National University of Health Sciences (NUHS) is now partnering with Cleveland HeartLab to offer important tests that can assess a patient’s risk for a heart attack or heart disease. “These new tests give detailed information that an everyday cholesterol test won’t show,” says Fraser Smith, ND, head of the naturopathic medicine program at NUHS. “Half of all people who have a heart attack have ‘normal’ cholesterol levels at the time. It takes them by surprise. But now we can go deeper and assess the actual condition of the arteries that feed the heart with a series of blood tests developed by Cleveland HeartLab.”
Five simple blood tests can inform NUHS physicians on the level of inflammation in the arteries, as well as plaque formation (arteriosclerosis). This gives NUHS clinicians a more complete picture of each patient’s risk for heart attack. “Inflammation and plaque formation are silent killers,” says Dr. Smith. “However, these new tests allow our clinic to measure their effect on a patient’s cardiovascular system.”
“Whether patients are in their twenties or forties we can give them a reliable report on their risk profile – whether a heart attack is likely in the next year, or whether healthy patients might be able to make small lifestyle changes to avoid a heart attack twenty year’s from now, we can find out exactly where on the continuum of heart health they are right now.”
The tests determine the level of inflammation and plaque development in coronary arteries, and whether that plaque is growing and at risk for developing into an obstruction or infarction, causing a heart attack. In fact, one of the five tests can determine whether you are in a high risk category with a strong chance of having a heart attack within the next one or two years.
The advanced lipid evaluation in the new tests doesn’t just measure LDL and HDL, it can tell how “sticky” your LDL is. If your LDL is “sticky” you may have a higher chance of plaque formation and arterial damage, even if your overall cholesterol and LDL/HDL levels are normal. Or your HDL, the “good cholesterol,” can be rendered nonfunctional. It could be unable to do its job to protect you. “These tests tell us about the ‘quality’ of your cholesterol, rather than just the quantity, and that’s what gives us an in-depth picture of your heart health and heart attack risk,” says Dr. Smith.
“If somebody’s at imminent risk of a heart attack, we can prescribe aggressive intervention from a cardiologist in addition to dramatic lifestyle and diet changes. If the person has only a slight to moderate risk, we can start him or her on a program of diet, exercise and other lifestyle modifications with follow up testing to see if the changes are working,” says Dr. Smith.
“It’s as if we have a road map,” he explains. “We can point and say ‘you’re right here and we can reverse this,’ or ‘it’s good you came in, because your high risk shows we need to take action right away.”
“The students in the doctor of naturopathic medicine degree program are learning about the interpretation and clinical application of this advanced cardiac testing,” Smith goes on to say, “and these panels from the Cleveland Heart Lab are a prime example of how we train students to combine a solid grounding in whole health preventive medicine with the very best that new advances in medical science can offer.”
“Since heart disease is still America’s number one cause of death, it’s great that our Lombard and Naperville clinics can offer cutting edge lab tests at an affordable cost. Because our clinics offer integrative medical care, including chiropractic, allopathic, naturopathic and oriental medicine, we can follow up with patients after their test to offer effective natural solutions to improve their cardiac wellness,” says Dr. David Parish, dean of clinics for NUHS.
To make an appointment for testing, call 1-630-629-9664 and ask for the Cleveland HeartLab cardiac wellness program at National University’s Whole Health Center.