Welcome to my Lifestyle Longevity Program
LIVING LONG, LIVING WELL
Everyone hopes to have a long life ('Living Long') and experience a full and healthy life ('Living Well'). Wellness is a dynamic process that changes with age and is influenced by genetics, lifestyle habits and circumstance. Learning the current state of your wellness improves your knowledge base, helps you set goals and empowers you to make better choices for a longer and healthier life.
My goal: Give my patients an accurate picture of their physical wellness and an understanding of the role that cholesterol, inflammation, plaque and their genetics play in heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Further, understanding the importance of nutrition, weight control, exercise, smoking, stress, and blood pressure, is essential for an optimal quality of life and improved sense of well-being. With this foundation I can provide patients with a proactive lifestyle plan and continuing support that, if adapted, will have a dramatic effect on lowering their lifetime risks of having a future cardio-vascular event and to achieve their goal of "Living Long and Living Well."
Enjoy your journey as you scroll down my webpage, reading each of the articles.
Gordon C. Gunn, MD
After watching this short and informative video, 'Just a Little Heart Attack', featuring Elizabeth Banks, review all the articles below and learn how your actual risk for heart disease, stroke or diabetes can be accurately assessed and managed.
Wellness Programs are Not All Equal
My Lifestyle Longevity Program is probably unlike any other you may have previously experienced. One major difference is that I have been utilizing Doppler vascular ultrasound to diagnose atherosclerosis (arterial plaque) for 20 years. I have measured the location, amount and type of plaque of the carotid arteries in the neck (risk for stroke) in over 2000 patients. Non-invasive vascular ultrasound can establish two important landmarks: (1) the presence of disease (plaque) and (2) if plaque is present, a baseline for future comparison. This simple office procedure provides the ability to classify a patient as more accurately being high risk (plaque) or low risk (no plaque) for a future heart attack or stroke. This information properly identifies those patients who are high risk and determines their comprehensive lifestyle longevity program, which is similar to high-risk patients with established vascular disease (usually a prior heart attack or stroke).
My goal: prevent disease in individuals without evidence of plaque and when it is present, to stabilize its progression and potentially reverse and eliminate it. The use of Doppler vascular ultrasound over time provides me an insight as to the effectiveness of a patients lifestyle changes and their medical treatment program. In other words: How a patient is really doing?
Why is Plaque Important?
Plaque (atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries) is a disease in the wall of arteries. It is the cause of nearly all heart attacks and strokes. Plaque is an inflammatory disease of the walls of arteries. Cholesterol, circulating in the blood (transported by lipoproteins), is deposited in the lining of the artery walls, resulting in a buildup of plaque. Think of plaque as a pimple containing liquid fat (cholesterol) and is referred to as ‘soft’ plaque. The capsule covering the plaque may be thin (more susceptible to rupture) or thick (less susceptible). The body’s immune system can reverse the inflammation in the artery’s wall and deposit calcium making the plaque more stable (called ‘hard or calcified’ plaque).
However, without warning, the thin capsule covering of plaque can rupture allowing the fatty cholesterol deposits to escape causing a blood clot to form at the ruptured site. If the clot is large and closes off the entire artery, a heart attack or a stroke results and emergent medical attention is required to remove the clot, if possible. The size of the clot, its location within the artery and where it travels determines the severity of a stroke or heart attack, and whether or not it is fatal. Plaque can grow slowly, rapidly, or remain stable and never cause an event, unless it ruptures. What is now understood is plaque at any stage of narrowing (stenosis) can become unstable and the capsule can break or rupture. In other words, it is NOT the plaque clogging the arterial pipe that is the primary cause of an event; it is the rupture of the plaque capsule.
The good news is that the inflammatory process of atherosclerosis formation is potentially reversible and even preventable! The KEY: identifying those patients who do not know they have disease (plaque) BEFORE they ever have a cardio-vascular (C-V) event and enrolling all persons who are at risk in a comprehensive prevention program.
Remember: the majority of heart attacks and strokes occur in individuals with only mild plaque in their arteries and have or had a normal total cholesterol panel.
Preventing a Future Heart Attack or Stroke
My cardiovascular and diabetes prevention recommendations are based on a patients’ actual risk. Risk classifications have been created by various heart associations and are an educated guess based on personal and family health histories and a basic cholesterol panel. Personal risk factors include age, current smoker, high blood pressure, waist measurement, diabetes, low HDL-C, high LDL-C, high triglyceride. Family history of early heart attacks and stroke and genetics are known risks. High-Risk includes anyone that has had a prior heart attack or stroke or meets certain calculated criteria. Low-Risk patients frequently have ’normal’ cholesterol levels and no risk factors. Yet low-risk people still have heart attacks and strokes. How many times have you heard about someone who is the epitome of ‘good’ health, exercises regularly, eats right, doesn’t smoke, etc. and has a sudden heart attack. How can that happen? Answer: previously unknown and untreated plaque in an artery suddenly ruptures without warning.
Recommendations for reducing future risk of a heart attack or stroke are generally referred to as either Primary or Secondary. Secondary Prevention (after surviving an event) recommendations are for high-risk patients and are generally treated more aggressively. Primary Prevention is recommended for low-risk patients and are generally less ‘aggressive’. All patients, however, are encouraged to eat healthy, lose weight (if not at an optimal BMI), exercise regularly, not to smoke, monitor their blood pressure and learn to manage stress with mindful meditation. All these risk factors (except genetics) can be successfully modified to reduce risk, if and when education, motivation, lifestyle planning and coaching are provided. The problem with this dual standard of care is the fact that nearly 50% of patients who have their first heart attack or stoke are in the low risk category.
Plaque is NOT normal! Patients who have been diagnosed with mild atherosclerosis (plaque) in their arteries on ultrasound scans are frequently told that 'plaque is normal as they age' and 'not to worry', unless it is causes a partial blockage of blood flow (to the brain or heart). Reports from mobile vascular ultrasound screening services state, "mild plaque is normal".
Role of Boston Heart Diagnostics
After reading my articles below, click on this 'Boston Heart Diagnostics' link, and click on the 'Patient' tab and explore the dropdown menu to learn more:
www.BostonHeartDiagnostics.com (Select: 'Patients' Tab)
Understanding Heart Disease
Cholesterol's Role in Cardiovascular Disease
LDL-Cholesterol (LDL-C), often called "bad cholesterol," can build up in the walls of blood vessels supplying your heart and slow or block the flow of blood, increasing your risk of developing heart disease and possibly cause a heart attack. However, not all LDL is 'bad'. It is the 'small size' particles and 'small dense' particles of LDL that deposit cholesterol in walls of arteries promoting the formation of plaque. Treatment, including drug and supplement therapy and lifestyle changes, is aimed at lowering small and small dense LDL-C particles and raising your large alpha HDL-C particles (see Boston Heart HDL Map Test discussed below).
Traditional Lipid Testing Does Not Tell the Whole Story
Clinical trials have shown that lowering the total LDL cholesterol reduces the risk for a cardiovascular event by only 25-30% on average, meaning that standard therapy fails to address 75% of a patient's remaining or residual risk for cardiovascular events.
Additionally, hospital admission data indicates that at least half the people who’ve had a heart attack had "normal" cholesterol levels. This "silent killer" of 50% of patients who die suddenly from a heart attack had normal cholesterol. What is wrong with this picture? There is so much more information available to be learned about a patient that can correct this statistic. Read on.
Assessing Your Risk
First, Boston Heart Diagnostics has developed two unique tests - the Boston Heart HDL Map and the Boston Heart Cholesterol Balance Test - to uncover specific and important information about your cholesterol that offers more insight than a standard lipid panel. These special tests, along with a panel of diagnostic and genetic tests, give me guidance to help you better understand your individual risk factors and to design a personalized program of recommendations that will help you prevent, manage and potentially reverse cardiovascular disease.
Boston Heart HDL Map Test
HDL-C, the "good cholesterol," helps remove LDL-C from your blood vessels. It carries this "bad cholesterol" to the liver, where it passes out of the body. However, it is only the large alpha-1 and alpha-2 HDL particles that are protective. The smaller HDL particles are actually not healthy.
If your basic lipid panel, which only measures the total cholesterol amounts, including HDL, is normal, the Boston Heart HDL Map Test can identify if you are at risk, enabling appropriate treatment. You want as much of the large alpha-1 and alpha-2 HDL protective particles as your body can produce.
Boston Heart Cholesterol Balance Test
The Boston Heart Cholesterol Balance test is the only laboratory test that can identify and measure the balance between cholesterol production (from your liver) and absorption (from your intestines). This information provides me the ability to target the right dietary changes and cholesterol-lowering recommendations at the beginning of your treatment.
Getting Heart Healthy
Boston Heart Lifestyle Program
The Boston Heart Lifestyle Program is different from others you might have seen or tried. With Boston Heart, you get personalized recommendations for improving your daily habits, which are linked to proven scientific research into how to improve heart health. Additionally, you get the support of trained, caring coaches, who are Registered Dietitians and will help you get going—and keep going—toward your goals.
You benefit from two combined approaches:
- Boston Heart Diagnostic Report gives you new insights into your heart risks. Your Diagnostic Report is written in clear, easy-to-understand language, with colorful graphics that help you understand your risks and take action to improve your health. You can feel confident that you have the most in-depth information about the risks you face, as well as my scientifically tested recommendations for "getting to green" and moving from a high risk to a low risk lifestyle.
- Boston Heart Life Plan combines personalized nutrition guidelines with dedicated coaching to help you adopt new habits to lower your heart risks and improve your health. Your Life Plan is created when you create your own online personal Boston Heart Account. It includes all your lab results (found in your Diagnostic Report) and your answers to a brief questionnaire. Your Boston Heart Life Plan recommendations are based upon information and insights gained through extensive research and clinical successes in reversing disease combined with your own personal preferences. When followed, the goal is to move you "into the green" and to help you achieve your personal health goals.
Your Boston Heart Life Plan also creates personal goals – for calories, food types and portions, and exercise based on your specific heart disease risks. It generates healthy menu plans – using an exclusive algorithm that formulates nutritional food options.
Changing your eating and exercising habits can be a challenge. That's why the Boston Heart Lifestyle Program connects you directly with a coach, a specially trained Registered Dietitian (found by clicking on the My Coach icon within your personal account) who will hold you accountable and inspire you to follow through with healthier habits that can reduce your heart risk. You are also provided with easy-to-use, online resources to track your progress (called the 'Lose-It' Program'). You will have secure access to your Diagnostic Report, Life Plan and Lose-It Program for data entry and easy tracking - any time, any place.
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Gordon C Gunn, M.D., F.A.C.O.G.
After earning my undergraduate education at both UCLA and USC, I received my medical degree from Baylor University College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. After completing my residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the UCLA Center for Health Sciences and City of Hope, I proudly served in the U.S. Air Force as the principle gynecology oncologist at Andrews Air Force Base in Washington, DC. During my tenure, I promoted the development of a new surgical technique that later became known as 'laparoscopy', a procedure that has revolutionized most surgical specialties today.
After completing my Air Force tour of duty, I moved to Fullerton in 1971 to establish my private obstetrics and gynecology practice. In 1986, I transitioned my practice to focus on developing a program dedicated to gynecology and comprehensive evaluation and treatment of the many issues in women's health care, including bio-identical hormone replacement therapy for women.
My interest in cardio-vascular disease dates back to college when I was first introduced to vascular research. In medical school, I had the opportunity to train under the most prestigious cardiologists and vascular surgeons in the world. The primary health risks for women in the United States is heart disease and stroke. 20 years ago, I introduced a wellness program to my patients based on vascular ultrasound to diagnosis and monitor actual cardio-vascular disease. Using advanced lipid testing my program combined with a life-style program (based on nutrition, exercise and stress management), I have stopped and reversed disease in my patients, preventing heart attacks and strokes. Success has grown into a passion for the prevention of heart disease, stroke and diabetes, and continues to give me the opportunity to make a difference.
I am currently giving lectures to both medical and women’s groups in the Western United States on “Cardio-Vascular Disease Risks in Women” and the importance and safety of “Hormone Replacement Therapy”.
My certifications include: American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Accreditation Council for Gynecologic Endoscopy, Inc. and a Fellow of the American College of Obstetricians/Gynecologists. I am also a member in a variety of professional organizations, including American Medical Association, American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists, Internal Federation of Gynecologic Endoscopists, American Urogynecology Association, International Continence Society and the National Lipid Association.
Away from my medical practice, I can be found leading an active lifestyle and enjoying nature through my photographic lens. I, and my wife, Andrea, have four grown children and four wonderful grandchildren. Together, we enjoy the gifts that each day brings.
100 East Valencia Mesa Dr., Suite 215
Val Mesa Medical Building
Fullerton, California 92835