Heart disease might not always get the attention it deserves from the general public, but the numbers behind this epidemic can be staggering. According to the American Heart Association, one in three deaths in the United States is the result of heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular issues, and heart disease and stroke are the top two killers around the world.
Dr. Vic Bahal, a triple board-certified cardiologist and the owner of Advanced Cardiology of South Jersey, knows these facts all too well. That’s why he has committed himself to a relatively new methodology known as integrative cardiology to better serve his patients.
“You have to think outside of the box sometimes, because heart disease has killed many people over the years and the statistics indicate that heart disease is on the rise,” Dr. Bahal says. “We’re not doing everything we should in the field, but we’re seeing benefits from this approach.”
Integrative cardiology aims to reduce cardiovascular risk by focusing on nutrition and holistic concepts in addition to utilizing conventional medical methodology. Dr. Bahal and his team at Advanced Cardiology of South Jersey emphasize overall wellness, weight loss, lifestyle changes, exercise and hormone balancing, as well as the use of supplements and nutraceuticals.
He is one of the few doctors in the country to commit to these ideas and is also one of the few integrated cardiologists in New Jersey.
“We don’t just look at the cardiac issues,” he says. “We focus on symptoms, but we realize that there’s an interplay of all the body’s organs that affects cardiac health. So we attempt to integrate your diet, weight loss and balance your hormones, because all of these things affect cardiac wellness. By fixing some of these issues and customizing supplements to the patient’s needs, we have better outcomes in cardiac care.”
Dr. Bahal says the imbalance of the autonomic nervous system (which consists of the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems) plays a key role in cardiac disease. With the integrative approach, he attempts to balance the autonomic nervous system by custom tailoring certain nutraceuticals and supplements to fight and reverse inflammation, which is the root cause of cardiovascular disease.
Anti-inflammatory agents include supplements like fish oil, resveratrol, alpha lipoic acid, CO-Q10 and grape seed extract, as well as spices like cinnamon, turmeric, curry and ginger.
“These are a few examples of supplements that will reduce inflammation and fight heart disease,” he says. “This is not conventional cardiology teaching, but it’s important to recognize the foods you eat and the supplements you buy and understand their role in the inflammatory process.”
Dr. Bahal believes in educating his patients about their medical issues and provides a wealth of information on what to eat, how to exercise and how to relax. He also highly recommends yoga and meditation to reduce stress.
“Several studies have shown that emotional stress plays a big role in cardiovascular disease,” he says. “There are simple things you can do at home: deep breathing, meditation and relaxation techniques go a long way and they’re not in the form of a pill. Anybody can do it and it’s free. I do it myself.”
While he sees many doctors being quick to hand out prescriptions, Dr. Bahal has been able to significantly decrease medication in many cases. He also takes patient examinations a step further than most cardiologists.
“Most doctors check the lipid panel that consists of four things: total cholesterol, good cholesterol, bad cholesterol and triglyceride,” he says. “But there’s something called an advanced lipid panel that looks at things more in-depth. It looks at particle size and particle number, not just your values.
“Also, there are about 135 markers of cardiac disease, and not many people put an emphasis on that. We check for more cardiac disease markers than conventional doctors. That’s what separates our practice from other cardiology practices—we look a lot more in-depth at the root cause, which is inflammation.”
Because of his innovative methods, Dr. Bahal sees patients from all over the region. He is a firm believer in integrative cardiology and thinks it will only grow over time.
“We treat the patient as a whole,” he says. “We realize that everything we do in life affects our well-being, and we try to fix everything we can. Ultimately that leads to a healthy cardiovascular system.”
Advanced Cardiology of South Jersey
4 Burton Lane, Suite 100, Mullica Hill
Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family Magazine, Volume 7, Issue 8 (October, 2016).
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