Heart Health Risk

February is Heart Health Month. At hospitals across America you will see a host of "Red Dress" events raising awareness for the importance of heart health in women. Most of us may not realize that Cardiovascular Disease still remains the main cause of mortality among men and women.

However, what most women don't realize is that signs of a heart attack may be different in women than in men. Men will typically get a crushing, heavy chest pain in the front and middle area of the chest, but women can get a different type of pain. Pain in the upper stomach area that "may seem like heartburn" in fact be angina or heart pain. Pain that is also located middle of the back right behind the heart can also be a sign of chest pain.

So, how do you know?

If you have any concerns, go see your doctor right away, so they can help you to decide if you need to get your heart checked further with tests such as and ECG or Stress test.  Having said this, there are several wellness markers you can evaluate today to get a good understanding of your personal risk.

1) Get Your Cholesterol Checked

2) Know Your Blood Pressure and eliminate cigarette smoke from your environment

3) Know not only your BMI, but your Waist to Hip Ratio

4) Evaluate how much salt you eat on a daily basis.

5) Ask your parents about your Family History.  Who had a heart attack and how old were they?

6) Ask Your Doctor to Evaluate your Framingham Risk Score and know the number.

7) Consider getting your homocysteine and cardiac CRP levels checked.

8) Decide if advanced lipid testing is right for you.

Your cholesterol levels, blood pressure, age and smoking status are all used to calculate your Framingham Risk Score.  This is one of the most popular scores that helps doctors to determine your 10-year risk of heart disease.  We also know that an increased BMI (especially over 30) and an increased waist to hip ratio above 0.85 for women and above 0.90 for men {calculated as waist measurement divided by hip measurement (W ÷ H)} puts you at greater cardiovascular risk as well.  Any family members who were diagnosed or had heart attacks before the age of 50, increases your risk.  Reducing your intake of sodium below 2500 mg can help lower your blood pressure which is an independent risk factor for heart disease, so keeping tract of how much to take in on a regular basis will help you know your risk.  Finally, there are some "advanced" blood tests that further help you to understand your risk. 

Some of these are controversial, but worth considering. 

Your homocysteine level and cardiac c-crp levels are markers for inflammation in your blood vessels and since one of the fundamentals of developing plaque in your arteries is inflammation, knowing your overall body inflammation may help you to assess your risk.  Finally, medicine is finding that the "size" of your cholesterol particles is also important in determining your risk, so there are cholesterol panels available to check this; however, they can be expensive and may not change our recommendations for your treatment by much.  Also, cholesterol particle size is largely due to your genetics, so before considering the test, ask yourself if knowing this information will motivate your to change your behavior or just make you more anxious. 

Celebrate your heart this month.  Take time to understand your heart and what it needs to keep you healthy.

If you feel like you need more information on how screenings exams and checkups can benefit your heart health then you owe it to yourself to contact us at Balanced Physician Care today (904-930-4774). Dr Sharyl Truty has the time to truly analysis your symptoms, find the root cause of your issues, and get you back on the path wellness.

“Sticking It” to Injuries

I have treated multiple athletes and weekend warriors with injuries. In the past, I would often describe traditional therapies for acute injuries, such as intermittent icing, wound compression and the use of anti-inflammatory agents.

However, recent research by the Academy of Sports Medicine suggests we may have over-treated injuries with excessive use of anti-inflammatory agents such as ibuprofen.

The concern is that in trying to control swelling, we may actually impede the bodies' natural response to heal. However, it's important to note that excessive swelling could be harmful if it causes pain or decreases blood flow. There are also the potential side effects that can occur from anti-inflammatory agents such as ulcers, internal bleeding and kidney dysfunction.

With this in mind, I decided to change my tactic for treating many athletic injuries. For the last 10 years, I have turned to acupuncture. Most people believe that acupuncture only offers pain relief. This is true, but, more importantly, acupuncture helps facilitate injury repair and wound healing by accessing energy pathways called meridians. The placement of the acupuncture needles on these pathways improves energy flow, which speeds healing.

I am continually amazed at the responses in my patients who use acupuncture. I have treated multiple athletes who have sustained acute strains and sprains with acupuncture. They returned to exercise in almost half the time it normally takes. The beauty of acupuncture is that there are little, if any, potential side effects.

Acupuncture is also a great treatment for chronic musculoskeletal issues like tendonitis, bursitis and arthritis by improving energy flow over these inflamed regions. Again, the common treatment has been prescribing anti-inflammatory medication and, if that is not successful, steroid injections. These have serious potential side effects, including possible tendon rupture. With acupuncture, healing is facilitated without a medication which makes it a "natural" remedy.

Additionally, it should be noted that acupuncture can also be useful for energy replacement. This is a concept that is difficult to comprehend from a typical Western eye, but many Eastern medical therapies (such as acupuncture) are designed to reinvigorate an individual and help with excessive fatigue. As every athlete knows, it is imperative to have as much energy as possible to reach your peak performance.

It is important to note that an individual needs to be ruled out for obvious causes of fatigue such as anemia, uncontrolled blood sugar, and low thyroid or overtraining syndrome before using acupuncture for energy replacement.

Acupuncture may not be for everyone, especially those with a needle phobia. Consult your physician and consider acupuncture therapy for the treatment of the following injuries:

Acute strains and sprains
Acute and chronic arthritis
Tendonitis and bursitis
Low back pain
Low energy


Dr Sharyl Truty MD is board certified in Family Practice and Sports Medicine and has completed a physicians course at UCLA Helms Acupuncture Training and Certification as well as acupuncture training in China.  If you would like to schedule an appointment with Dr Sharyl Truty, please call 904.930.4774 and ask about the New Patient Special, 3 visits for $199, available at Balanced Physician Care.


Acupuncture: "Sticking it" to Injuries
By Stephen Brewer, MD, AAFP

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