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Dr. Mahfouz El Shahawy stands near one station of the 18-point test he hopes will lead to earlier cardiovascular-disease detection.
Sarasota Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013 4 years ago

Health symposium focuses on heart-disease prevention

by: Nick Friedman Managing Editor of Arts and Culture

Dr. Carolyn Dixon, an OB/GYN in Sarasota, knows the importance of preventative medicine. Her family has a strong history of heart disease. Because of this, she takes advantage of any opportunity to have her heart evaluated.

“I believe in being proactive,” she says. “I don’t just mean prevention, but pre-prevention. When I look at my age and my family history, it’s really important to me.”

When she heard about an 18-point, cardiovascular-disease screening test that was available locally, she was more than willing to give it a chance.

“When I saw the price, it was a deal I couldn’t refuse,” she says. “I went through it, and I was really impressed. I did pretty well, but my cholesterol was up. It gave me an incentive to improve.”

Dr. Mahfouz El Shahawy, medical director at the Cardiovascular Center of Sarasota, has been offering the test out of his office for one year. He says it was developed out of a need for more reliable screening methods. Until recently, the benchmark for cardiovascular-disease screening was the Framingham Test, which assessed factors such as cholesterol, blood pressure and lifestyle to provide a 10-year heart-disease risk assessment.

But, according to El Shahawy, this test was an inaccurate predictor, and it wasn’t taking advantage of the latest technology. Some people without any symptoms, and whose scores indicated no risk, would end up suffering from heart disease.

“The Framingham test provided a statistical correlation only,” he says. “The 18-point test is evidence-based. It offers objective findings and undeniable proof.”

Saturday, Feb. 2, El Shahawy is co-directing the ninth annual Cardiovascular Disease Assessment and Prevention Symposium, which will feature a faculty comprised of top cardiovascular-prevention experts.

“There will be a big emphasis on prevention,” says El Shahawy. “It’s been neglected for years. People are more than willing to get mammograms and colonoscopies, but heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women. I hope people will wake up and start giving more attention to the heart.”

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