The current recommended model of care for managing patients at risk for cardiovascular disease is far short of ideal. Like many, I practiced family medicine as I was trained in medical school and residency until I realized that there was actually more I could be doing for my patients’ long-term trajectory toward health or disease. Truthfully speaking, the disheartening morbidity and mortality statistics obligated me to find better options for my many patients at risk for cardiometabolic disease (e.g., hypertension, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, etc.).
Study and training through The Institute for Functional Medicine allowed me to transcend the fatalistic myth I had accepted and, worse, passed onto my patients: that cardiovascular risk factors are mostly genetically predetermined. IFM educators at the Cardiometabolic Advanced Practice Module (APM) emphasized the fascinating and emerging science of epigenetics. We learned to rethink the basic science tenet stating that genes have not changed for thousands of years as evidence clearly underscores the clinical impact of poor lifestyle choices and cultural norms over the last century.
Practically, while cholesterol plays a role in screening for the general population, it falls short of identifying and adequately assessing many individuals who are at risk. This lack of emphasis on personalized medicine, the foundation of epigenetics, is why nearly 50% of all heart attacks and strokes occur in patients with “normal” cholesterol levels. IFM’s Cardiometabolic APM expands on the unique impacts of cholesterol, lipoproteins, insulin dysfunction, inflammation, and oxidative stress, which enables clinicians like me to now provide my patients the added security of knowing how their decisions (lifestyle and/or pharmaceutical) are impacting their global cardiometabolic risk score.
With almost a decade of advanced lipoprotein testing under my belt, I am reassured that I can provide either a sense of security on the current therapeutic plan or an opportunity to address otherwise undetected risk that could put my patients in the 50/50 gamble that the general population faces without this vital clinical information.
Join me for IFM’s Cardiometabolic APM and come away with new tools for helping patients understand their true cardiometabolic risk.