“It’s not that I was unhealthy,” says Palm Desert resident Gale Hackshaw. “But I’m 63, and I want to be the best I can be for whatever time I have left. Whatever’s under my control, I want to do it. Last year, I decided to explore my options.” Gale’s quest took her to the Eisenhower Wellness Institute’s Executive Health Program at the George and Julia Argyros Health Center in La Quinta, California. This unique program provides an extensive range of screening tests, an in-depth lifestyle evaluation, and a personalized plan to help participants achieve their health goals.
“I initially went to get nutritional information to learn how best to nourish myself,” Hackshaw continues, “but I walked away with such an amazingly different understanding of how everything works together in the body.
“And the best part? It was so empowering to learn I have a lot of control over how my body works,” she adds. “Being healthy isn’t a random thing.”
“The Executive Health program was created to give people the tools to build their own health for a lifetime,” explains Jeralyn Brossfield, MD, Medical Director of the Eisenhower Wellness Institute. “We focus on finding the root cause and historical reasons for any illness or trends in a person’s health. This enables us to see the individual as a whole person and how their various systems — particularly their heart, gut and brain — are impacting each other.
“Through testing, we take an in-depth look at these multiple body systems, formulate a detailed action plan for each participant, and partner with them through the changes they need to make,” she continues, stressing that lifestyle, not medication, is the foundation of the action plan.
“It’s like when your GPS system says ‘recalculating,’” she adds. “We provide the information and guidance to help people take their health in a new direction.”
So what did Hackshaw learn, and in what new direction did she take her health?
“The only real surprise was that my cholesterol was higher than expected,” she says. “Looked at in isolation, another doctor might have put me on a statin, but testing showed I didn’t have any inflammation, and the particle size of my LDL, the ‘bad’ cholesterol, didn’t put me at risk.”
Dr. Brossfield explains: “Traditional cholesterol testing looks at total cholesterol, LDL, HDL and triglycerides,” she says. “What’s now available is particle testing of the subtypes of LDL in the blood,” she continues. “Some studies have shown it may be predictive of who’ll have cardiovascular events over time. This is the type of cholesterol testing we do.”
Although Hackshaw’s cholesterol particle type was reassuring, a further test in her executive physical demonstrated that plaque buildup in her arteries was more than expected. Plaque is the waxy buildup on the lining of the arteries that contributes to heart disease, heart attack and stroke. An aggressive lifestyle program of customized diet and exercise was recommended.
Lifestyle changes ahead
“I gave up sugar, gluten and caffeine, and eat ‘good’ fats from foods like nuts and avocados. I always thought a low-fat diet was healthy, but learned we need these good fats for brain health. I always eat three meals a day, plus healthy snacks, never skip meals, and drink tons of water.”
Hackshaw also added exercise and got a personal trainer — something she had never done before. She continues, “so I’m growing muscles — something I never had before!”
“I now have so much energy, and it stays level all day long,” Hackshaw adds. “The fact that I took five of my 13 grandchildren to the movies recently affirms this!”
Notably, follow-up testing six months after adopting her new regimen from Eisenhower Executive Health revealed that her total cholesterol came down, underscoring the impact diet can have on heart health.
“The ultimate goal is to eat in such a way to keep blood sugar, insulin and cortisol, the ‘stress hormone,’ steady,” Dr. Brossfield explains. “This helps lower cholesterol in the blood, which helps prevent plaque buildup in the arteries.”
“As a result, we see a reduction of inflammation and excess weight and an improvement in the function of not only the heart, but also the brain and gastrointestinal systems,” she notes.
Hackshaw is a believer
“I feel good,” she says. “What I love most about this program is that I walked away with a customized recipe for optimal health. It’s not cookie-cutter. Even the vitamins I take are tailored to me. For example, testing showed my body doesn’t absorb B vitamin pills, so now I get them in a shot.
“The team put it all together in a holistic way so you understand all the pieces of the puzzle,” she continues. “They want you to succeed.
“But you’ve got to be willing to do it, to make that commitment to take care of yourself the best way you can,” she adds. “This program shows you the way.”
What the Executive Health Program entails:
The Executive Health Program starts with a physician-supervised, one-day assessment that includes:
- In-depth medical history and health goal review
- Physical exam
- Preventive screening tests for early detection of heart, lung and metabolic disease, cancer and other serious conditions
- Advanced laboratory tests to assess inflammatory, cardiovascular and metabolic indicators
- Ultrasound screening of the carotid and aortic arteries
- Pulmonary function evaluation
- EKG and blood pressure
- Body composition evaluation
- Nutrition consultation
- Exercise tolerance testing
- Cognitive assessment to provide insight into brain health status
- Stress adaptation assessment to measure the body’s response to stress
Test results are reviewed by two physicians with a follow-up physician consultation to discuss a detailed action plan.
A more comprehensive Total Wellness Program includes in-depth testing of gastrointestinal and brain health, with 90 days of support, including lifestyle coaching, phone and office visits, and retesting at the end of 90 days to evaluate progress.
Packages and services are not covered by insurance. For more information about Eisenhower Wellness Institute’s Executive Health Program, or to schedule an appointment, call 760-610-7360.