In Malaysia heart disease is still the leading cause of death. In fact every hour one Malaysian will die of a heart attack. With the Heart Health day been in September and with all our current knowledge and treatment options it is surprising that so many people still suffer from heart disease.
We all know the risk factors – Cigarette smoking, high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, obesity, physical inactivity, stress and male sex. However others like inflammation, free radical damage, homocysteine, vascular tone and blood coagulation are seldom looked at and assessed.
Than we hear of stories of fitness guru Jim Fitt who drops death at 54 while jogging and an autopsy showed that all his heart vessels were blocked while Winston Churchill the Prime Minister of England during World War 2 who once said “I am allergic to exercise”, a chain smoker, obese with a super stressful job who lived into his nineties.
We all have heard of stories like this and we get more confused.
Today we know that though lifestyle is still the key for a healthy heart, about 30% to 40% still depends on our genes. The science of DNA profiling, epigenetics, nutrigenomics is the future of personalized medicine. Today we know we can down regulate or up regulate our DNA variants or like we say switch off or switch on our genes.
Both my parents have hypertension and heart disease. Was I also doomed to have the same fate? As I did my DNA profile two years ago I realized that I had all the least beneficial variants for heart health. I had ‘bad’ variants in inflammation, oxidative stress, homocysteine, blood pressure, insulin resistance and vascular tone and coagulation. I know I cannot change my genes but I could start on a lifestyle and supplement program that could work and support my genes and reduce my risk of heart disease. You cannot change your genes but you can change their expression.
Today I encourage all my patients to have their profile done and commence them on a lifestyle program to prevent disease and age well. The DNA test is only done once as it never changes and many labs in Malaysia now do this but the lifestyle habits that are created will last forever.
I still believe Prevention is better than Cure and the motto Live Long Live Well.