The Kaleidoscope Model of Integrative Healthcare, where DCs and MDs work together and cardiology partners with chiropractic
Every 37 seconds, someone in the U.S. dies of cardiovascular disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.1
In fact, heart disease — which the Mayo Clinic points out encompasses cardiovascular disease (conditions that narrow or block the blood vessels), but also “describes a range of conditions that affect your heart” — is the leading cause of death for both men and women.2
Of course, if a patient is having heart issues, seeing a cardiologist should be their first step. When cardiology partners with chiropractic it can be an important part of the treatment process, according to the Kaleidoscope Model of Integrative Healthcare.
The Kaleidoscope Model of Integrative Healthcare explained
In a March 2018 article published in the journal Integrative Medicine Research, authors from Johns Hopkins, North Virginia Community College, and Harbor Healthcare explain that the Kaleidoscope Model of Integrative Healthcare is intended to be a “model of integrative care for cardiovascular patients in institutional settings” whereby medical doctors and doctors of chiropractic work together to provide patients a higher level of care.3
Though it’s somewhat an out-of-the-field comparison, this cooperation is similar to how general contractors work together when building a house. While builders, plumbers and electricians are all experts in their own specific areas, if they collaborate when developing the blueprints they all agree to follow, the end result is likely a higher-quality home.
The Kaleidoscope Model suggests that the same is true in health care for cardiology patients.
Case studies: cardiology partners with chiropractic
Part of the reason this model is so important is because sometimes chiropractic patients present with pain that appears musculoskeletal in nature, but is actually the result of an underlying cardiac issue.
For instance, in March 2016, Ryan S. Larson, DC, published a report in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine highlighting how two separate patients presented with musculoskeletal symptoms, yet the cause of these symptoms was coronary artery disease.4
The first patient was a 48-year-old male who was healthy and active. However, he began experiencing pain in the mid-to-lower thoracic spine and ribs after engaging in cardiovascular exercise. Initially, the patient’s pain improved with thoracic spine manipulation and soft tissue therapy, but then he had another painful attack. Upon the urging of the chiropractor, the patient made an appointment with his medical doctor where, after conducting a few tests, he learned that he had partial coronary arterial occlusions. Two stents were implanted, ultimately resolving the chest pain.
The second patient was a 61-year-old male who was actively being treated for low-back pain but, in a follow-up visit, also reported that he had developed acute pain in the central chest area that felt “like a soup can being forced against his chest wall.” Though the DC suggested the patient speak to his medical doctor about the pain, he declined.
Fast forward three weeks and the patient experienced three progressively worsening chest pain attacks, causing him to seek medical treatment. This is when he learned that one of his arteries was 90% blocked and two others were experiencing 30% and 40% blockage. He also received a stent and the pain was resolved. In both of these cases, patients presented with what appeared to be musculoskeletal pain but the underlying cause was cardiac in nature.
Additional studies have found that when cardiology partners with chiropractic care it can also potentially offer other benefits to the heart. For instance, research published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics analyzed data from 96 physicians and found that, after engaging in just one session of chiropractic, patients’ heart rates reduced slightly.
Establishing working relationships with medical doctors and cardiologists in your area makes it easier to make patient referrals when you question whether a cardiac issue may exist. It creates a basic level of trust not only between you as practitioners, but patients may be more inclined to follow your advice and seek additional care if your recommendations are based on your own experiences with those health care professionals.
One way to begin working on this relationship is to simply set up a time to meet with that practitioner and discuss the ways you can potentially work together to better benefit both of your patients. Another option is to talk to your current patients who are receiving cardiac care and ask them about their health care team. This will begin to give you a sense of how other doctors in the area typically operate, how cardiology partners with chiropractic in the region, and whether they may be open to collaboration.
CHRISTINA DEBUSK is a freelance writer who specializes in content related to natural health and wellness, personal development and small-business marketing. She can be contacted through ChristinaMDeBusk.com.