A Better Way to Detect Heart Disease

By Maylin Rodriguez-Paez

Most of us know that heart disease is America’s number one killer of men and women, but many don’t even know they have heart disease until it’s too late. Although warning signs like chest pain can occur, heart disease for the most part is silent.

Getting to the Heart of It

Stress tests and angiograms can help detect heart disease, but these procedures, although important, come with their own set of risks. Fortunately, there IS an easier, less risky way to screen for heart disease.

Most heart attacks are caused when a fragment of plaque (a buildup of lipid-containing material in the arterial walls) dislodges into an artery and impedes blood flow to the heart. This causes heart tissue to die — hence the term myocardial infarction. This is more likely to occur when plaques are unstable. Thankfully, an innovative blood test called a PLAC® test can measure plaque stability.1

Unstable plaques release lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 (Lp-PLA2), an enzyme which can be measured in the blood. High levels of this enzyme are associated with arterial inflammation and may signal an impending heart attack or stroke. The PLAC test measures this enzyme too.

Several studies show that people with high levels of lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 (Lp-PLA2) have about two to three times the risk for acute cardiovascular events.1-3 This increased risk is independent of traditional cardiovascular risk factors, like elevated cholesterol and C-reactive protein.

So Your PLAC Test Levels are Elevated … Now What?

Very few people are aware of a procedure called EECP® (enhanced external counterpulsation). EECP is a viable alternative to stents and is covered by Medicare. It is a low risk, non-invasive, outpatient procedure that is FDA-approved. It’s like exercise without all the physical exertion.

During an EECP session, cuffs are wrapped around your legs and inflated and deflated to your heart’s rhythm. This forces blood to your heart and makes it easier for your heart to do its job. Each session lasts about one hour.

Research shows it takes a comprehensive approach to combat heart disease, and EECP by itself can modify several risk factors. This is how EECP can help to decrease your risk of a serious adverse effect from heart disease:

  1. EECP reduces arterial stiffness and blood pressure.4,5 EECP makes arteries more flexible. Stiff arteries lead to increased blood pressure, which increases the risk for heart attack and stroke.

  2. EECP improves nitric oxide availability.6 Nitric oxide dilates blood vessels and increases circulation. Angina (chest pain) is caused when blood vessels constrict. Interestingly, patients who undergo EECP therapy report less chest pain and rely less on angina drugs (nitrates).

  3. EECP enhances glucose tolerance.6 Sub-optimal glucose levels play a role in the development of cardiovascular disease.

  4. Oxidized lipids accumulate in arterial walls and lead to plaque development. Cholesterol isn’t dangerous until it’s oxidized; EECP decreases measures of lipid peroxidation.6

  5. Amazingly, the heart has the ability to grow blood vessels when certain coronary blood vessels are blocked. It’s a protective mechanism the body has developed to prevent heart attacks. EECP enhances coronary collateral circulation — alternate pathways by which blood can reach the heart muscle.7

EECP Offers Additional Benefits

Some of the other benefits of EECP include increasing exercise tolerance, improving symptoms of heart failure, alleviating peripheral vascular disease, restless leg syndrome, peripheral neuropathy,8-10 and even erectile dysfunction.11

More and more conventional doctors are taking a closer look at the benefits of EECP. Maybe you should too. Vasomedical is a one-stop-shop for everything EECP, including centers around the country that provide it. Give it a look!


  1. Am J Cardiol. 2008 Jun 16;101(12A):3F-10F.
  2. Am J Cardiol. 2008 Jun 16;101(12A):23F-33F.
  3. Am J Cardiol. 2008 Jun 16;101(12A):41F-50F.
  4. Am J Cardiol. 2011 May 15;107(10):1466-72.
  5. Blood Press. 2010 Oct;19(5):287-94.
  6. J Appl Physiol. 2011 Dec 22.
  7. Hamostaseologie. 2007 Dec;27(5):363-72.
  8. Sleep Med. 2005 Mar;6(2):101-6.
  9. Braverman D. Heal Your Heart with EECP —The First Comprehensive Guide to Enhanced External Counterpulsation. Berkeley, CA: Celestial Arts; 2005.
  10. WV Med J. 2007 May;103(3):10-2.
  11. Int J Clin Pract. 2007 May;61(5):757-62.
PLAC® is a registered trademark of diaDexus, Inc.

EECP® is a registered trademark of Vasomedical, Inc.


Unknown said...

I just recently got blood work done and on my results I see Lp-PLA but not Lp-PLA2. Are they the same thing?

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