CIMT (Carotid Intima Media Thickness) Screening Event

The Prevent Clinic is hosting a CIMT Screening Event on May 17th 2017!

Join us to learn more about your heart health and risk for heart attack or stroke.

Dr. Victor P. Avis, D.D.S.

15 St. Pauls Avenue

Staten Island, NY 10301

http://www.avisdds.com

Call us to set up an appointment!: 972-672-9131
Or e-mail us at: sharlene@heartriskhotline.com

A CIMT is:

• Painless and takes about 15 minutes
• Can predict future cardiac (heart attack) and cerebrovascular (stroke) events
• Allows earlier detection and intervention
• Allows more accurate risk assessment than traditional risk factors, even in those with no symptoms
• Can distinguish between different types of plaque providing further information about stable and unstable plaque
• Is recommended once per year for everyone 40 years of age and older.
• At baseline is recommended in younger people (under 40) with any concerns or risk factors such as family history, diabetes, high blood pressure.

CIMT Image

Surprisingly, you do not have to look directly at your heart to tell if you are at risk for a heart attack. Arterial disease (plaque build up or atherosclerosis in your artery walls) and inflammation are the underlying causes of most heart attacks and strokes. Unfortunately many people do not know they have plaque in their arteries until it is too late. You may have plaque and show no outward signs or symptoms of arterial disease.

The CIMT, one of the safest and best ways to check for plaque in your arteries is an ultrasound (sonogram) of the walls and inside lining of your carotid arteries – the major blood vessels in your neck. When these arteries become diseased with plaque, inflammation and formation of a blood clot can occur – which blocks blood flow to your brain and can result in a stroke. If this process is occurring in your heart (coronary) arteries, the result is a heart attack. The CIMT findings are reflective of the disease process throughout your body – thorough out your entire arterial system, including the heart (or coronary arteries). Abnormalities found on the CIMT are strongly linked to high risk for heart attack and stroke. In addition to plaque evaluation, the CIMT also provides an estimate of your arterial age. For this reason, the CIMT is sometimes referred to as the “Artery Age” test. If your arteries are significantly “older” than your chronological age, the wall are thicker than average for your age and gender. This is a sign you are developing cardiovascular disease.

Multiple studies indicate that CIMT measurement detects the presence or absence of atherosclerotic disease and also allows for assessment of the degree of atherosclerotic burden better than other noninvasive tests available. CIMT is recommended by both the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology.

Special pricing includes your report and an interpretation visit with Gina (phone or in person) available when you call or e-mail us!

Eggs and Your Heart Health

Recently, I was asked about eggs and cardiovascular health.Hatching

Many people are afraid to eat cholesterol-containing foods, such as eggs. Eggs are a great source of vitamins, nutrients and amino acids. But, egg yolks contain cholesterol. What about eating cholesterol? Does cholesterol consumption increase one’s risk for atherosclerosis (plaque build up in the artery walls) and heart attacks? Do eggs clog arteries?

The ”lipid-hypothesis” theory suggests that there is a direct relationship between eating foods that are high in cholesterol (such as eggs, lobster, steak, and liver) and developing cardiovascular disease. This theory has long been controversial. Recent research suggests that dietary cholesterol isn’t nearly as dangerous as most people believe. Recent studies have demonstrated that eating three or more eggs per day raises HDL (the “good cholesterol”) and also produces larger HDL and LDL (the “bad cholesterol”) particles. Bigger more robust HDL particles are better at ridding the bloodstream of harmful cholesterol. And bigger LDL particles are less likely to invade the arterial wall and clump into plaque.

Cholesterol is important for every cell in our body, especially brain cells. We need cholesterol to make digestive bile acids that allow us to actually utilize nutrients from our food. Cholesterol is necessary to manufacturer sex hormones (testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen) and necessary to manufacturer vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. So, with the PREVENT method, we do not recommend strict restriction of dietary cholesterol for most people. Our genes influence cholesterol levels more than diet. So, it is important to know your genetic make-up for tailored nutritional recommendations that favor your DNA.

Part of this blog is paraphrased with permission from “Beat the Heart Attack Gene” written by Amy Doneen and Brad Bale, our current leading experts in heart attack and stroke prevention.  I highly recommend everyone read and follow the recommendations in this book.

Bale, Bradley, MD, Doneen, Amy, DNP, ARNP, Collier Cool, Lisa “Beat the Heart Attack Gene:  The Revolutionary Plan to Prevent Heart Disease, Stroke, and Diabetes” 2014  Wiley

8 Foods for Healthier Arteries

Cardiovascular disease is actually a buildup of plaque which leads to gradual clogging of the arteries. Statistically, it is the number one killer-disease in the world, and an average of 2,000 Americans die of this disease each day!

Taking into consideration high rates like these, the cardiovascular health is one of the most important body system you should maintain and repair. Progressive clogging of the arteries is usually caused by diet, genetics and a sedentary lifestyle. It is possible to treat this condition and we have listed 8 delicious foods that will help you prevent and repair the damage.

8-foods-that-could-help-unclog-your-arteries

1. Garlic

It may not have the best taste, but nutritionists do call it a super-food! Garlic will not only protect your cardiovascular health, but it can also help in the treatment of viruses, infections and even cancer!

Scientists confirm that by consuming 4,000 mcg of allicin (contained in 1-4 garlic cloves) a day, you can lower your cholesterol, decrease both diastolic and systolic blood pressure, and prevent blood cloths from forming. This creamy zinger garlic spread or pumpkin seed and garlic pasta will give you the required daily dose of cloves.

2. Pomegranate

The latest studies have shown that this delicious fruit can clean plaque build up from your arteries and also stimulate the production of nitric oxide in the blood, which will open the arteries and reduce the blood pressure.

This amazing cashew citrus cream cake with pomegranates is an excellent way to add more pomegranates to your menu!

3. Turmeric

Curcumin, the primary polyphenol found in turmeric, has proven to be efficient in the reduction of the fatty deposits in the arteries by 26%!

4. Chia Seeds

Ancient cultures have long used chia seeds, mostly because it is a solid source of hydration and energy. The fiber and alpha-linoleic acid found in chia seeds regulate the blood pressure, lower the triglycerides, and regulate the cholesterol by increasing the good and decreasing the bad cholesterol levels. Chia seeds are not only heart-healthy, but also versatile and delicious

5. Cinnamon

The cinnamon challenge is probably responsible for the negative attention to the spice, but when consumed wisely, it is amazingly efficient in treating many health conditions. Take a tablespoon of cinnamon a day and you will reduce cholesterol levels and receive a healthy dose of antioxidants. These delicious vegan cinnamon rolls will warm your heart, making it healthier and happier.

6. Apples

Apples are rich in pectin which can lower the cholesterol and slow the progression of artery clogging. A group of researchers from Ohio State University found that just an apple a day can help you reduce the hardening of the arteries by 40%.

It seems like the old adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” is actually true! Have some grilled apple pie with vanilla coconut whipped cream and get the necessary daily dose of pectin.

7. Tomatoes

Tomatoes contain carotenoid lycopene, an antioxidant that gives their rich red color. This antioxidant is also found in its lighter or greener varieties. Increase your lycopene intake and reduce the oxidation of bad cholesterol, which causes atherosclerosis. Tomatoes are also important for bone health! This warming eggplant and tomato stew will give you the required dose of lycopene.

8. Greens

Leafy greens are rich in anti-oxidizing vitamins. These can prevent the oxidization of cholesterol, which leads to the formation of plaque in the arteries. Greens also contain fiber, potassium, and folate, which are efficient in the treatment of high blood pressure.

A single serving of folate-rich leafy greens a day can lower the homocysteine levels. This decreases the risk of cardiovascular diseases, so try to consume more spinach or chard. Green smoothies are the perfect way to consume more greens. Try this delicious green smoothie cheat sheet and adjust the ingredients untill you find your favorite!

– Source: http://www.healthyfoodhouse.com/8-foods-that-could-help-unclog-your-arteries/#sthash.l9LXxUUz.dpuf

I do not support articles or advice recommending one food or even a few foods as the “Super Food” answer to preventing heart attack and stroke.  In fact, some of this type of advice is downright offensive to me because it is dangerously misleading to the reader.  And, most nutritional recommendations are not the best advice for everyone.  In other words, the most effective nutritional advice is individualized, based on one’s genetics.  However, I have posted the following link because the 8 foods discussed are highly recommended by me.  The authors have gone too far, in my opinion, to say these foods will “Unclog your arteries”.  Nonetheless food is powerful and these 8 foods will promote healthy arteries, for any genetic type.- Gina Pritchard

Reduce Stress so Life’s Not a Mess

We all know how stressful life can be. Between balancing home and work life, the increased congestion on our roads and the overall hectic schedule of our day to day lives can cause even the easiest going person to feel some stress. But how you let stress impact you is within your
control.

While a certain amount of stress is considered normal, stress that is frequent or long lasting can adversely affect your health, from headaches, to upset stomach, to weakening your immune system. Stress can also make your heart race and cause rapid breathing.

You CAN choose to have less stress in your life. I started thinking about the ways I control stress in my life, and here are my top 10:

  • Make a list of things you are thankful for, when you’re stressed think about all of the wonderful things in your life already.
  • Talk it out and put it in perspective. Sometimes sharing your feelings of stress with a confidant can allow you to gain a different perspective. A good friend can sometimes help you see the positives, even if it seems there are none.
  • Keep a realistic schedule. Try not to say “yes” to every opportunity that comes your way, allow for some free time every day.
  • Get enough rest. Being tired makes everything seem worse.
  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet. Keeping your body nourished can positively impact your state of mind. Also try to drink more water and less caffeine.
  • Write it down. Take time to journal about the stress you’re feeling.
  • Go for a walk. A change of scenery could be just what you need. Walk at a comfortable pace, and take good deep breaths. Even 5 minutes around the block can boost your mood.
  • Volunteer at a local animal shelter. There is nothing better than giving affection to a pet waiting for its forever family. Better yet, just get out and volunteer! There are so many organizations that need and will greatly appreciate your time. Visit with a local senior who is housebound and spend time listening to their journey, you’ll learn something new and provide companionship.
  • Reflect. Think about what causes you the greatest stress in your life. Is there something you can change or modify to reduce your level of stress? Do you find your commute to work particularly stressful? Perhaps changing your route could help.
  • Find something to look forward to. Book yourself a massage, or plan a weekend getaway. Having an enjoyable activity on the horizon, and planning for it can be enough to change your mindset.

If you feel that you are unable to control the stress in your life or feelings of overwhelm are constant for you, make an appointment to see your health care provider and discuss your feelings – don’t feel like you need to do it alone.

A Shake a Day to Keep Sickness at Bay

Shakes are a convenient and portable meal option – especially handy for breakfast on those busy mornings. Shakes are a great solution for getting healthy nutrition in our bodies even with a hectic schedule or busy lifestyle. In fact, a well-planned shake can be extremely beneficial for your body – a great way to pack in those nutrient-rich health-promoting and disease-fighting foods in a quick, easy, and delcious way. Shakes can be especially fun if you involve the kids.

Try this great Shake recipe I use often – one of my favorites!

Strawberry Kale Shake

Ingredients
6-8 medium to large leaves of kale
1/4 avocado or 1/8 banana or both (if using banana, I like to use frozen as this adds a thicker consistency to the shake-go easy on the amount of banana as it is a high glycemic fruit)
2 cups of frozen strawberries (or a mix of different berries)
1 cup of almond milk (coconut milk or water)
1-2 tablespoons of flax seeds, chia seeds or both
1 scoop of rice/pea protein powder (I switch between chocolate and vanilla, depending on my mood at the moment. This shake is delicious with either one)

Instructions
1. First add in the liquid ingredients with the kale, apple, seeds and protein powder. Blend for 30 seconds.
2. Slowly add in the frozen berries so the blender doesn’t get stuck. If it does, add in more liquid.

Note: If you prefer a thicker consistency, add in more frozen berries or ice to get the desired consistency.

Most importantly – have fun with it. “Shake” up your recipe with what looks great at the produce market, try a little more veggies, or a little more fruit, swap out almond milk for coconut for a more tropical feel.

Let’s hear your favorite breakfast options – how do you get your body ready for the day ahead?

Give Yourself the gift of Better Health this Christmas or Hanukkah Season!

I want to share with you a recent experience of mine…

As many of you know, I am working with the esteemed Cardiologist, Jeffrey Gladden, MD, FACC and the AWHOL-HP program.  AWHOL-HP is the acronym for Advanced Wellness Health Optimization & Longevity – Health Partners.  He and I “Walk the Talk”, as is recommended in the AWHOL-HP program I routinely have my blood drawn.  Most recently, on my second set of blood tests, my iron level had fallen from previous testing.

This was especially surprising to me because I have been eating healthier of recent – meaning more nutrient rich foods, especially vegetables – with 1-2 cups of dark green vegetables in my smoothie once or twice daily.  Spinach is a good source of iron with 2.2 mg per cup.  I had been eating some spinach, but more Kale.  Kale has half the amount of iron that spinach does (1.1 mg per cup).  So while Kale is a one of the best, most nutrient dense foods we can eat, I will now incorporate the opposite ratio, with more spinach and less kale.

You will find lots of discussion surrounding the human absorption of the iron in spinach.  The iron in spinach in not derived from a heme source.  Much debate exists as to whether or not this means the iron from spinach is poorly absorbed or not.  So, my recommendation is to get iron from a variety of sources.  And, to consider supplementation if blood levels are low.  As always, discuss with your personl health care professional.

I had avoided iron as an ingredient in my daily multivitamin and supplement regimen.  Most women past child-bearing years do well to avoid extra iron supplementation, as additional iron may increase one’s risk of heart attack.  However, we are all individuals and we just do not know exactly what our body needs without testing.

If you are iron deficient, like me, incorporate some of these foods into your diet, as they are good sources of iron:

  • Pumpkin and Squash Seed Kernels
  • Spinach
  • Chickpeas
  • Prunes and Prune Juice
  • Shrimp
  • Tomato
  • Lentils and Beans (White, Kidney, Lima, Navy)

Molasses is a great source of iron as well.  But molasses is just like any other sugar and has a high glycemic index, meaning it is rapidly converted to sugar and produces a quick spike in insulin.  So, go easy on the amount of molasses; and always eat molasses (or any high glycemic food) with protein and fiber to slow the rate of absorption.

While I recommend eating a diet that is primarily or heavily plant based you can also eat the following foods for an additional sourse of iron:

  • Clams
  • Oysters
  • Organ meats
  • Beef and Sardines

Some soybeans, cereals, crackers, and breads have iron in them; but I would recommend avoiding these as much as possible.  I never recommend soy or soy products due to the potential for adverse effect on hormones and because soy is often genetically modified.  And I always recommend avoiding processed foods.  Cereals and crackers fall into this category.  Just eat real food.

Another important point about iron is that it has higher absorption if taken with vitamin C.  So, if you are taking an iron supplement, eat an orange or fruit rich in vitamin C with your supplement.  You can also combine a high iron food (listed above) with a vitamin C rich fruit.  Eat them together for greater absorption of the iron.

So, my work-up continues to determine the source of my iron deficiency.  I will give you an update in my upcoming blog posts.  I also have a few other surprising findings in my blood test results, stay tuned right here for some behind the scenes details.

But for now, please know that this experience is teaching me several things!

Firstly, nutritional deficiencies can happen to anyone – even well fed, healthy individuals – and even me.  I have a good friend who was diagnosed with iron deficiency a few months ago.  When he and I were discussing iron and iron deficiency, I never dreamed I would soon be diagnosed with iron deficiency as well.

Secondly, this experience validates the importance of testing.  No need to guess about what your body needs when you can easily be tested.

And, thirdly, the old saying that “Food Is Medicine” is so true.   Buy something dark green in the produce section and incorporate it into you daily nutrition.  I suggest spinach or kale.

Give yourself the gift of better health this Christmas or Hanukkah season.  Eat healthy, and do not put off getting your blood tests!

…more to come
~Gina

Do You Enjoy Your Healthcare?

This month I want to bring up a controversial and “HOT” topic:

Customer Satisfaction – meaning “Do you enjoy your health care”?
Or to word this question differently:

Do you at least get what you need when you go to the clinic, or go see the Doctor, the Nurse Practitioner, or the Physician Assistant (Health Care Provider or HCP)?

And do you enjoy the interaction or the experience?

It seems we have been discussing the quality, outcome, delivery of health care and customer satisfaction everywhere I go – at seminars, in the exam room and hallways of the clinic, in the hospital, in the grocery store (when I run into a client or co-worker), in the board room – EVERYWHERE! In the current climate of dwindling reimbursement from Medicare and insurance companies, healthcare providers are pressured to see an ever-increasing volume of patients, clients or customers. The result is extremely unhappy patients, clients, customers. I have gained many new clients simply because they sought out someone who would LISTEN. I hear this over and over – “Thank you for listening”.

This leads me to a desire to blow wide open the discussion and hear from those it impacts the most – YOU, the client, patient, customer. I would love to hear your thoughts on the following discussion questions:

  • How would you describe your last visit to your health care provider (HCP – whether Doctor, Nurse Practitioner, or Physician Assistant)?
  • Do you feel like you were heard?
  • Did you get your questions answered?
  • Did you have to wait very long before seeing your HCP?
  • Did you have adequate time to spend with your HCP?
  • What would you like to see change at your HCP’s office or clinic?

I could ask many questions, but hopefully this is enough to begin the dialogue and to begin to change the delivery of care.

I want to hear from you and know what it is you are or are not getting and hear what it is you want and need when you go to your HCP.

Nothing To Fix

Have you or a loved one ever gotten the report of “Nothing to fix” following a Cardiac Catheterization?

This wording is often used to tell the person a coronary stent or balloon is not needed – that they have no coronary artery disease or only mild to moderate coronary artery disease. In this scenario, the recommendations may include medications or there may be no recommendations. But, the same wording –“Nothing to fix”-can describe coronary artery disease that either too extensive to benefit from a stent or balloon or is located such that a stent or balloon may not be possible (in a sharp angle or very small tortuous artery). Recommendations may include medications, coronary artery bypass surgery, or enhanced external counterpulsation (EECP).

In either scenario, my advice is to comply with your Cardiologist but make an appointment also to see an Arteriologist – one who specializes improving the health of the artery wall and eliminating inflammation.  Arteriologists have the expertise to identify and improve the atherosclerosis process and markedly reduce or eliminate your risk of heart attack and/or stroke. Partnering with an Arteriologist provides great benefit for those with mild or extensive moderate disease; and great benefit for those with risk factors and/or family history who do not know if they have disease.

Call my office today.  I am accepting new clients.

3 Things You Must Know for Your Heart’s Health

What more could I have done?” I am often asked this question by a patient in the hospital after a heart attack. The stories are similar: “I just had my annual physical and got a clean bill of health – good cholesterol numbers and passed my stress test. What more could I have done?

Today exciting research is coming out weekly demonstrating that there is indeed So Much More we can do to protect ourselves from heart attack and stroke. Cholesterol numbers (total cholesterol, total HDL or good cholesterol, total LDL or bad cholesterol, and triglycerides) and stress tests are most often not your best predictors of impending heart attack and stroke. 50% of people who have a heart attack have normal cholesterol.

3 Life-Saving Tips to markedly reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke:

  1. Know your Artery Age and The Current Status of the Inside Lining of Your Blood Vessels with a CIMT (Carotid Intimal Media Test).
  2. Know where you are on the Insulin-Glucose Highway. Are you headed for pre-diabetes or diabetes?
  3. Know how much inflammation you have. Inflammation accelerates the danger of a potentially life-threatening situation.

If any of these are not ideal you must find out why and treat the underlying cause.

Saving and Improving Lives through Powerful Heart Attack and Stroke Prevention!

View From The Cath Lab

One of the reasons I am passionate about what I do is that I will enable myself, my loved ones and many of you, my friends, to stay out of “The Cath Lab”.

Let me explain…
The Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory is succinctly referred to as “The Cath Lab”. This is the room or department in hospitals in which diagnostic and interventional procedures are performed. This room is much like an operating room although the procedures are specific to the heart and blood vessels.

Procedures such as:
Coronary (Heart) or Peripheral (meaning blood vessels/arteries further out from the heart – such as renal or kidney arteries, femoral or upper leg arteries) Angiography or Angiogram Coronary or Peripheral Stent Placement and Balloon Angioplasty Pacemaker and Defibrillator Implantation to name a few.

Much of my career has been spent in and around The Cath Labs of various hospitals where I have had privileges in the Dallas/Fort Worth and East Texas area. These are wonderful places where many lives have been saved with highly trained staff, intricate procedures, and ever-evolving highly technical equipment and tools. We will always need The Cath Lab. I thank God for these Cath Labs and all involved in the functioning of them – especially now that we know lives are being saved when individuals get promptly to The Cath Lab when a heart attack is occurring. If you are having a heart attack, clot dissolving medications and procedures in The Cath Lab are exactly what you need – and quickly! I have nothing but the greatest respect for those that staff The Ambulances, Emergency Departments, ICU’s and Cath Labs where all must work as an efficient team to get the heart attack victim from home (or the site of onset of symptoms) to The Cath Lab with lightening-fast speed – while calmly providing individualized life-saving support every step of the way.

WOW!

What a massive orchestration! And, this takes place all across America and other parts of the world everyday.

But, as you know my goal is to reduce the need for these procedures. I want the volume of every Cath Lab to go down. This is not idealistic thinking. We now have the knowledge, tests, and treatments to markedly reduce the incidence of ischemic (due to inflamed atherolsclerosis) heart attack and stroke.

Please look for my thoughts in upcoming issues of View From The Cath Lab to learn more.

Feel Better, Live Longer, Stay Out of The Cath Lab!

Exclusive Offer for Nurse Practitioners!

Join Gina Pritchard and the official launch of
The Subclinical Atherosclerosis Vascular Evaluation (S.A.V.E.) Project

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