Steven Masley, M.D. Gears Up to Prevent Cardiovascular Disease
"I think how we approach cardiovascular disease is just backwards," says Steven Masley, M.D. "We could prevent 90 percent of heart disease and we're not doing it—and that's a tragedy." If Dr. Masley's current whirlwind of activity is any indication, he's determined to avert that tragedy.
Dr. Masley's new book, "The 30-Day Heart Tune-Up," was released February 4th. He has taped a show that he expects 2-5 million people will see on PBS stations in March, with virtual certainty that the new book will reach the New York Times bestseller list at the same time. In addition to the book, over the next year he's publishing several scientific journal articles related to emerging lifestyle factors that predict carotid IMT arterial plaque scores, and emerging lifestyle factors that predict arterial plaque regression. He'll be presenting this data at the national American Heart Association meeting in March, as well as speaking at the 16th Clinical Applications for Age Management Medicine Conference in April. And he'll be spotlighted in 50-100 national media interviews during the first half of 2014. It could be said that Dr. Masley has launched a full-on one man attack on cardiovascular disease.
Dr. Masley's fundamental message is that while most doctors focus on lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, they are overlooking the real culprit: growth of arterial plaque. "With the old paradigm," he says, "we look at things like cholesterol, but the Number One cause of heart disease today is not cholesterol, it's metabolic syndrome." Studies now show that the dramatic increase in pre-diabetes, obesity, and the overuse of sugar and trans fat cause most heart disease. He contends that age management medicine is positioned to deal with the actual causes of heart disease. "In age management medicine, instead of using risk factor predictions, we're using plaque growth predictors," notes Dr. Masley. "In age management medicine we can measure plaque and know if it's growing, shrinking or staying the same. And here's the nice thing: in age management medicine, we're looking at the whole person, not just at the heart like a cardiologist, so there's overlap with everything else we do."
A Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Dr. Masley is President of Masley Optimal Health Center in St. Petersburg and teaches special programs at Eckerd College and the University of Tampa. His clinical practice has focused on age management medicine for over ten years, and his research focuses on the impact of lifestyle choices on aging, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, cognitive function, and weight control. His presentation at the Age Management Medicine Conference will, he says, feature new, cutting edge, breakthrough information. "Right now we're doing a study looking at 150 patients who've shrunk their plaque by 10 percent," he told us. "We'll be sharing those factors that predict plaque shrinkage in your patients. This is an ongoing study, and we will have the analyses done and be able to discuss them in April."
Dr. Masley says that his program allows everyone, regardless of size, genetics, gender, or age, to be treated for arterial plaque and prevent heart attacks and strokes. The keys to the program are shrinking arterial plaque, improving circulation, and strengthening the heartbeat using these tools:
- Heart-healing foods
- Exercise that strengthens the heart and arteries
- Stress management
- A customized heart-friendly supplement plan
The reasons for Dr. Masley's focus should be obvious: Cardiovascular disease remains the #1 cause of death in the western world, accounting for more than 34% of all deaths. "It's the Number One killer, the Number One disabler," he says, adding that lifestyle changes are more effective than cardiac procedures in preventing future cardiovascular events. He explains that new state-of-the art tests can show arterial plaque growth at a much earlier stage, and there are steps you can take to actually stop and reverse the growth. Dr. Masley will share data that he has submitted for publication related to his prospective cross-sectional analysis of more than 600 men and women. Of the traditional CVD risk factors, only systolic blood pressure, fasting glucose, body composition, and total cholesterol/HDL ratio have an inverse relationship with mean carotid IMT. "Physicians need to know the most effective and appropriate recommendations for exercise and fitness testing," says Dr. Masley. "What makes the biggest bang for your buck? We need to be more specific and focused. There are specific essential nutrients, some much more effective than others, and I will help pinpoint the most effective tools to use." Among these are exercise, nutritional recommendations, five new categories of heart healthy foods, and evidence-based heart-friendly supplement recommendations that can complement lipid, metabolic, hormonal, and blood pressure therapy to optimize clinical outcomes for cardiovascular disease. "Unfortunately, most physicians have had little if any formal training on these critical lifestyle recommendations," Dr. Masley points out. "This presentation aims to narrow this gap, by sharing new, innovative, and cutting-edge data and therapy options developed from ongoing research."
He likes to simplify the program by referring to what he calls "The Four F's": Fiber intake, aerobic Fitness, some body Fat, and Food nutrients. With experience as a highly-acclaimed chef himself, Dr. Masley seems particularly excited about the food portion of his program. "That's one more thing that is unique here," he boasts. "We're looking at 5 new food groups that improve cardiovascular health." The groups are:
- healthy fat
- lean protein
- specific beneficial beverages
- fabulous flavors
Dr. Masley is skeptical of the recently announced new guidelines for use of cholesterol-reducing statins. "They included women," he notes, "but there's no evidence that treating women with statins prevents heart attacks and strokes—and that's 50 percent of the population. This is a boon to the pharmaceutical industry, but not necessarily to patients." Statins treat some signs of heart disease, he contends, but not the most common cause of arterial plaque growth.
Of course, sexual function is always a prime patient concern, and Dr. Masley addresses that as well. "Cardiovascular health is the key predictor of sexual function—a key aspect of quality of life, whether a man or a woman," emphasizes Dr. Masley. "There's a whole chapter on this in 'The 30-Day Heart Tune-Up' with information that I've gotten by attending AMMG conferences. The same factors that influence plaque growth affect sexual function...and giving somebody Viagra doesn't help."
- Dr. Masley will present "Emerging Lifestyle Factors Predict Arterial Plaque Age and Arterial Plaque Regression" at the Age Management Medicine Conference in Orlando on Friday, April 25th. Find more details here.
- 30 Days to a Younger Heart with Dr. Steven Masley will air on PBS stations around the country during the first two weeks in March. Check local listings.
- Dr. Masley's new book, "The 30-Day Heart Tune-Up," is now available at Amazon and other booksellers.
Return to February 2014 e-Journal