Ever wonder where you are with your fitness status? Knowing you heart age can go a long way into assessing your fitness status. Doing so early in life, say your 40’s is probably best so you can do something about potentially bad results early with lifestyle modifications. However, 60 is the new 40, so finding out your heart fitness status is a good thing to do at any age.
What is heart age?
There are many risk factors that can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease and make your heart appear “aged”. There are also blood tests that can be used to evaluate this. Your heart age is essentially how fit your heart is compared to a fit and normal person at that age.
For instance, if you are 60 years old and you have a heart age of 80, then you have an increased risk of heart disease and an increased risk of having a coronary event, such as a heart attack, compared to others who have a normal heart age of 60.
How do I find out what my heart age is?
It’s easy to find out your heart age. All you have to do is a blood test and answer some questions about yourself. The blood test is called the PULS test. Basically, it is a battery of tests that have been shown to be predictive of whether you will have a coronary event within the next 5 years. Combined in an algorithm including your medical and family history and you get to know your heart age.
TrueMD offers patient the PULS blood test. We can draw your blood in the office and send the specimen to the lab for evaluation. You will fill out a questionnaire and all this data will be input into the test’s algorithm for evaluation of your heart age.
Why should I find out my heart age?
If your heart age is normal for your chronologic age in years, then you most likely are doing the right things to ensure your health. However, if it is older than your stated age, then you have a choice to improve the health of your cardiovascular system. In particular, you can improve the inside lining of your arteries, especially those of your heart. If you improve your heart health, you most likely will live longer and with better quality.
We all want to live longer, but we want to do so with quality. Improving your overall health and the health of the linings of your arteries can decrease your risk of developing heart disease, the number one killer of people. In addition, and many other chronic medical conditions a less likely to develop. All these can rob you of years from your life and disable you so the quality of your life is not as good.
How did they come up with this test?
The test has been developed over the last 20 years through highly reputable universities such as Stanford University and Kaiser Permanente in California. They evaluated hundreds of compounds and markers in the blood for their predictive value of heart health. They narrowed the list down to 9 different compounds that had the best predictive value when combined with risk factors in a benchmark algorithm format.
The algorithm was independently validated by the NIH NHLBI group in MESA which confirmed the findings to be valid. It carries a 98% accuracy (sensitivity) rate in its predictive value assessment of your heart health and the risk of you having a heart attack over the next 5 years.
What biomarkers are evaluated by the PULS test?
The PULS test evaluates a number of pathways responsible for free radical damage to the endothelium, which is the lining of every artery and capillary in your body. They evaluate inflammation and repair of this endothelium. Multiple biomarkers are required to adequately define the inflammatory process that may be happening.
As you age, if the linings of your blood vessels become inflamed, damage occurs to these that results in deposition of cholesterol and other lipids into the damaged areas (see photo). This can accumulate and become very inflamed and fragile. If they “pop”, the material can clog arteries. If this happens in the heart, a heart attack can happen.
The 98% sensitivity of the test can rather accurately predict when these inflammatory changes in the arteries might become unstable and prone to rupture over a 5-year period. If a rupture occurs when the vessel is in the heart, this could result in a heart attack, otherwise called acute coronary syndrome (ACS).
In an independent validation in MESA, the PULS test identified 61% of patients (when used in conjunction with lipid studies) who went on to have a cardiac event, and who would have been missed by established risk factors.
How does the PULS Cardiac Test compare with other heart tests?
The PULS Test is not intended to replace any current tests or diagnostic modalities, but can complement them characterizing your cardiac health assessment. Unlike traditional tests for Heart Disease, the PULS test can detect the early stages of endothelial injury, diagnose disease stage, and predict how likely you are to suffer an unstable cardiac lesion rupture in the heart, or a myocardial infarction.
It may also identify people who have silent damage to the coronary arteries. In other words, these are people who don’t have any signs of coronary artery disease such as chest pain, but do have some damage to the lining of their arteries but not to the point that it produces symptoms such as chest pain.
What can be done if the test is abnormal?
There are a lot of actions that you can do to get your body and heart in better health. A thorough evaluation and discussion of these are important. Testosterone therapy, lifestyle modifications, weight-loss, anti-inflammatories, supplements to improve the health of the endothelium (Arterosil, pycnogenol), and many more options may help. If you are interested in finding out about your heart health, schedule a consultation with us. Remember, health is a decision you make every day.
Where do I get this test done?
Our office is TrueMD, located in Colleyville, TX. It is easily accessible to everyone from the Dallas Fort Worth area as it is centrally located in the Mid Cities area, just south of Southlake, TX. Call us to make an appointment for the blood to be drawn for the PULS test. We can do other evaluation of your health status too, in addition to your hormone levels. Make an appointment for a consultation with our providers today.
 Cross DS, McCarty CA, Hytopoulos E, et al. Coronary risk assessment among intermediate risk patients using a clinical and biomarker based algorithm developed and validated in two population cohorts. Current Medical Research and Opinion, 28(11), Oct. 2012:1819-1830. https://doi.org/10.1185/03007995.2012.742878