Heart Disease Specialist

James E. Needell, MD -  - Internal Medicine

Gastonia Wellness & Long Term Care

James E. Needell, MD

Internal Medicine located in Gastonia, NC

Heart disease is the primary killer of men and women in the United States, so it’s important to be proactive about the risk factors that lead to heart disease. Dr. James Needell has extensive experience in addressing high cholesterol, high blood pressure and other risk factors for heart disease. If you live or around Gastonia, North Carolina, you should schedule an appointment at Gastonia Wellness & Long Term Care.

BaleDoneen Method

Heart Attack and Stroke Prevention

Every 43 seconds, someone in the US  has a heart attack and every four minutes an American dies from a stroke.  Very often people who suffer these events were previously unaware that they had cardiovascular disease (CVD), the leading killer of men and women.  The Bale-Doneen Method offers a unique, comprehensive and science-based approach to detecting, preventing and treating CVD that has been shown in two peer-reviewed studies to halt or reverse the disease and prevent heart attacks and strokes.

The standard of care in screening for coronary disease and stroke is limited to a few blood tests and, if a patient is at high risk, a few studies.  These tests can identify an important set of patients who are at risk. However, it misses 60% of the heart attacks and strokes, including the most deadly ones – those with sudden onset in previously asymptomatic patients.  Using the Bale-Doneen Method, Dr. Needell can identify at-risk patients who otherwise, would be missed and treat to FULL PREVENTION those identified. Dr. Needell is one of the only registered Bale-Doneen providers in North or South Carolina.

Patients concerned about or at risk for heart disease or stroke, including those who have a family history, previous events, a diagnosis of blockages or stents, diabetes, hypertension or hyperlipidemia are welcome to call for an evaluation by Dr. Needell.  We offer these services both to our MDVIP patients or those who wish to be evaluated but keep their own primary care provider.

What is heart disease?

Heart disease describes various conditions, but primarily refers to blood vessel conditions that put you at risk for a heart attack or stroke. Conditions that narrow or block the blood vessels are the most common cause of heart disease.

Conditions that fall into the heart disease category include:

  • Coronary artery disease
  • Heart arrhythmias
  • Congenital heart defects
  • Heart infection
  • Congestive heart failure


Heart disease usually starts with artery damage and plaque buildup that slowly narrows the blood vessels over time. Eventually, blood flow to the heart is compromised, and life-threatening blood clots can form.

What are the risk factors for heart disease?

Your age, genetics, and lifestyle choices can put you at risk for heart disease. The four major risk factors for cardiovascular disease include:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking


High blood pressure and cholesterol usually don’t produce visible symptoms, so diagnostic screening is essential to catch them before they cause further damage.

How is high cholesterol diagnosed?

High cholesterol is simple to detect through a blood test called a lipid panel. A lipid panel test typically measures your high-density lipoprotein (HDL), low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and total cholesterols as well as triglycerides. However, more advanced testing, which can better assess your risk, is available.  The usual medical practice does not use these advanced panels but they are routinely used by Dr. Needell.

You need to fast overnight for a lipid panel. Dr. Needell interprets your test results, and total cholesterol readings over 240 mg/dL are considered high.

If Dr. Needell needs to investigate your cardiovascular risk factors for heart disease, he may order further testing such as an echocardiogram (EKG), X-ray, stress test, or other heart tests.

How is high cholesterol treated?

Diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes are the first steps in managing high cholesterol. If you quit smoking, eat healthy, and lose excess weight, you should see your cholesterol numbers improve.

If lifestyle adjustments aren’t enough to lower your cholesterol, you may need medication to block cholesterol absorption in your body. There are many medications for high cholesterol, but not all are uniformly effective. Proper selection is critical in achieving the desired result of reducing cardiovascular risk.

Dr. Needell helps you implement an effective treatment plan by taking your health history, current health, and medication reactions into account.

To partner with Dr. Needell to manage your concerns about high cholesterol and heart disease with Dr. Needell, call Gastonia Wellness & Long Term Care.