Connecting Cardiovascular and Metabolic Health

Dr. Aaron Hartman

November 29, 2022


Cardiovascular and metabolic diseases are the number one killer in our country today. When most people think about cardiovascular disease (CVD), they don’t realize that CVD is actually a part of metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome includes high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, and diabetes. It might be surprising to hear that the following chronic issues are also part of metabolic syndrome:

  • PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome)
  • Osteoporosis
  • Sleep apnea
  • Gout
  • High triglycerides
  • Kidney stones



Connecting the Dots to Find a Root Cause

When I see a patient with high CVD risk or metabolic syndrome, I look for these other related issues to see if these are also part of their big picture. Part of my job as a functional medicine physician is to connect the dots in order to seek out the root cause.
For example…
I see many slender females with severe IBS symptoms and also osteoporosis, or thinning of the bones. Their gut issues are affecting their bones.
Kidney stones are also part of metabolic syndrome. Yeast overgrowth in the GI tract can cause oxalate secretion, which then affects the kidneys.
PCOS, which is traditionally in the realm of gynecologists, actually is an autoimmune spectrum disorder that has many auto-antibodies associated with it. Women with PCOS are more prone to inflammation of the GI tract and IBS, which is a prime setup for endometriosis, as well as fibroids and fibrocystic breast.
High blood pressure is a symptom, not a disease, and lives in the smallest arteries in your body, called arterioles. Inflammation at this level, which can be detected up by inflammatory markers like homocysteine and hsCRP, can then be leveraged to treat the person’s blood pressure.
Sleep apnea, which is very common, can play into cardiovascular and metabolic health as well because it can cause inflammation in all these organ systems at once. This inflammation can disrupt hormones and ultimately increase the risk for heart disease as well as dementia.
As we make these connections, we can see that gut health, in addition to hormonal health, can be an important leverage point with metabolic health.


Personalized Medicine

As a functional medicine practitioner, I look at each person as a whole. I consider all these different systems, the patient’s history, their background, and then apply an individualized, personalized approach to their healthcare.
The original pioneers in functional medicine, including Jeff Bland, referred to this as personalized medicine because we truly consider each individual. We look at the person as a whole, not just at a particular disease, and apply these tenets to leverage them in maximizing health.
If you’d like to learn more about functional medicine and cardiovascular health, we recommend you check out the reading list on our website.
Take care and be well.
Since 2010, Richmond Integrative and Functional Medicine has been helping people to restore their health and hope with an integrative approach to conventional and alternative medicine that’s entirely science-backed. We at RIFM believe everyone is made for health. We offer a comprehensive, in-person patient membership program to ensure you get access to the care you need to thrive.


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