There is a problem with heart disease that Bloomfield Township doctor Joel Kahn wants you to know about – and it could save your life.
"The first sign is, very sadly, a heart attack or death," said Kahn, a cardiologist and author of three books, including "Dead Execs Don't Get Bonuses." "For 100 years running, the number one cause of death has been coronary heart disease, and this year is no different than any other year. It's a disease with no warning while building up from mild to moderate to severe."
Kahn, who owns and operates the Kahn Center for Cardiac Longevity in Bingham Farms and Grosse Pointe Farms, as well as a cardiology practice in Bloomfield Township, said his work and books are determined to prevent a million heart attacks during his lifetime. By understanding the facts about heart disease, how to get a proper checkup and taking up a healthy diet and exercise, he hopes to reverse the process of heart disease for those already in the stages of the disease or who are at risk.
Kahn's mission started while attending medical school at the University of Michigan, but it was solidified after his friend, Imre Molnar, a design guru and former provost at the Center for Creative Studies, went for a bicycle ride while on vacation and never returned.
"He had a 95 percent blockage in an artery that even a doctor's visit the week before failed to detect. It was tragic," he said. "I said, 'I need to write something that has a title and content to share what I share with the people in my office.'
"It's not a pleasant conversation. Your diet, genetics and blood pressure could have left you with damaged arteries, and there's no clue."
While there's no outward warning signs for heart disease, Kahn said, a special test called a coronary calcium scan can give an early warning. The test, which Kahn said takes about 20 minutes and includes no pain at all, can forecast your risk for heart disease and allow patients to make changes to improve their situation before it's too late. The scans are only available at a hospital with a prescription or recommendation from a doctor.
"They call it the widow maker – from the obvious name for what can happen – that's the common term in cardiology to describe the large artery that gets the most blockage."
It's this kind of straightforward talk about health that Kahn uses in his books. "The book lays it out for everybody," he said. "It's mandatory reading at age 40," he said.
Dead Execs was self-published about four years ago, but its success led it to be a recent Amazon Best Seller and led to a second publishing. Kahn's first book, "The Whole Heart Solution," also topped Amazon as a best seller. His third book, "The Plant Based Solution," is his latest book, which focuses on combining traditional health practices with a vegan diet.
In addition to his medical offices, Kahn takes his suggestions a step further by owning and operating a successful vegan restaurant and food truck business with his son. Recently celebrating its third anniversary, the GreenSpace Cafe in Ferndale is an artisanal plant-based restaurant and craft cocktail bar.
As for staying on his feet and active during his workday, Kahn said he uses a standing desk to avoid too much sitting.
"I'm almost never sitting," he said. "The desk allows me to move and shake around and burn calories."
Photo: Esme McClear