Book Recommendation: Beat the Heart Attack Gene

I’ve got a lot of books about healthcare in my home office, and I’ve read them all. Most collect dust on their shelves after I’ve finished with them. But every once in a while, a book comes out that I just can’t stop talking about. Beat the Heart Attack Gene: The Revolutionary Plan to Prevent Heart Disease, Stroke, and Diabetes by Bradley Bale, MD, and Amy Doneen, ARNP, is one of those books.

I won’t spoil it for you – because it really is a fascinating read – but here are a few things Bale and Doneen discuss in Beat the Heart Attack Gene:

  • beat the heart attack geneRed flags that signal increased risk for heart attack and stroke.  These warning signs include:  family history, periodontal disease, migraine headaches, lack of sleep, depression and anxiety, sleep apnea, and vitamin D deficiency.  The authors also advise people to measure their waists, pointing out that waist circumference is a better predictor of heart attack and stroke risk than weight or body mass index (BMI).
  •  The screening tests that can literally be life-savers.  “There is no one specific test that provides a complete evaluation of your cardiovascular health,” the authors write.  They discuss the pros and cons of a variety of ultrasound scans for detecting plaque and blockages.  They also cover a range of other diagnostic tools, including a “Fire Panel” of blood and urine tests they recommend for identifying arterial wall inflammation, and reveal the danger of relying on “stress tests” to gauge the presence of CVD.
  •  What you need to know about cholesterol.  Bale and Doneen warn that most healthcare providers fail to check patients for a common inherited cholesterol problem that has been shown, unequivocally, to cause heart attacks.  They urge readers to be tested for lipoprotein(a), and debunk an array of cholesterol myths – such as that HDL cholesterol is always “good,” and that you’re protected against stroke if your cholesterol is low.
  •  The true culprit in most cases of CVD:  insulin resistance. “Medical providers aren’t doing an adequate job of screening for insulin resistance, even though it affects about 150 million Americans, putting them at risk for both type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease,” write the authors.  They detail the link between insulin resistance and CVD, explain why blood sugar tests are insufficient – and wrong – and recommend the use of oral glucose tolerance tests instead.
  • Decoding your DNA. More than 50 percent of Americans carry one or more gene variants that dramatically increase risk for heart attacks and strokes.  The authors discuss the genes you should be tested for, and why this is critical for taking charge of your health.  “Cardiovascular events are not inevitable, even for people with high-risk genes,” they say.
  • Achieving an optimal lifestyle. Achieving a heart-healthy lifestyle that’s personalized according to your genes, medical conditions, and health risks is the most powerful weapon in your treatment and prevention arsenal, say the authors.  And it can be a lot simpler and more pleasurable than you might imagine. They discuss developing an eating plan that is guided by your genes, offer science-backed weight-loss strategies, and suggest easy lifestyle changes that do your heart good – including nibbling on dark chocolate, avoiding sugary drinks, and getting flu shots.

Beat the Heart Attack Gene is currently available on Amazon. The official release date is February 4, 2014. For more information about the authors and to read an excerpt from the book, please head over to