Preventing Heart Disease with Genetics and Advanced Testing

Preventing Heart Disease with Genetics and Advanced Testing

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death of Americans killing over 300,000 men each year and almost as many women – more than cancer and diabetes combined.

Knowing your risk factors and adopting a healthy lifestyle can greatly reduce your chance of CVD, yet almost half of heart events strike people who were deemed “low risk” and half of heart attacks are silent – you may not even know you had an event until something worse happens!

A pair of doctors aim to eradicate heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases with advanced testing and individual, customized care based on genetics. This article discusses the method they’re using to find hidden signs of arterial disease and red flags of increased CVD risk often missed in standard testing.

Preventing Disease Instead of Treating It

CVD causes heart attacks, congestive heart failure, angina pectoris, ischemia, and sudden cardiac arrest. Atherosclerosis, a build-up of fats, cholesterol, and other substances in the arteries is the most common form of heart disease. This plaque causes hardening and narrowing of the arteries that can eventually block the supply of blood and oxygen. 

Standard tests, like a heart stress test, can detect significant plaque buildup causing blockages, but they often miss minor plaque build-up and other red flags of coronary artery disease like calcium in the arteries, say doctors Bradley Bale, MD, and Amy Doneen, DNP and ARNP.

They created the BaleDoneen Method to prevent CVD, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and vascular diseases using advanced laboratory and imaging tests and holistic evaluations to find inflammation in the arteries and the root causes of inflammation. They use genetically guided, evidence-based therapies to extinguish arterial inflammation and halt its progression, preventing and reversing CVD and other diseases.

The BaleDoneen goal of optimizing the wellness of our 60,000 miles of arteries with individualized care requires much more than the current standard of health care, they say.

“The medical establishment has been set up to treat in-stage disease and they’ve done a miraculous job with that associated to heart disease,” Bale says. “But the reality is, nobody needs to reach the point where they need a stint or bypass.”

Bale explains that most cardiologists are trained to intervene once arterial disease causes a serious problem, like a heart attack. Preventative cardiology is not the “standard of care,” he adds. Through the BaleDoneen Method, they’re teaching people and health care providers about advanced ways to prevent disease. As people learn about these methods, they’re pushing for advanced care even if medical providers aren’t.

“Patients understand that there’s a different way of doing things,” says Doneen. “People want the individualized, science-based care. Genetics can tell us all kinds of things, like our lifetime risk of things that might affect their heart health. Genetics in any field can offer the opportunity to be more individualized in therapy. A perfect example is diet. There’s no panacea diet for everyone. We use certain tests to guide lifestyle advice – how they breakdown fats, proteins, and even if they should limit alcohol use.”

Education is Key to the BaleDoneen Method

While genetic testing and other lab work provide huge advancements in disease prevention, Doneen stresses that without proper education, the tests are for naught. That’s why education is the first of the six elements of care in the BaleDoneen Method. When we have better understanding, we can make better choices.

BaleDoneen Method’s 6 Elements of Care

  1. Education: Understanding what causes heart attacks and strokes, plus the action steps needed to prevent these catastrophic events. This empowers people to make choices that lead to recovery and wellness.
  2. Disease: Identifying which patients have disease (plaque) in the arteries is essential since this is a prerequisite for an event. Treatment decisions are based on this infuriation and disease is monitored over time.
  3. Fire: Events are sparked when disease becomes inflamed. Think of plaque as kindling.  Inflammation lights the match, causing the plaque to rupture explosively. A “fire panel” of tests detects and monitors inflammation.
  4. Roots: To put out the fire in your arteries, it’s essential to identify and treat the causes. Without this knowledge, disease often smolders until there is another event. The BaleDoneen Method techniques determine the root causes to halt disease.
  5. Optimal: Setting optimal, individualized goals for modifying each person’s risk factors, rather than goals set by the standard of care, leads to superior outcomes and more effective heart attack and stroke prevention.
  6. Genes: Precision medicine is care based on your unique genetic makeup. The BaleDoneen Method has used genetic testing for over a decade and is on the cutting edge of this rapidly evolving field of medicine.

It’s Never too Early for Genetic Testing

Why isn’t everyone getting this individualized, advanced level of care? Insurance is a big reason. Most health insurance policies don’t cover genetic testing and some of the other lab work. Doctors often won’t suggest testing that’s outside insurance coverage, the doctors say. But the tests are affordable, and you only need genetic testing once, they add.

“Don’t let insurance be your guide when it comes to optimal care,” says Bale. “Having the necessary information about your genetics is essential in understanding your risk and allows for effective treatment planning to prevent future health challenges.”

It’s never too early to use genetic testing for optimal wellness, Doneen adds. Optimal diet, exercise, sleep, anxiety management, and oral health help ensure a healthy pregnancy, healthy children, and healthy adults.

“The earlier you start, the better all of this works,” she emphasizes. “In an ideal world, the parents start before they’re even expecting a child. Especially for oral health.”

If you’re interested in working with a health care provider using the BaleDoneen Method, you can find one on the Provider Search page or contact the center directly. Many providers offer telemedicine so you can receive this care if there’s no provider in your area.

Preventative Care is Critical

Whether you are interested in genetic-based care or not, it’s critical that you seek preventative care such as screenings, counseling, vaccinations, and preventative medication. One study found that only 8% of Americans aged 35 and older get all the recommended high-priority checkups and screenings. Only about 20% of people get three-fourths of important screenings. Men are most likely to miss preventative care altogether.

If you have any of the known risk factors for CVD, stroke, or diabetes, (see the list here) please don’t wait for symptoms to visit a health care provider. Your willingness to take control of your health may determine your longevity and quality of life.