An epidemic of heart disease reversal

Heart disease reversal is nothing new in my office. However, I have to admit that it's not something that generally happens each and every day.

As our approach is refined, we are witnessing an unprecedented frequency of plaque reversal. Since Monday (today is Tuesday), I've seen four people who have regressed their coronary plaque and dropped their heart scan score.

Pat was the most recent addition to this list. At age 53, I was honestly surprised at the ease of dropping her heart scan score from 128 to 42 in the space of a year. I was surprised because among her lipoprotein patterns was the dreaded combination of lipoprotein(a) and small LDL, probably the most aggressive risk for heart disease I know of and also among the most difficult to gain control over. She also suffered a deep personal tragedy in her family, an emotional convulsion that can sometimes wipe out any hope of plaque reversal.

I'm hopeful that this virtual epidemic of heart disease reversal continues. And I hope that you participate in it.

Comments (3) -

  • Bill, the songwriter

    1/30/2008 12:58:00 AM |

    Dr. Davis, I have been reading your site off and on for months. I guess only a doc can answer this.

    I am confused about the options a "reasonable person" would have upon learning that he has coronary heart disease (CHD). By that, I mean blockage in a major artery.

    Take me for example. (First, I'm doing fine now.) Two years ago, I had the "felt like a band tightening around my chest." 911 ambulance ride to the hospital. Bummer. My family history is terrible, all the men died of heart disease. I'm 54 now. I was disappointed and a bit apprehensive, although not "scared." I just figured they'd fix it. It usually works out that you don't die. (Although I lost a good friend on the bypass table who was seemingly healthy as could be the day before... routine physical and a stress test and they recommended bypass right away. He died on the table from the surgery!)

    Back to me... over the next few days, CHD confirmed. LAD had 99% blockage and a branch had 90%.

    I assume that my options at that time were...

    1. Get angioplasty and that's it
    2. Get angioplasty and a stent(s)
    3. Get bypass surgery
    4. Treat the heart disease with aggressive therapy. Which if you buy into the mainstream medicine way, it's drugs, low-fat diet, exercise, stress reduction. If you buy into alternative methods, it can include low-carb diet and powerful supplements.

    Confusion revolves around #4. My question is...

    Do you think #4 is apropos for a person in this situation? (99% blockage in LAD)

    I am confused because I'm thinking, okay, confirmed blockage. But it was the first sign I had ever had that I had heart problems.

    I realize that the percentage is a guess on the cardiologist's part, they don't measure it. But if it's 99% I tend to think... what is the risk of walking away to treat it without #1, 2 or 3? A blood clot that occurs for whatever reason hits that blockage and I could die. Could happen at any moment. Hours, days, weeks, months, years later.

    I also realize that there is risk in angioplasty, stents and bypass. Even discounting risk (of complication or dying on the table), restenosis is a common problem. And of course, you can have other blockages manifest themselves.

    But you could take the aggressive alternative therapy route and hope to stop the growth of plaque. At that time, I was not convinced that the blockages could be "reversed." Now, it appears that this can occur.

    I'll assume that you can reverse the situation and actually clean up your arteries. Is it a reasonable risk to opt for #4 or is this only for people who have less severe blockage? You're risking that you DON'T have a blood clot hit a blockage and kill you before you can achieve the artery-cleaning effect by your therapy, whatever it is.

    Seems I have read that stats are showing that #1, 2 or 3 do not necessarily beat #4 ... that #4 does just as well (lifespan) after the diagnosis.

    If quality of life was an issue, such as a person who has angina so severe or such difficulty breathing that a normal life was not possible, maybe that person is a definite candidate for #1, #2 or #3. But I wasn't there. I felt fine before AND after the event.

    As mentioned, I'm doing fine now. I love my low-carb diet, my lipids are great, I've lost weight, I exercise. This is just something that I would like to clear up for my own education. And who knows, a friend might ask me about this if s/he is diagnosed.

  • Dr. Davis

    1/30/2008 1:12:00 AM |

    You've made great changes in your lifestyle that will likely translate into much reduced risk for more struggles with heart disease. However, it is highly unlikely that you've put a stop to it, let alone reversing it.

    I would refer you to the website that this blog accompanies, Please keep in mind that I nor any other responsible physician can diagnose or offer individualized medical information over the net.

  • Bill, the songwriter

    1/30/2008 2:03:00 PM |

    Thanks for answering. I didn't mean to infer I am asking about me in particular for a present situation, I just used me as an example because that's what I know. I was asking about a hypothetical person.

    I've read much on your site but I'll go back again.

    IMO, 99% (at least) of all people who get a recommendation from a cardiologist to undergo an invasive procedure... they do it. And I'm curious about one taking another approach.

    Oh well, thanks again, Doc.