Today’s post features a few key takeaways from a recent Wellness Your Way podcast interview. Find the full episode here, and be sure to subscribe to Wellness Your Way so you don’t miss future episodes!
Guest Bio: Dr. Bolad
Doctor Bolad is a triple board certified physician, certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine in Cardiology, Interventional Cardiology and Internal Medicine. He has over 20 years of experience in Cardiology and the management of Cardiovascular Disease and has a total of over 30 years experience as a physician. Dr. Bolad is a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology (FACC) and a Fellow of the European Society of Cardiology (FESC) and has a doctorate degree in cardiology from the University of London. Doctor Bolad is on a Mission to use his knowledge and experience to help the public, bringing them up to date information that impacts their health, and keeping the public informed about the latest developments in Medicine in general and in Cardiology in particular.
Top Insights from Dr. Bolad’s Interview
- Heart disease is a broad term that impacts many people. Heart disease includes coronary artery disease (the most common form), valve disease, conduction abnormalities of the heart (like arrhythmias), and structural heart disease. The risk of heart disease increases with age (about 10% of those above age 60 will have some form of heart disease).
- Heart disease is almost always developing for years before an incident occurs. A heart attack, for example, is a crack in the plaque inside your coronary artery. In order to heal the crack (just like a cut on your skin), a clot forms and can block the flow of blood, which presents as an acute event. The majority of people affected by heart disease, though, have been experiencing exertional chest pain, shortness of breath, and other symptoms for a while leading up to the event. In over 50% of cases of “acute” heart attack, it has been found that there was already chronic buildup of plaque which exacerbated the event.
- There are traditional and non-traditional risk factors for heart disease. Traditional factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, and family history. Non-traditional risk factors include dental health and gum disease, chronic inflammation, poor sleep, stress, and depression. We can do something to modify every single one of these except family history, which is an empowering thought!
- Total cholesterol is not very important. The ratios and fractions are much more important (I even got a triple Board Certified cardiologist to say this! 😊), and there is such a thing as cholesterol that is too low overall. Bolad’s favorite ratio is the Total Cholesterol: HDL, and he aims for below 3.5:1. To find out more about cholesterol, see this post.
- Going on statins can be helpful for some people, but they’re not without risks. When Dr. Bolad was in medical school in the 1990s, he was told to never prescribe statins because they increased the risk of death. Now we know that that risk is small and the benefit outweighs the cost for many people, but common side effects include development of Celiac disease, muscle issues like rhabdomyolysis, and cognitive decline (when taken in the long-term). It is an individual decision based on symptoms, family history, evidence of vascular disease, willingness to change lifestyle, other risk factors, and more.
- Diet can have profound impact on heart health. Bolad recommends the Mediterranean diet, which has been shown to be associated with lower risk of coronary and heart disease, better longevity, and no side effects. The Mediterranean diet is risk in vegetables, fruits, nuts, olive oil, and small portions of white meat, fish, and wine.
- Unprocessed red meat in moderation (about 10-12 ounces per week) is fine for most people. One or two servings per week does not show increased risk. See this post for more, or see Dr. Bolad’s YouTube video here.
- Processed food is a complete no for heart health. The preservatives, salts, and chemicals are difficult for your body to process and can contribute to higher risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Want to hear the full episode, including what people with family history of heart disease can do to mitigate the risk, Dr. Bolad’s target ranges for LDL and HDL cholesterol, each of our thoughts about statins, how sugar is linked to heart health, and so much more?
Head over here to catch the full episode with Dr. Bolad!
Now it’s your turn! What is one thing you learned from this interview? What’s one thing you’re committed to changing after learning from Dr. Bolad?
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