Oct 20

Vascular Improvement for Performance in Sports

Doctor Alexander Castellanos has been practicing in sunny Templeton for over twenty years. His office, located in this quaint little town’s TimeSquare, focuses on the concept of Pro-active Medicine: preventing disease and reversing its associated risk factors; with an emphasis on cardiovascular disease, one of the leading causes of death in the U.S.

Dr. Castellanos applies this method of Proactive care by providing the following: a strong patient-physician relationship, a complete vascular office assessment, patient education, nutrition and exercise recommendations, behavioral modifications, and frequent monitoring of patient progress. He says that being in San Luis Obispo County is very conducive to this approach. We are, after all, blessed with such a clean and healthy environment, wonderful weather, ample space and opportunity for outdoor activities, and weekly Farmer’s Markets from each town offering a wide variety of better, fresher foods.

This summer, he and his office are very excited to be given the unique opportunity of working with Templeton’s own North County Indians. What the two teams (the doctor’s office and the Indians) are going to embark on is an innovative journey that focuses on vascular health assessment with improvement of performance in sports, otherwise dubbed as the V.I.P.S. program.

Dr. Castellanos believes that the paradox of Sports Medicine is realized in its narrow emphasis on the outwardly observable systems of the body: the skeletal and muscular systems, leaving the cardiovascular system slightly overlooked. Traditionally, Sports Medicine evaluates fitness by measuring range of motion, strength, speed, agility and balance. This leads to the “under” evaluation of athletes in terms of their vascular health and risk for disease. This is exemplified with the sudden and unfortunate death of St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Darryl Kile. The star player, who on the surface seemed to be a perfect specimen of athletic ability, died from cardiovascular disease, manifesting itself as a heart attack. Such situations have also occurred on different sports arenas, such as football, soccer, basketball, etc.

The fact of the matter is, despite their outward appearance as elite beings, multiple studies have shown that athletes are also prone to vascular disease, and a study published in the American Journal of Cardiology stated that a significant proportion of baseball players actually exhibit life-threatening levels of fat and cholesterol. Even though it is common knowledge that athletes often undergo intense training to get back into shape, this “being in shape” may not necessarily be a true extension of cardiovascular health because most of us fall under the assumption that looking healthy on the outside is a direct representation of healthiness inside.

Our cardiovascular system is primarily important to maintain because we rely on this system (consisting of the heart, the arteries, and the veins) to provide the necessary nutrients and oxygen to the cells making up our various body systems. When those cells fail to receive their fair share of oxygen and nutrients, it may lead to deficiency in function of the muscles of the heart, the muscles of the body, the tendons, joints and bones, the nervous system, the lungs, each resulting in possible injury or even death.

The V.I.P.S. program will therefore be a pre and post vascular assessment with the goals of improving cardiovascular health and reversal of risk, thus minimizing injury, incapacitation and death. These will potentially maximize performance of the participants, and prolong the health of both their minds and bodies.

The program will be conducted by simply taking common measurements from each of the team’s players. Measurements like age, weight, blood pressure, pulse, and cholesterol levels. This is followed by a non-invasive baseline bi-directional Doppler ultrasound analysis of the arteries. Recommendations, in terms of nutrition and intensity of exercise, will then be made based on those parameters. Subsequent check ups will be done regularly, to track progress of each athlete by measuring those same parameters. This serves as a form of biofeedback that will help them adhere to the recommended nutrition and exercise intensity. A final follow up will be done 6 weeks later to determine whether the athlete has achieved improvement of his/her cardiovascular health and performance.

Following success, information from the program will be submitted to sports and medical journals, recommending guidelines that allow optimum performance, while maintaining the safety and health of athletes. This will reconstruct the framework of Sports Medicine, enabling it to be a leader in Community Medicine, demonstrating that even athletes, who strive to look healthy on the outside, have understood the need to be primarily healthy inside.

-John Santamarina

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