As a Physician Assistant (PA-C), I’m trained to think and practice medicine like an MD. But I go way beyond what most MD’s do. Why? Because my approach can find and treat problems before they become diseases. All diseases and health problems have a sequence of underlying problems, which can be easily identified. This sequence includes treatable circulation problems that start in childhood. The sequence also includes physical problems (how much sleep you get, how you handle stress), infections, immune problems, genetic problems (that run in your family) and your nutritional intake (what you eat and drink)
Sports physicals are not designed to detect these problems, especially circulation problems, unless very advanced. A “sports physical” in most cases means a quick exam, review of vaccinations and vision check. Not much is found and certainly risks for common problems are not reviewed in depth.
Considering that circulation problems and heart disease are the #1 cause of suffering and death in America, a more thorough sports exam is recommended. Have you heard about athletes and men dying suddenly from heart disease? Here are some examples of recent events you may have read in local papers:
• A 41 year old state senator was found dead from heart disease
• A local dentist nearly died from irregular heart rhythm
• A 35 year old man was found dead from an enlarged heart
How did this happen? Why wasn’t this detected earlier? What’s causing this? Circulation problems start in childhood, are made worse by poor lifestyles (unhealthy food intake, soft drinks, insufficient sleep, excess weight) and are often exacerbated by excessive exercise. If you think that’s not so, consider a recent case I saw.
A 13 year old boy came in for a “sports physical”. Like most teens and young men, he denied any symptoms. Closer questioning revealed “burning in his chest” with running and soccer. His mother thought perhaps asthma but his electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) strongly indicated an enlarged heart. His lung test (spirometry) indicated obstructive problems (early COPD), not asthma. An echocardiogram (“echo” or cardiac ultrasound) confirmed an enlarged heart. We started cardiovascular supplements and his symptoms are improving. This boy has a typical teenage diet, which means nutritional problems (see below) and we are encouraging a more healthy lifestyle to treat and prevent circulation problems. This teen was truly at risk for a sudden cardiac event (clot, passing out, irregular heart beats, death, etc.) but we have started preventative medicine to protect him.
Why is heart disease occurring at younger ages? First, most practitioners do not ask thorough questions or consider the possibility a circulation problem can occur in young people. I am highly trained to find and treat circulation problems before they occur. Second, consider the research (outlined in “Kid’s Heart Health is Faulted” article) and then have your child, teen and family members evaluated thorough, which means an ECG, blood and lung tests. Here’s what current research says: “Kid’s Heart Health is Faulted” (Wall Street Journal 11/17/11). Studies funded by the Center for Disease control provided “a dismal picture of children’s cardiovascular health that suggests the current generation of teenagers could be at risk of increased heart disease.” I recommend you encourage teenagers and athletes to have a more thorough “sports physical” to find, treat or prevent cardiovascular problems.
David Overton, PA-C works at Natural Medicines & Family Practice combining conventional and alternative treatments under the supervision of Dr. Richard Faiola, MD, ABFM. 360-357-8054.