My Heart Watch: Bay Area Health Measurements

For many years I have used the services of Heart Watch to measure my cholesterol and other health-related things, such as HbA1c. The couple that runs Heart Watch, Sandy and Glen, travels up and down California. I was able to get tested only every three months. Feeling that this was inadequate, just as I did, a man named Karl Corbett recently started a business called My Heart Watch that allows much more frequent tests in the Bay Area, at similar price. My Heart Watch uses the same portable testing devices as Heart Watch.

The Berkeley location is almost across the street from Whole Foods. I signed up online (I was the first person to use their online sign-up service), which was very convenient.

Corbett told me that he greatly improved his cholesterol numbers by changing to a Caldwell-Esselstyn “plant-based diet” that included lots of vegetables, some fruit, no oils, and no animal-based products. (Since the usual oils, such olive and soybean oil, are plant-based, this is a curious feature. Esselstyn seems to ignore bad effects of cholesterol lowering.) The more often you can test yourself, the more easily you can determine what controls what you’re measuring. When you can test yourself often enough to be sure whether a dietary (or other) change has made a difference, you can begin to ignore large clinical trials and their many limitations, which include poor choice of control group, poor statistics, incomplete reporting, biassed reporting, publication bias, confoundings, investigator fraud, on and on. They are the fool’s-gold standard. If I can determine if alternate-day fasting improves my HbA1c, I can ignore what clinical trials say about it.

Before writing this post I spoke to Corbett about getting discounted testing in return for publicizing My Heart Watch.

7 Responses to “My Heart Watch: Bay Area Health Measurements”

  1. Sean Says:

    I’m not sure what convinced me of Dr Esselstyn’s diet, whether it was the scientific objectivity, the overall website design, or the ‘as seen on CNN’ logo at the top of the page, but I’m suddenly convinced that SFAs will clog my arteries.

  2. Laura Says:

    Regarding the study you linked (bad effects of cholesterol lowering)…it seems that cholesterol was lowered in that study by means of medication. The health outcomes might be very different if the same thing were achieved using an Esselstyn-type diet.

    Seth: I think it is not so simple. Let’s say the medicine in that study has two effects: X and cholesterol-lowering. An Esselstyn-type diet has other effects: Y plus cholesterol-lowering. As far as I know, the medicine in that study does not have the bad effects (e.g., increased risk of suicide) unless your cholesterol is low. Which suggests that it has bad effects because it lowers cholesterol. So it is not obvious how an Esselstyn-type diet will affect suicide and other measures of mental health. Were Esselstyn to understand this and try to find the answer (“what effect does my diet have on mental health?”) I would respect him. As far as I know, he doesn’t. The bad effects of cholesterol-lowering seen in that study and others he dismisses too easily.

  3. dearieme Says:

    Perhaps your optimal cholesterol level is whatever level your body adopts when you eat a healthy mixed diet. Who knows?

  4. derp Says:

    It is an interesting piece of self-experimentation and emphasizes how important it is to measure early, often and regularly. You already noted the futility of bringing down the cholesterol content – this is another aspect of self-experimentation: You need to measure outcomes that really do improve that what you want to improve (health in that case) and not some epidemiologically-linked number.

  5. Javed Alam Says:

    I have used this home Kit to test for total cholesterol, HDL and Triglycerides.

    http://www.cardiochek.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=135&Itemid=255

    It works and results match up with the lab results.

    I don’t use it to test blood glucose levels for that I have a different test kit from Bayers. I also use home A1C test kit from Bayers some times.

    Seth: At first I was excited by the existence of home A1C testing. Then I saw this review.

  6. dearieme Says:

    On second thoughts: is there any worthwhile evidence that such a thing as an optimal cholesterol level exists? (I exempt from this question the poor souls suffering from Familial Hypercholesterolemia.)

  7. dearieme Says:

    Perhaps I needn’t have exmepted the poor souls.
    http://drmalcolmkendrick.org/2013/07/16/you-are-a-very-black-swan-indeed/