When it comes to health care, prevention is essential, but not enough medical providers are focusing on it. Integrative cardiologist Dr. Vic Bahal, founder of Advanced Cardiology of South Jersey, believes in identifying risks and addressing them before they cause damage in patients.
In the matter of heart disease, inflammation is the No. 1 culprit.
“Research has shown inflammation is the root cause of heart and vascular disease,” says Dr. Bahal. “Inflammation creates plaque production in arteries, and if they rupture, could cause a heart attack or stroke. Plaque doesn’t discriminate. It can form on the artery going to your brain, legs, aorta, etc. Once there is enough, it ruptures.”
Common causes of inflammation are obesity, artificial flavors and sweeteners, stress levels, unhealthy diet, smoking and genetics to some degree, to name a few.
Dr. Bahal is the only cardiologist in South Jersey offering Endothelial Function Testing, a
15-minute noninvasive test to identify damage from chronic inflammation. From there, he approaches treatment with Integrative Cardiology, a revolutionary treatment concept that combines conventional medicine, coupled with nutraceuticals and supplements, along with lifestyle modifications and other wellness practices such as meditation, yoga and even hormone balancing.
Each patient is guided through an individualized treatment plan. Supplements are a core component, he says. Quintuple board-certified in Internal Medicine, Cardiology, Vascular Medicine, Anti-Aging/Functional/Regenerative Medicine and Integrative Cardiology, Dr. Bahal says that cardiologists need to be more attentive regarding the avenues of risk factors. He has learned so much about how different supplements can be applied to treat different ailments not just for the heart, but in the whole body.
“Supplements such as CoQ10, combined with LCarnitine (an amino acid), fish oil, Berberine, Alpha Lipoic Acid and vitamin D help reduce inflammation,” Dr. Bahal says. “This is not like walking into a supplement store or just ordering at random online. Patients need to go to someone who understands the nutraceutical benefits and purity of supplements. The regimen is medically
supervised by me and customized for each individual.”
Weight loss and proper nutrition are also incorporated into the treatment plan. Dr. Bahal
recommends the Mediterranean diet and a BMI under 25. For over 14 years, Advanced Cardiology of South Jersey has run a successful weight loss program that has helped thousands of people. “Obesity is as much of a pandemic as COVID has been. Excess fat is toxic and creates cytokines which produce inflammation,” he says. “Along with whole grains and fruits, I also recommend spices like cumin, black pepper, onions, cayenne and garlic for their anti-inflammatory benefits.”
In many cases, hormone balancing and probiotics will be used as well. “About 70% of your immune system is in your gut. Reducing inflammation—viruses, bacteria, fungi—in the gut has a key cardiovascular benefit and we routinely use probiotics to balance it,” Dr. Bahal states.
In the wake of the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), information is coming to light about the impact of the virus on the heart. Dr. Bahal says inflammation in the heart has been found in up to 60% of subjects who survived COVID-19.
“For those who recovered from COVID, their heart has taken a hit at the molecular level. Their heart may be inflamed and they should act quickly to take steps to reduce it,” he says.
Ideally, no one should wait. “Early prevention is key. Some may be showing symptoms
including chest pain or shortness of breath, others may have no symptoms at all. An EKG can be an important tool in diagnosing inflammation and leading us to implement these elements discussed,” says Dr. Bahal.
“We have to look beyond conventional methods that focus on prescriptions and surgery after the damage is done. We have to address and reduce inflammation as soon as possible to keep heart and vascular disease at bay.”
Advanced Cardiology of South Jersey
4 Burton Lane, Suite 100 | Mullica Hill | (856) 241-3838 | AdvancedCardiologySJ.com
Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 2 (May 2021).
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