The current recommended model of care for managing patients at risk for cardiovascular disease is far short of ideal. Like many of you, 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. 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 the reason nearly 50% of all heart attacks and strokes occur in patients with ‘normal’ cholesterol levels.1
How can you help these patients? In an online, CME learning experience, IFM’s Exploring Functional Medicine: Personalized Treatments for Cardiometabolic Conditions, you will refine and expand your approach to cardiovascular risk detection. This case-based course provides a framework for individualized assessment and personalized treatment of cardiometabolic conditions.
—Shilpa P. Saxena, MD, Educator in Exploring Functional Medicine
- Zhang Z-M, Rautaharju PM, Prineas RJ, et al. Race and sex differences in the incidence and prognostic significance of silent myocardial infarction in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study. Circulation. 2016;133(22):2141-2148. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.115.021177.
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