You have approximately 100,000 miles of arteries in your body and they are all connected. The healthier they are, the healthier you are. Until a few years ago, we had numerous indirect ways to assess the overall risks based on factors like blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and inflammatory markers. These were very valuable and a good way to assess likelihoods, but there was not a very good way to actually assess the overall level of disease in the arterial tree.
Now we have a newer way to make this assessment and I have decided that it has significant value. The test is called a coronary calcium score and it looks specifically at the arteries in the heart. The test gives an absolute calcium score and also a risk score based on age and gender.
But let’s be clear, if your coronary calcium score is high, the score doesn’t apply solely to the arteries in your heart. It applies to your entire arterial system. So your brain artery calcium score is high, your kidney artery calcium score is high, and so on, and so on.
A recent study looked at the coronary calcium scores of a tribe called the Tsimane in Bolivia. They ate a starch-based (74% calories from carbohydrate) low-fat (15% calories from fat) diet. Very few of them had scores above zero and only three percent were over 100. The average American woman was around 200, the typical American man over 70 was around 1000.
The good news is, you can reverse your coronary calcium score and you can check it out over time to make sure you’re going in the right direction.
I recently had my own test done and I am happy to report my score was that of most of the Tsimane, a nice oval zero, but if you are over forty and have any risk factors or just want to know where you stand, I think this is an excellent way to find out what is the best strategy for you to try to reduce your risk of ending up like Bob Harper did.
Doctors like Dean Ornish and Caldwell Esselstyn have established firmly that any degree of arterial disease can be reversed. In case you decide to wait to adopt a plant-based diet until your body shows signs of heart disease, remember this: around a third of those suffering their first heart attack don’t survive it.
We offer body composition scanning at our office so you can see how much visceral (metabolically bad) fat you have. We can perform a nutritional analysis to make sure you are getting a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol and high enough in complex carbohydrate to be sure your plaque scores are going in the right direction.
Learn where you are so you can figure out what you need to do to stay healthy and active through the years! We can help.