What goes up can't come down

According to conventional wisdom, heart scan scores cannot be reduced.

In other words, say you begin with a heart scan score of 300. Conventional wisdom says you should take aspirin and a statin drug, eat a low-fat "heart healthy" diet, and take high blood pressure medications, if necessary.

If your heart scan score goes up in a year or two, especially at an annual rate of 20% or more, then you are at very high risk for heart attack. If the heart scan score stays the same, then your risk is much reduced. These observations are well-established.

But more than 99% of physicians will tell you that reducing your heart scan score is impossible. Don't even try: Heart scan scores can go up, but they can't go down.

Baloney. Heart scan scores can indeed go down. And they can go down dramatically.

It is true that, following conventional advice like taking a statin drug, following a low-fat diet, and taking aspirin will fail to reduce your heart scan score. A more rational approach that 1) identifies all causes of coronary plaque, 2) corrects all causes while including crucial strategies like omega-3 fatty acid supplementation, vitamin D supplementation, and thyroid function normalization, is far more likely to yield a halt or reduction in score.

While not everybody who undertakes the Track Your Plaque program will succeed in reducing their heart scan score, a growing number are enjoying success.

A small portion of our experience was documented this past summer. (I collected and analyzed the data with the help of Rush University nutrition scientist, Dr. Susie Rockway, and statistician, Dr. Mary Kwasny.)

Effect of a combined therapeutic approach of intensive lipid management, omega-3 fatty acid supplementation, and increased serum 25 (OH) vitamin D on coronary calcium scores in asymptomatic adults.

Davis W, Rockway S, Kwasny M.

The impact of intensive lipid management, omega-3 fatty acid, and vitamin D3 supplementation on atherosclerotic plaque was assessed through serial computed tomography coronary calcium scoring (CCS). Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol reduction with statin therapy has not been shown to reduce or slow progression of serial CCS in several recent studies, casting doubt on the usefulness of this approach for tracking atherosclerotic progression. In an open-label study, 45 male and female subjects with CCS of > or = 50 without symptoms of heart disease were treated with statin therapy, niacin, and omega-3 fatty acid supplementation to achieve low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides < or = 60 mg/dL; high-density lipoprotein > or = 60 mg/dL; and vitamin D3 supplementation to achieve serum levels of > or = 50 ng/mL 25(OH) vitamin D, in addition to diet advice. Lipid profiles of subjects were significantly changed as follows: total cholesterol -24%, low-density lipoprotein -41%; triglycerides -42%, high-density lipoprotein +19%, and mean serum 25(OH) vitamin D levels +83%. After a mean of 18 months, 20 subjects experienced decrease in CCS with mean change of -14.5% (range 0% to -64%); 22 subjects experienced no change or slow annual rate of CCS increase of +12% (range 1%-29%). Only 3 subjects experienced annual CCS progression exceeding 29% (44%-71%). Despite wide variation in response, substantial reduction of CCS was achieved in 44% of subjects and slowed plaque growth in 49% of the subjects applying a broad treatment program.

Comments (13) -

  • karl

    11/28/2009 8:01:01 PM |

    Where is this published?

  • Nigel Kinbrum BSc(Hons)Eng

    11/28/2009 9:09:40 PM |

    Has anyone investigated the effect of Vitamin K2 on CCS?

  • Dr. William Davis

    11/28/2009 9:23:30 PM |


    In the American Journal of Therpeutics 2009 Jul-Aug;16(4):326-32.

    For abstract, go to Pubmed and enter "Davis + Rockway" into the search.

  • Dr. William Davis

    11/28/2009 9:24:14 PM |

    Hi, Nigel--

    There are no studies in which K2 vs. placebo have been administered, only observations studies in which lower K2 intake has been related to greater risk for cardiovascular events.

  • David

    11/29/2009 2:17:29 AM |

    Hi Dr. Davis,

    Do you have any insight into what separated those that had reversal from that those that had slow and rapid progression?


  • drake

    11/29/2009 2:24:04 AM |

    My cardiologist said essentially the very point of your first sentence.  I had pestered my PCP to order a heart scan a month ago.  He relented only by stating that I should then go see a cardiologist.  

    The cardio stated that scores can't be decreased unless "they change the software reading the scan."  He further stated, "calcium is calcium; where's it going to go?"  Needless to say, he placed very little value on heart scans but it made for some lively discussion between he and I.

  • Paul Smith

    11/29/2009 2:36:20 AM |

    Dr. Davis - I'm 36YO in Australia with a 50% blockage on my LAD (vulnerable plaque). I have 1 tiny spec of calcium on a branch of my LAD so not much of a calcium score. I realise this is a serious problem.
    I guess 'track you plaque' would be harder for my with such a low calcium score so I haven't joined up.
    I've been using your techniques for 3months now - I'm sugar and carb free and I'm very close to 60/60/60 as you have recommend.
    With reference to your most recent posting, what is your experience with Vulnerable Plaque reduction in people with low or no calcium score? Its a bit harder to track I would have thought? PS - TIP for new bloggers - don't take 500mg of Niacin if its the first time your doing it! Ouch.

  • Red Sphynx

    11/29/2009 2:59:29 AM |


    Any general insight as to why this worked so markedly well for some of your patients, less well for others, and not at all for 3?  Obesity?  Tobacco?  Stress? Not taking their meds? Diabetes? Working in a refinery?  Or is It more about choosing the right ancestors?

  • Anonymous

    11/29/2009 4:48:45 AM |

    A major question remains: "Why are some patients NOT responsive to the TYP protocol"?

    Is their coronary artery disease being driven by a different cause?

  • billye

    11/29/2009 6:12:09 PM |

    Hi Dr. Davis,
    As usual you always provide great information.  I have been following a life style change that features the diet of our ancient ancestors, with great results for the last 12 month.  I use saturated fats exclusively, including MCT and coconut oil, Weight loss 55 pounds, Diabetes type 2 cured (A1c's of 4.7,4.8,and 5.0 all without medication). My doctor stopped all Staten's. I recently received the results of a VAP test 11/16/09.
    Some of the pertinent results are:
    Tot. LDL-C Direct 154 mg/dl
    Tot. HDL-C Direct  63 mg/dl
    Tot. TG    Direct  63 mg/dl
    Sum Tot. Cholesterol 233
    Real-LDL sz. Pat. A large buoyant
    Remnant Lipo (IDL+VLDL3) 26
    HDL-2(large,buoyant) 18
    HDL-3(small, dense)  45
    VLDL-3 (remnant lipo)9
    Recommendation: Consider lowering LDL-C goal.

    Because I am not a doctor, I am having trouble analyzing this VAP test.  I have started a course of Usher Smith 500mg SLO NIACIN.  Any other suggestions?  Is this  enough to  
    lower my LDL? I very much value your opinion, any input will be greatly appreciated.  Thanks in advance.
    Bill Eisenberg

  • Dr. William Davis

    11/29/2009 6:35:07 PM |


    I believe you may be misinterpreting what Track Your Plaque is intended to do. It is NOT  a program to reduce the amount of calcium in the coronary arteries; it is a program that uses the surrogate marker of coronary calcium as a means of reducing plaque.

    All the strategies we use in the program still apply, regardless of the proportion of calcium to non-calcified elements.

  • Anonymous

    12/8/2009 3:09:48 AM |

    new book is available when ?

  • buy jeans

    11/3/2010 10:05:27 PM |

    A small portion of our experience was documented this past summer. (I collected and analyzed the data with the help of Rush University nutrition scientist, Dr. Susie Rockway, and statistician, Dr. Mary Kwasny.)