After decades of progress in reducing deaths from cardiovascular disease (CVD), the leading killer of Americans, CVD fatalities are on the rise, particularly among people under age 55. Indeed, middle-aged adults are more likely to die from heart attacks, strokes and other CV events now than they were in 2011. This alarming trend has prompted experts from the Johns Hopkins Ciccarrone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease to issue a call for a new medical specialty to address the changing profile of patients with arterial disease. Compared to those of the past, today’s CVD victims are younger, more overweight, much less likely to be smokers and include more women and type 2 diabetics. Many of them are unaware of their risk.

To help save lives, hearts and brains, the BaleDoneen Method has pioneered a new evidence-based medical specialty called “Arteriology,” which is designed to optimize the health of the more than 60,000 miles of blood vessels in our bodies and help people avoid heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, kidney disease, erectile dysfunction, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and other chronic conditions. Here’s a look at how arteriology works — and how you can use our genetically guided, holistic approach to prevent and reverse arterial disease. We have been practicing Arteriology for nearly 20 years.

Why is a new medical specialty needed for patients with CVD?

In the call for a new medical specialty, published in the American Journal of Medicine, authors Drs. Robert Eckel and Michael Blaha report that the management of today’s heart patient is much more complex than in the past due to the epidemic of obesity, metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. All of these metabolic maladies greatly increase patients’ risk for developing CVD, yet often go undiagnosed and untreated.

In fact, as we recently reported, it is very common for people to be diagnosed with diabetes or prediabetes — conditions that collectively affect about 115 million Americans — shortly after they suffer a heart attack. Most Americans have never heard of metabolic syndrome or don’t know it’s a cluster of disorders that triple risk for heart attack and stroke and quadruple it for type 2 diabetes, a national health survey reported. And only 0.6% of those polled thought they had this prediabetic condition. In reality, it affects 26% of adults — nearly 50 million Americans.

Although the number of patients with cardiometabolic disorders is skyrocketing due to Americans’ increasingly unhealthy, sedentary lifestyle, Drs. Eckel and Blaha report that “nearly all cardiology practices are poorly suited” to manage the care of these patients. As a result, patients may be “shunted back and forth among cardiologist, endocrinologist and primary care physician — with uncertain ‘ownership’ of different aspects of the patient’s care.” In other words, the situation is like a football team without a quarterback.

What’s the best way to fix this dangerous gap in our healthcare system?

Despite major advances in the diagnosis and treatment of CVD, it remains the leading killer of Americans. On average, it claims 2,303 U.S. lives every day — one every 38 seconds. Yet this disease is both preventable and potentially reversible with optimal care. A recent peer-reviewed study by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Ciccarrone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease found that the BaleDoneen Method is remarkably effective at treating, halting and preventing arterial plaque.

The study, which included 324 patients from the Heart Attack & Stroke Prevention Center, found that our comprehensive, precision-medicine approach rapidly shrank the size of plaque deposits in the neck arteries by 52.7% over a two-year period. Our genetically guided method also significantly improved cholesterol levels and blood pressure and dramatically reduced lipid-rich arterial plaque (the most dangerous kind), helping patients avoid heart attacks and strokes.

An earlier peer-reviewed study also found that the BaleDoneen Method reduced plaque burden and had positive effects on levels of both cholesterol and inflammation, the dangerous duo that can lead to plaque buildup in the arteries and increased risk for cardiovascular events. Since the publication of these studies, we have advanced our method of heart attack, stroke and diabetes prevention by developing a groundbreaking new medical specialty called “arteriology,” which leverages the latest peer-reviewed science to optimize the health of all of the body’s arteries.

How does arteriology differ from cardiology and other medical specialties?

Drs. Eckel and Blaha have proposed a new subspecialty that they call “cardiometabolic medicine” that would combine internal medicine, cardiology and endocrinology to improve the care of patients who have both CVD and metabolic disorders, such as diabetes, insulin resistance (the root cause of 70% of heart attacks and almost all cases of type 2 diabetes) and obesity.

While we applaud this concept and the two doctors’ desire to provide more comprehensive care for those with cardiometabolic disease, we don’t think it goes far enough. CVD, which is also known as arterial disease, can manifest in a variety of ways that have traditionally been managed by diverse specialists, including neurologists for those who suffer a stroke, vascular surgeons for those with peripheral artery disease (PAD) and nephrologists for those with chronic kidney disease (a potential complication of high blood pressure). 

Arteriology has a more holistic focus, by transcending the various medical silos to encompass the total care of the patient with diseased arteries, since our blood vessels nourish every organ and tissue in our body. Arteriology also has another even more crucial goal: to prevent CVD. BaleDoneen practitioners have been called “disease detectives” because our comprehensive evaluation checks for a wide range of root causes that can lead to arterial disease if they go undiagnosed and untreated.

For example, a recent BaleDoneen study has been described as “landmark” in the media because it was the first to identify oral bacteria from periodontal (gum) disease as a new, treatable cause of CVD, not just a risk factor for developing it. This chronic oral infection affects about 50% of Americans over age 30 — and earlier research has shown that people with periodontal disease have double the risk for heart attacks and triple the risk for strokes as those with healthy gums. Other recent studies have linked chronic gum inflammation (periodontitis) to increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and several forms of cancer.

Based on this discovery, the BaleDoneen Method uses a team approach in which medical and dental providers work together to protect our patients’ oral and systemic health, bridging the traditional gap between medicine and dentistry. Arteriology also encompasses the work of many other healthcare specialties, including family physicians, functional and integrative medicine doctors, sleep specialists, psychologists, nutritionists, cardiologists, neurologists, geneticists and other specialists looking to incorporate personalized medicine and genetically guided treatment into their areas of practice.