A Health & Wellbeing Interview with Health Expert Dr. Comite [Podcast]
Heart disease is still the number one killer in America, claiming 610000 lives per year. Precision Medicine Doctor Florence Comite talks about heart disease and some early signs to take into consideration.
Florence Comite on Heart Disease and Erections
Dr. Florence Comite is an endocrinologist and founder of the Comite Center for Precision Medicine and Health in New York City and the personalized health app, Groq Health. She also wrote the bestseller, Keep It Up! Connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.
What Is Heart Disease?
Heart disease can refer to several conditions, including heart failure, arrhythmia, and heart attack. We’re probably all familiar with some of the general risks like eating red meat and not exercising.
What Risk Factors Are We Missing?
The risk factor mentioned so far is all about a one-size-fits-all approach and doesn’t pinpoint the lesser-known signs of heart disease. It doesn’t address how to accurately predict, detect, or reverse factors unique to each individual. That’s what we’re missing.
We all know individuals who take a lot of risks like not exercising and eating a poor diet, yet go on to live very long lives. Vital information about personal health risks and the right interventions can prevent heart disease.
We can learn years in advance what it means for us individually to avoid heart disease.
The First Indication of Heart Disease May Be Weak Erections. Can You Tell Us More About That?
The coronary arteries supply the heart with blood. The arteries that supply the penis (pudendal arteries) are now about a quarter of the size of the coronary arteries.
If the pudendal arteries become blocked by plaque due to inflammation, cholesterol, or diabetes, blood flow decreases and causes weaker erections. And, that can happen decades before a heart attack.
Issues in the small arteries are an early predictor of plaque build-up in the larger arteries of the heart. It’s a symptom of cardiac disease we should take into consideration.
It can happen as early as the 30s, and we’ve all heard of men who experience heart attacks in their 30s. If your partner is experiencing weak erections, bring it to your primary physician’s attention.
If a Guy Goes to His GP and Says He’s Experiencing Weaker Erections, What Happens Next?
We want to help him improve his erections, but more valuable than perhaps addressing the symptoms is looking at the cause of the symptoms. And that is what precision medicine and health is all about.
Beyond a cholesterol test, whether you’re experiencing weaker erections or not, men and women should have testosterone measured as part of a comprehensive blood test yearly. Many doctors check hormone levels but miss a few key biomarkers such as free testosterone, which is directly related to the heart.
You exercise to strengthen the muscles in your body, and one of them is the heart. Free testosterone is different from total testosterone, which is bound up by proteins and insignificant because it’s not available to act on muscles.
Precision analysis of hormones, metabolism, lifestyle, and family history can give us a good picture of how we can precisely intervene to address not just erection but total health. If the men in your family seem to have heart disease early or even the women, measure free testosterone and a few other relevant biomarkers.
Does Your GP Necessarily Test for Testosterone, or Do You Have to Ask for It?
It’s not a routine test, and you’ll have to ask for it. Your GP might test total testosterone but not free testosterone. For women, a gynecologist might check for it, but you should specify that you want a free testosterone test. Or ask your urologist or primary care physician.
You’ve mentioned vitamin B may trend low, and women might be on birth control, what does this mean for women?
Low vitamin B levels are not uncommon. A common genetic mutation often causes it, a small variant in a gene make-up called an MTHFR gene. It inhibits metabolizing B vitamins and can increase the risk of heart attack and deep vein thrombosis.
What is deep vein thrombosis? Deep vein thrombosis is a clot in an artery. It can cause emboli, or blockages, to the lungs and the brain.
Everything depends on gene-environment interaction, but low vitamin B levels can be a sign that the body needs extra support, despite taking a supplement and eating a healthy diet.
Certain birth control pills can increase the risk of a blood clot. For somebody who’s already compromised, it can further increase risk. Glucophage uses up vitamin B, so knowing your vitamin B levels is crucial.
Ask your doctor for an MTHFR screen.
Are Methylated B Vitamins Available Over-The-Counter, or Are They Prescription Medicine?
You can get a B vitamin prescription, but insurance doesn’t always cover it, and you might have to pay out-of-pocket.
To start, get a full blood screen, including B vitamins, like folate and B12, and also an MTHFR screen. Then look at previous blood tests. If the vitamin B’s have always run low, an MTHFR mutation will confirm that you need this extra help metabolizing B vitamins.
I want to point out that a regular CBC, or complete blood count, has a few other indices. Those indices point out whether you have abnormal red blood cells and can indirectly point to whether you B’s are low.
I strongly advise men and women to get this full blood screen, beginning in their 20s, if they’re taking metformin, birth control, or have a family history of heart disease. These are helpful tests that belong in a precise approach to health.
At Your Center, You See Men and Women in Top Shape Yet, Beneath the Surface, There Is Heart Disease Brewing. Please Tell Us a Bit More.
There’s a good reason why we hear stories of marathon runners dropping dead of a heart attack. If you exercise and eat right, or if your cholesterol is under control, you might think you’re not at risk for heart disease. But, if we look beneath the surface, we’re finding biomarkers.
We start by examining the family history and asking a lot of questions to figure out what’s beneath the surface. Before we even look at blood work, a thorough family history analysis can reveal an individual’s health trajectory. Many doctors will overlook the need to look closely at the lipid panel of someone that looks fit, and that’s why we here awful stories of marathon runners dropping dead of a heart attack.
We can change your health trajectory by making small changes to your lifestyle, but we need to get the biomarkers first. Explore your family history to find out genes you carry and how those genes might express themselves.
You’ve Mentioned Earlier That Insurance May Not Cover These Extras. Is It Worth Paying out of Pocket to Find This Out?
It’s too late when it’s too late, and I think we have to decide whether investing in our health makes a difference.
I know I’m biased, but I’ll rather keep my health. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to tackle diseases before it becomes an issue? To preserve our health and enjoy all those activities that we love to do?
What are your thoughts on heart disease and preventative medicine? Let us know in the comment section!