the thickness of the lining of the arteries. There is no radiation, no needles, it’s simple, it’s a fifteen minute procedure. And if we measure it yearly we can see if your plaque is growing, shrinking, or staying the same. As we are measuring we can get an idea of your risk based on the age of your arteries and our goal is to help people have arteries that are literally ten years younger.

We presented this at the American Heart Association meeting in March of 2014 and we looked at over 500 patients who had measurements of nutrition, lab tests, fitness, all sorts of markers, and we measured their arterial plaque score. Of those things you would expect from the classic risk factors, surprisingly total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol were not strong predictors of heart disease. The classic symptoms that were a predictor was high blood pressure, that was not surprising because the blood pressure measures the function of how the arteries are working. Body fat was because if your overweight and your body fat is up your likely to grow plaque and your blood sugar did. Those are the classic factors for are you likely to grow plaque. What was fascinating is there were multiple lifestyle factors we’re going to talk about that also predict that which are so easy to change so you can prevent and reverse plaque growth.

We have tried to look at food in a different way so I try to develop new categories. Adding these categories your going to shrink your arterial plaque if it’s already advanced or you can prevent it from growing if your pretty normal. Number one is fiber, of all the food groups we looked at one of the most powerful predictors of shrinking and preventing plaque growth is eat more fiber. Were not talking about from breakfast cereal which is from ground up flour and can raise your blood sugar, were talking about fiber from vegetables, fruit, beans and nuts, eating more of that. Nothing you can do is more powerful than adding those things.

Number two is adding more clean protein, way too many people are not meeting their protein needs and we would like to get clean protein from wild seafood, cage free organic eggs and poultry, grass fed beef, beans, organic greek yoghurt. Those are all clean protein sources that help satisfy hunger and rev your metabolism for better weight control. Number three is more healthy fat, we want you to eat healthy fats that are going to be good for your brain, arteries, and hormone metabolism. Olive oil, nuts, nut oils, avocado, cold water fish and dark chocolate, those are great fats we want you to add.

The forth is beneficial beverages , too many people are drinking junk sodas, sugar, juice which is mostly sugar, we want you to drink more clean pure liquids. My favorite would be a protein smoothie in the morning with berries, protein powder and almond milk. Green tea is really good for you, pure water, herbal teas, and hot cocoa too, just don’t add sugar to it. Last is flavor, when you add herbs spices you decrease inflammation and of course dark chocolate you have to have an ounce of dark chocolate everyday. Those are the five food categories we have associated with helping people prevent heat disease, and if you already have it shrinking arterial plaque.

With exercise we have always heard it’s good for your heart but think about it your arteries that nourish and feed your entire body, your cardiovascular system, are really just muscles. And they need to be exercised, they need to be used. If you just sit at your desk forty plus hours a week and you don’t get out and pump your heart your arteries will stiffen, they become dysfunctional and start to grow plaque, which is clearly not the plan. We want your arteries to be flexible, elastic, so your plaque decreases over time or at least you don’t grow it, so exercise is critical for getting that pulse wave. If you get out for thirty minutes a day get your heart rate up your heart starts beating your really going to dilate your arteries and your going to stimulate and improve that process entirely.

We have looked at what prevents it, fiber was number one, fish oil for omega 3s from cold water fish like sardines, salmon, sole. Or if they took a fish oil supplement that’s good, but we prefer it was a good quality supplement. When you add those nutrients we saw that vitamin K, magnesium, potassium, all of those predicted how old your arteries are when we first met you. So they are strong predictors of are you growing plaque in your arteries. This last year we looked at hundreds of our patients who shrunk their artery plaque at least 10%. We looked at what predicts plaque shrinkage over time, or not grow, and again fiber very powerful. So more vegetables, beans and nuts, when you add those you can help decrease plaque growth or shrink it.

Magnesium was surprisingly powerful, magnesium is a mineral found in nuts, seeds and leafy’s and 70% of Americans are deficient in magnesium today. So by getting magnesium from foods. We provide a food list in the 30 day heart tune up to show you how to get magnesium in those foods and you can also add a supplement. Potassium that you get from foods, vitamin D was also very important and so is vitamin K that you get from green leafy’s. If you don’t have vitamin K you shift calcium from your bones to your arteries so we want to prevent that from occurring. Yes most people should take a multivitamin because 85% of Americans are significantly deficient in multiple nutrients, it’s very common. When you take a multivitamin you immediately drop your cancer risk, even a bad quality supplement has clearly been shown to decrease cancer risk in average Americans. Many nutrients that we’re deficient in, chromium more than half of Americans, adequate B12 probably half of Americans, were deficient in these common vitamins and minerals. The challenge is it’s got to be good quality, quality is so important in predicting. Looking at this I can’t emphasize enough that you want your ingredients to be good and from a company you can trust.
The information contained on this site is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment from a licensed physician. It is essential that you discuss with your doctor any symptoms or medical problems you may be experiencing.

M. Scherker medical researcher