21 Years Behind The Curve

21 Years Behind The Curve

This article is from 1998 talking about using CT scanning to look for arterial disease in seemingly healthy people. The article addresses the issue that a physician would not use high cost procedures to screen healthy people who may have risk factors. The CT scan the article talks about is non invasive, requires little time, and costs significantly less that more invasive procedures. At $350 to $500 ($550 to $787 in 2019 following inflation) a test they make the case that the cost of screening is well worth the cost if the person acts on the information and avoids major issues down the road.

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Mindfulness: Good for your brain and your heart

Mindfulness: Good for your brain and your heart

Stress management is an important component to a healthier lifestyle without the chronic diseases that have skyrocketed in our society. Just like the prevention plans for each of our patients, the best method for stress management is going to depend on the person. One of the tools to reduce stress and improve health is meditation. 

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A Cure for Chronic Disease?

A Cure for Chronic Disease?

The question then arose:  Are we CURING CHRONIC DISEASE?  Crossfit leadership, especially those involved in the Crossfit Health movement, had the audacity to introduce this idea.  Locally, my coach and collaborator, Mike Suhadolnik pushed the idea and told me we are curing chronic disease.  I learned of a Crossfit affiliate in Phoenix that put “We Cure Diabetes” on their sign marquee.  At first, I thought it was a bit too much to claim.  But they had the guts to say what they were seeing. 

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Longevity and Fasters expanding to CrossFit Edwardsville

Longevity and Fasters expanding to CrossFit Edwardsville

Over the weekend Dr Backs and Coach Mike had the opportunity to talk with a group at CrossFit Edwardsville about the Longevity program developed at CrossFit Instinct. The invite came from owners Greg and Caroline Skelly along with Coach Mark Donavon because they are going to be launching their own Longevity program for the Glen Carbon and Edwardsville area. 

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A Chance to Help Change the Dietary Guidelines

A Chance to Help Change the Dietary Guidelines

The U.S Department of Agriculture is accepting public comments for the 2020-2025 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans. They are accepting comments through March 30, 2018 so there is still time to send in your comments. 

To see the docket go to:


To see the full document:

Dietary Guidelines for Americans: Request for comments on Topics and Questions

To leave a comment go to:


Two of the issues of the many to be discussed are saturated fats and low-carbohyd

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Sugar and the American Diet by Karen Witter

Sugar and the American Diet by Karen Witter

Sugar and the American Diet

Karen A. Witter

February 24, 2018

Disclaimer:  This paper was written to share information with friends and colleagues about the harmful and addictive nature of sugar, which I learned more about through the Crossfit Instinct Longevity class in Springfield, IL. Books and web sites used as sources are listed at the end.  Some, but not all, are cited in the text. The paper was initially prepared for a verbal presentation to a small group of women and not intended for publication.

Early History of Sugar

Sugar has changed the world, and the history of sugar is not all sweet.  Its origins date back 10,000 years to New Guinea, which is located north of Australia, where sugar cane was first domesticated. Sugar cane reached the Asian mainland by 1000 BC. Indian alchemists discovered how to make a white powdered version of sugar by 500 BC. Sugar spread to the Middle East and then Europe, but it was initially only available to the wealthy.

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How does visceral fat lead to heart disease?

Type 2 Diabetes increases the risk of having arterial disease and heart attack.  You have probably seen ads for diabetes medication making that known.  The implication is that their medication lowers the risk of dying of heart attack.  But there is a deeper truth.

Before blood glucose rises, atherosclerosis is developing, and many have heart attacks before having high glucose.  The suspected mechanism is high insulin levels that compensate for insulin resistance.  Excessive visceral fat causes insulin resistance.  Insulin resistance inflames arteries leading to atherosclerosis.

If we rely on rising glucose or Hemoglobin A1c to diagnose insulin resistance, it will be identified later rather than sooner. 

The earliest indicator is abdominal obesity which we can measure as visceral fat using the InBody 570.  This measurement is noninvasive, quick and inexpensive.  It reveals details about your health that the scale can’t show.  http://www.thecenterforprevention.com/body-composition-analysis/

Once a baseline visceral fat level is measured, a plan to reduce fat is offered.  That plan is generally straightforward:  eliminate sugar, especially processed food.  Serial measurement shows progress away from becoming diabetic and atherosclerosis toward greater health and resilience. 

Of all the opportunities to reduce heart attack death and disability, reducing visceral fat is among the greatest.  Get yours measured.  Having high visceral fat is serious, but it isn’t as serious as a heart attack.

Heart Disease and Women

Women and men are different, including in the way we present with heart attacks.  Most of the classic symptoms of crushing chest discomfort, sweating, and shortness of breath with arm aching (which normally provoke an urgent response when present) may be completely absent in the woman having a heart attack.

Women are more likely to go undiagnosed and die with their heart attack because it goes unrecognized.

The more typical complaints have more in common with anxiety or panic attacks or just not feeling right.  They are all too easily dismissed as not life threatening.  If you have these symptoms and don’t know you are free of arterial disease, you should ask yourself or the doctor you are seeing:  “Could I be having a heart attack?”

That is why I believe it is even more important for asymptomatic women than men to be screened for arterial disease with carotid ultrasound looking for plaque.  These symptoms in a woman with known disease will be taken more seriously, while reassurance will be easier and more appropriate if screening reveals no disease. 

I have commonly had couples present to my office to have the male screened for arterial disease.  When we turn to the woman and convince them early detection and prevention are important for both, we often find more severe disease in the woman. 

It costs so little and is painless to be screened with carotid ultrasound with intima media thickness and plaque character focus.  It will detect disease far earlier than stress tests or even angiograms at a fraction of the cost and risk. 


Why do people resist testing for arterial disease?

After experiencing our care, many ask me “why would anyone not get this done?  It is easy, affordable and gave me information I did not have from my current care.”

Why, indeed.  Here are some reasons that come to mind and reasons to Choose Prevention:

·       Most of us are more reactive than proactive by nature.  Steve Covey’s First of 7 Habits is “Be Proactive.”  That suggests to me that this is a problem for many of us.

·       Denial.  This is the first reaction most people have to bad news.  “I don’t want to know.”  Women now routinely get their annual mammogram.  It is expected.  It took years to create this expectation.  The same needs to happen with early detection and management of arterial disease.  It will save more lives than mammograms.

·       Defensiveness.  When we are told “there might be a better way” we tend to hear “you aren’t doing the ‘right’ thing.”  Ego can keep us from learning about and implementing new approaches, even if they are more effective and cost less.  Those who provide the status quo feel threatened by change, especially if it threatens their livelihood or makes their current investment obsolete.

·       Fear of the consequences.  This is a legitimate concern.  “I had a positive coronary calcium score.  I was feeling fine.  That led to a stress test, then a cath and the next think I know I had bypass surgery!”  This is the story we want to avoid.  Identify the disease you have, but manage it to reverse it.  Avoid the trauma of intervention, disability or death.  Choose prevention.

·       Faith in Rescue.  “If I have a heart attack or stroke, technology is so good I will be saved.”  Like skydiving, we think the parachute will save us.  But what if it doesn’t open because we let someone else pack our chute?  We all must take responsibility for our own health.  Don’t count on a rescue.  You may not live long enough to get to the hospital and it may not work.  If it works, it will be a great story, but it will change your life and cost outrageous sums of money that will be somebody’s burden.  

·       Inadequate information.  Many don’t know that arterial disease can improve.  It can improve with personalized understanding of its root causes, effective lifestyle and medical treatment and measurements that show results.

Don’t let these or any other reasons prevent you from knowing all you can know to be healthier.  The Center for Prevention can help you, but first you have to Choose Prevention.

The Second Step of Process

The Healthy Business Prevention Program follows a 3 step process as we assess patients to determine their risk for heart disease or stroke.  The program is designed to:

For those patients who show onset of atherosclerosis, we move on to step 2, where we attempt to determine the causes of arterial disease.  We recognize that atherosclerosis can have many root causes, and by identifying the actual issues that might cause disease for each individual (rather than take a one size fits all approach), we are able to better treat the patient and prevent the onset of further disease. 


In this step, we perform several advanced lab tests, all based on blood draws, including reviewing the lipid panel, Apolipoprotein B, Lipoprotein(a), HbA1c (to detect diabetes and prediabetes), LpPLA2 ( to detect inflammation) and Vitamin D levels.  From these tests, we offer a consultation and make specific and individual recommendations.


We only administer follow up tests to those employees who have been identified as having a higher risk for heart attack or stroke.


Our goal is to save your human capital and preserve a healthy bottom line.

Learn More about our Healthy Business Prevention Program»The Process

Skip Your Next Heart Attack!

The month of February is national heart disease awareness month. At The Center for Prevention: Heart Attack and Stroke, we want you to know that you don't have to have a heart attack, or a stroke for that matter. No matter how high your risk, we implement the effective, evidence based strategies that go beyond the standard of care based on the Bale-Doneen method, outlined in the book Beat the Heart Attack Gene.

Beat The Heart Attack Gene, by Bradley Bale, MD and Amy Doneen, ARNP, allows a new understanding of prevention of heart disease. It gives readers materials to show their doctors and ensure personalized and unique care based on their needs and risk factors. The authors provide insight as to how their method could prevent a recurrence of heart attack or stroke by identification of what could be triggering the disease.

We encourage you to check out that book, as well as our website and come see us to have an assessment. Learn if you have arteriole disease, and then learn how to best avoid the consequences.

You don't have to have a heart attack, you can skip it! 

For Full Transcript Click Here

The First Step of The Process

The Healthy Business Prevention Program follows a 3 step process as we assess patients to determine their risk for heart disease or stroke.  The program is designed to:

  • Detect arterial disease
  • Identify causes of disease
  • Manage and monitor patient's outcome

Our first step is to detect arterial disease, also known as atherosclerosis.  We use the Carotid IMT, a quick non-invasive test which can be performed in our office or in yours.  The CIMT detects thickening of the arterial wall, a sign of atherosclerosis, which can typically be seen through imaging well before symptoms present themselves.

For a low fixed cost, companies can have us screen their employees to prevent issues before they arise! Companies who take advantage of the Healthy Business Prevention Program benefit from improved productivity and cost-savings for health insurance plans.

To learn more, please visit our website or contact us