Why am I here?

Frank came to the office for an opinion, sent by his (proactive) family physician.

"I really don't know why I'm here, to be honest."

Two years earlier, Frank had a heart attack, survived and received two stents to his circumflex coronary artery. He now took Zocor and his LDL cholesterol was a reasonably favorable 89 mg, total cholesterol 183 mg.

"I walk with my wife every other day. I've been avoiding fish fries. You'll never see me eat fast food."

Frank was correct: If we were going to engage in the conventional approach to coronary disease, Frank was on the right track. We would have postponed his next heart attack or procedure by a couple of years. Stroke, aneurysm, and other atherosclerotic manifestations would be set back, likewise, a few years.

Would Frank have profound control over his disease? Absolutely not. In fact, his disease had probably advanced a huge amount just in the two years since his stents were placed and he was on his "prevention" program. Without his current effort, his coronary plaque would be expected to grow 30% per year. On Zocor and his modest lifestyle efforts, plaque growth was probably in the 14-28% per year range.

So I explained the unique Track Your Plaque approach to Frank. First, we start with a CT heart scan to establish where he was starting. Although he had two stents in his circumflex artery, we still had two other arteries (LAD, right coronary) to score and track.

We then attempt to identify all hidden causes of his heart disease and then correct them.

Of course, Frank had multiple hidden causes:

--HDL too low at 38 mg/dl
--Small LDL-severe, in fact, with 95% of all LDL particles in the small category
--Triglycerides too high
--Excesses of several triglyceride-containing particles (VLDL, IDL)
--Pre-diabetes--Frank had both a borderline high blood sugar and a high insulin level. This is a sure-fire stimulus to coronary plaque growth.
--A severe deficiency of vitamin D (<20 ng/ml)
--An excessivelyhigh blood pressure during exercise--With a blood pressure of 190/102 on the treadmill.

There were others(!), but that was the bulk of the causes behind Frank's coronary disease.

Once Frank recognized that there was indeed a huge panel of hidden causes for heart disease, not just too much fat in his diet and LDL cholesterol, he jumped into the program head first.

The message: The conventional approach is absurdly oversimplified, a certain path to failure for the majority of people. Even if you don't have known coronary disease like Frank, but just have a heart scan score >zero, the same principles apply to you.