It really helps to have someone to lean on

Among my patients are several husband and wife teams, both of whom have heart disease by some measure. Several couples, for instance, consist of a huband who's received a stent, survived a heart attack, or has some other scar of the conventional approach. The wives generally have a substantial heart scan score in the several hundred range.

There are a few couples for which the roles are reversed: wife with bypass, heart attack, etc. and husband with a substantial quantity of coronary plaque by CT heart scan.

From them all, however, I've learned the power of teamwork. When both wife and husband (or even "significant other") are committed to the effort of controlling or reversing heart disease risk, the likelihood of success is magnified many-fold. Everything is easier: shopping for and choosing foods, incorporating supplements in the budget, taking vacations with a healthy focus, following through and sticking with your program.

Several of the couples have succeeded in obtaining regression of plaque for both man and woman. Both have reduced their heart scan scores and, as a result, dramatically reduced the potential for future heart attack and procedures.

Unfortunately, I will also see the opposite situation: One spouse committed to the program but the other indifferent. They may say such things as "You can't control what happens in the future." Or, "There's no way you can get rid of risk for heart disease. My doctor says it's hereditary." Or, "I've eaten this way since I was a kid. I'm not changing now for you or for anybody else."

Such negative commentary can't help but erode your commitment to health. Most of us recognize these sorts of comments as self-fulfulling and self-defeating.

What should you do if you have an unsupportive partner? Not easy. But it really can help to seek out a supportive partner, whether it's a friend, relative, or other significant person in your life. Of course, not everybody can find such a person. Perhaps that's another way our program can help.

I'd like to hear from anyone who does obtain substantial support of someone close, or if you are struggling to do so.