Take this survey: I DOUBLE-DARE YOU

In a previous post I entitled Heart disease reversal a big "No No", I posed a challenge--a dare--to readers to ask their doctors if coronary heart could be reversed.

Here's what I said:

I dare you: Ask your doctor whether coronary heart disease can be reversed.

My prediction is that the answer will be a flat "NO." Or, something like "rarely, in extraordinary cases," kind of like spontaneous cure of cancer.

There are indeed discussions that have developed over the years in the conventional scientific and medical literature about reversal of heart disease, like Dean Ornish's Lifestyle Heart Trial, the REVERSAL Trial of atorvastatin (Lipitor) and the ASTEROID Trial of rosuvastatin (Crestor). Reversal of atherosclerotic plaque in these trials tends to be small in scale and sporadic.

The concept of reversal of heart disease has simply not gained a foothold in the lexicon nor in the thinking of practicing physicians. Heart disease is a relentlessly, unavoidably, and helplessly progressive disease in their way of thinking. Perhaps we can reduce the likelihood of cardiovascular events like heart attack and death with statin drugs and beta blockers. But reverse heart disease? In your dreams!

We need to change this mentality. Heart disease is a reversible phenomenon. Atherosclerosis in other territories like the carotid arteries is also a reversible pheneomenon. Rather than throwing medicines and (ineffective) diets at you (like the ridiculous American Heart Association program), what if your doctor set out from the start not just to reduce events, but to purposefully reduce your heart's plaque? While it might not succeed in everyone, it would certainly change the focus dramatically.

After all, isn't this the theme followed in cancer treatment? If you had a tumor, isn't cure the goal? Would we accept an oncologist's advice to simply reduce the likelihood of death from cancer but ignore the idea of ridding yourself completely of the disease? I don't think so.

Then why accept "event reduction" as a goal in heart disease? We shouldn't have to. Heart disease reversal--elimination--should be the goal.

I know of one person who actually followed through on this challenge and asked his cardiologist whether his heart disease could be reduced or reversed. As predicted, the answer was no. No explanation followed.

But allow me to reiterate: Heart disease is 1) detectable, 2) quantifiable, 3) controllable, and, in many cases 4) reversible.

What if there was a big payoff to your doctor if heart disease was reversed, say $100,000? That's enough to dwarf the payoff from procedures. Guess what? You'd have doctors fighting for your business, a chance to reverse your disease, ads to that effect, champions of reversal emerging. No new tools would be necessary. They could use the tools already available. Then why hasn't this happened? Is the technology unavailable? Are the treatments ineffective?

No, heart disease is a controllable and reversible process with tools that are available today. But there is, of course, no big payoff for doing it. So the financial incentive remains to do procedures, not to reverse the disease.

But I'd like to re-pose this challenge. Ask your doctor if heart disease can be reversed, or at least reduced. I've even posted a Survey at the top left for anyone who tries.

Again, my prediction: Nobody will try it and nobody will post survey results. Why? Despite my rantings (and those of a few others) about the concept of heart disease being a reversible process, in the public's consciousness it remains a death sentence and the only solution is hospital procedures. My colleagues continue to cultivate this attitude and it serves them well financially.

I'll be disappointed if I prove to be right. I hope that I am wrong. But I don't think that I am.

Copyright 2008 William Davis, MD

Comments (10) -

  • Anonymous

    1/14/2008 2:03:00 PM |

    I'm not planning to see my doctor again until I reverse my plaque growth.  My first round of talks with him was not encouraging as he only believes statin drugs can be of help.  Ironically my doctor's age is similar to mine and he also told me he has a similar amount of plaque.  My plan is simply to see him again once I control or reverse my plaque growth and tell him there no reason why he couldn't do the same thing too.

  • Anonymous

    1/14/2008 2:30:00 PM |

    Interesting.  Recently, my primary care physician and I had a long talk about causing regression of heart disease.  (Imagine that - my doctor actually spent more than 30 minutes talking to me about medicine.)  He took the time to pull out various articles and texts about heart disease and explain the underlying causes.  He noted that his goal for his patients was to move their heart scan score backwards.  His primary tools for doing so are (1) EBT; (2) blood tests using VAP; and (3) medication (primarily statins mixed with niacin); and (4) repeat EBT.  He noted that very few of his patients had regression of their calcium scores but that many of his patients had calcium score increases in the 0 to 10% annual range.  Most interesting to me is that my doctor also has coronary calcification and is a diabetic.  He mentioned that his own calcium score had decreased in the past year by about 3%.  So obviously he must be doing something right, at least for himself.  

    We spoke about Vitamin D3.  He is a proponent of supplementing D3 when the levels are below 30 ng/mL.  He also tested for homocysteine levels and then emailed me to to take a B multi-supplement based on a high homocysteine score saying that it may have benefits both for heart disease and stroke prevention.

    He had not heard of TYP but I would bet that he would be quite open to this approach as he says his goal is "preventive cardiology."  What materials would you suggest I provide him for my next office visit?


  • Nancy M.

    1/14/2008 7:23:00 PM |

    We just had a woman reverse her heart disease through diet: congestive heart failure, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.  Her doctor initially put her on a low fat, high carb diet and she got worse.  She ran into a cardiologist on a plane trip who advised low carb.  She went back onto a low carb diet (she'd been on one previously) and the results of her last echo cardiogram say the damage to her heart is negligible.  Her doctor was formerly skeptical of low carb diets but is now on one and has dropped 20 pounds herself.

    So yeah!  She's pretty convinced heart disease is reversible!

    And to confirm her results, the day after she found out a study came out about insulin resistance and cardiomyopathy.  Insulin-Resistant Cardiomyopathy, Clinical Evidence, Mechanisms, and Treatment Options.

    Sadly the study doesn't mention changing your diet to treat it....

  • Dr. Davis

    1/14/2008 8:20:00 PM |


    Can you tell us who your doctor is? I'd like to contact him myself and congratulate him on trying to achieve regression/reversal. He is truly exceptional.

    In the meantime, just let him know that the Track Your Plaque program is all about trying to gain control over your heart scan score. We might be able to improve his results dramatically just by adding a few bits of wisdom.

  • Dr. Davis

    1/14/2008 8:32:00 PM |

    Thanks, Nancy.

  • Dr. Davis

    1/14/2008 8:40:00 PM |

    That's an interesting turnaround.

    Also, perhaps a curious reflection of how motivations can differ between doctor and patient nowadays. You want to save your life, your doctor often wants to save money (i.e., insurance money).

  • Anonymous

    1/14/2008 9:31:00 PM |

    Dr. Davis - I sent a message to your aol account with my doctor's details.  I would be very curious to learn of his reaction to the TYP program.  I suspect he'll be receptive to your approach.


  • Stan

    1/14/2008 11:01:00 PM |

    Of course it can be reversed!   I have done it myself although I cannot prove it now.   I used to experience some mild angina pain in my early fourties, and frequent episodes of rapid heart beat every few months.  It all went away about 6 months on a ketogenic diet, on which I have stayed permanently on, to this day. It never reoccured and my stamina has gone back up to roughly the same level I had in my twenties (I am 51).   It was 8 years ago.

    Best regards to all, this is really exceptional blog. Keep up your good work,

    Stan (Heretic)

  • moblogs

    1/15/2008 12:18:00 PM |

    I won't add to the survey as I haven't asked, but the mantra from the British Heart Foundation down to the doctor is prevention or management. Nowhere in their literature have I seen any mention of reversing heart disease.

  • Anonymous

    12/26/2009 4:30:22 PM |

    Cannot be