Northwestern Memorial's Integrative Cardiology Combines Natural Therapies with New Scientific Advances to Prevent Heart Disease

The hospital’s Center for Integrative Medicine and Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute team up to provide a new approach to prevention of heart disease

The Center for Integrative Medicine and the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute of Northwestern Memorial Hospital have joined forces to offer a new approach to prevention of heart disease. This unique offering focuses on blending the best of alternative and new scientific advances toward prevention of heart disease. 

“There is growing public interest in maximizing nutritional and non-prescription approaches to prevention” says Stephen R. Devries, MD the preventive cardiologist tapped to launch this effort. “The problem is that there are very few credible sources for information to guide people to the most scientifically valid and effective alternative options. And just as important, people need to know when traditional approaches are most appropriate and when a combination of alternative and traditional therapies can produce the best results”.

Dr. Devries is a preventive cardiologist with unique training to bridge the gap between alternative and traditional approaches: his initial training was at the University of Michigan and Washington University-with additional training in Dr. Andrew Weil’s program for integrative medicine at the University of Arizona.

The exclusive focus of this work is on prevention. Rather than waiting for heart disease to erupt as an emergency, Dr. Devries believes that prevention is truly the best medicine. Patients most likely to benefit from this comprehensive evaluation include those with a known cholesterol problem as well as those with a family history of heart disease. Most are looking for a holistic approach and many have experienced adverse effects from previous treatment for cholesterol.

A typical evaluation includes a detailed lifestyle inventory and blood work for newly described blood metabolic risks that include but go beyond cholesterol, including markers of inflammation and inherited fats missed with standard cholesterol tests.

As a preventive cardiologist with training in integrative medicine, Dr. Devries is able to include the most scientifically valid nutritional strategies and supplements in his treatment plan, in addition to medication when appropriate. Recognizing the role of stress and anxiety in the development of heart disease, Dr. Devries often recommends breathing exercise, biofeedback, and other mind/body approaches.

“Patients are so happy when the natural route produces big results,” says Devries. “We know that heart disease is largely preventable and I believe we do much better by combining the best of natural and traditional methods than either one used alone”.

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