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Have you or a family member been blindsided by a sudden heart attack or stroke?

We often feel like we’re healthy if we’ve had routine labs checked as part of our annual physical.  What we may not know is there are risk factors that are “under the radar” and can cause serious problems. Fortunately, there are tests to determine if these hidden risk factors are of concern for increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

Lipoprotein a (Lp a) is a special type of cholesterol particle that is genetic.  It is not routinely tested.  This accounts for a good percentage of heart attack and stroke risk that goes undetected.  Although statins have been used in high risk people to help with high cholesterol and inflammation, statins do not lower lipoprotein a.

Metabolic screen for prediabetes, including metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance can be important for determining risk. A very high percentage of people have blood sugar problems and don’t know it. Even a normal hemoglobin A1c can underestimate the risk.  Fasting insulin levels and a glucose tolerance test can help.

Hidden Inflammation is a major root cause of many chronic illnesses.  Even if your cholesterol is in the normal range, if you have high inflammation you can still have an event. Testing for hsCrp is helpful, but to look for additional hidden inflammation LpPLA2 and MPO can test for a “body on fire”.  

Get pictures of your arteries. If you don’t know what your arteries look like, then you don’t know your true risk.If you do an ultrasound evaluation of the carotid arteries (CIMT), this will help you know more about your risk.  A stress test only picks up tight blockages and a heart attack can occur even from a 30-40% blockage.

For more information you can contact our office at 517-324-9400 or visit our website . You can also check out these additional resources:

“Beat the Heart Attack Gene”, Drs. Bradley Bale and Any Doneen

“What your doctor may not tell you about heart disease”, Dr. Mark Houston

“Clean”, Dr. Alejandro Junger

“Wheat belly”, Dr. William Davis

“Plant Paradox”, Dr. Steven Gundry

Dr. Alicia Williams is a Board Certified Cardiologist specializing in Integrative Cardiology. For more information visit our website.

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What is CIMT and should I have it done?

Carotid Intima Media Thickness (CIMT) is a measurement of the thickness of the wall of the carotid artery, the artery in the neck that feeds blood to the brain.  CIMT is an advanced ultrasound test which is safe and non-invasive.

CIMT gives us important information regarding the risk for heart disease and stroke. The test measures the thickness of the inner two layers of the carotid artery—the intima and media. Even before plaque forms and narrows the arteries, the artery can be injured or stressed by increased blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol along with many other risk factors. The more severe the thickness of the layers, the higher the risk for future events.  The test can also detect plaque build-up in the walls of the artery (fatty deposits and calcium) which is even more important. When there is thickness or plaque in one artery it can be happening in other arteries also. This is the start of ATHEROSCLEROSIS or hardening of the arteries. This can be happening even without any warning sign.

It can be scary to uncover something in our arteries that could signal future heart disease or stroke. The good news is that early detection gives you a chance to make important changes, guided by your healthcare provider, to reduce or reverse your risk. The goal is to detect problems early and get the proper help to prevent and reverse any damage.

CIMT is a well-studied ultrasound test to help detect pre-clinical vascular disease. With improvements in technology, it has become possible to reproduce measurements and provide a safe, non-invasive and cost-effective way to track vascular health over time.


The traditional heart risk factors of blood pressure, diabetes or pre-diabetes, high cholesterol and tobacco can still misidentify your risk. Especially if you have a family history of premature artery disease such as heart attack, peripheral vascular disease or stroke.

Health challenges such as obesity, sleep apnea, hormone imbalance (including thyroid), autoimmune disease, toxins, stress, steroid use and depression can all increase heart and stroke risk. If you had high blood pressure or blood sugar problems during pregnancy, you would benefit from monitoring your risk factors closely to reduce future risk. Also, men with erectile dysfunction should consider checking their vascular health with CIMT.

Some additional cardiac health factors to consider:

  •                 How healthy is your diet?
  •                 Do you exercise regularly?
  •                Is your body at a healthy weight and body composition?
  •                 Are you stressed?
  •                 Do you snore?
  •                 Are your teeth and gums healthy?


• Discuss the results with your health care provide. This is very important so your personal medical condition can be considered.

• Tracking blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol are critical. There are also advanced blood tests that can help uncover special risk factors

• Lifestyle factors can greatly impact your heart health. While lifestyle improvements will not create instant change there are many things you can do to reduce risk in the long term. Eliminating any tobacco use is critical.

If you are interested in a unique cardiac screening we offer several options to help reduce risk factors as well as educate and empower you to be at your healthiest.

For more information or to schedule a CIMT contact our office at 517-324-9400 or visit our website.

Dr. Alicia Williams is a Board Certified Cardiologist specializing in Integrative Cardiology.

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Are you tired more than you would like to be?

I hear this often from many patients that come to see me. Many times they are worried and also ask, “Is my heart okay?” The Human heart beats around 100,000 times in a single day. So, if someone lives up to 70 years, his or her heart will beat for 2.5 billion times. The heart pumps the blood and sends it to different tissues and organs in our body through 60,000 miles of blood vessels! The heart supplies itself its own blood supply. When the heart pumps it fills the arteries that surround the heart called the coronary arteries. That alone is enough to make you tired. Our heart requires a large amount of energy and if we do not provide our bodies enough healthy fuel, we run the risk of heart disease. If we at least supply the body some basic requirements we can make a big difference in heart health. Dr. Dean Ornish, a leader in Preventative Cardiology, outlines basic requirements that appear to be critical for preventing and reversing heart disease. More vegetables, stress reduction, increased movement, quit smoking, and LOVE MORE are at the core of his reversal of heart disease program. If you have concerns about your heart risk we can help you. You want your heart to be strong and happy and so do we!

Dr. Alicia Williams is a Board Certified Cardiologist specializing in Integrative Cardiology. For more information visit our website.