What Mr. Clinton did NOT do

You've likely already heard that former President Bill Clinton underwent a heart catheterization today during which one of the bypass grafts to his coronary arteries was found to be occluded. The original coronary artery was therefore stented.

Dr. Alan Schwartz, Mr. Clinton's cardiologist, announced to the gathered press that Mr. Clinton had followed a good diet, had adopted a regular exercise program, but that his condition is a "chronic disease" like hypertension that is not cured by these efforts.

Needing a stent just 6 years after four bypass grafts are inserted is awfully soon. I would propose that it has less to do with having a "chronic disease" and more to do with all the things that Mr. Clinton likely is NOT doing. (In addition to all the other things that Mr. Clinton did not do.) In other words, in the Track Your Plaque world, procedures are a rarity, heart attacks virtually unheard of. I would wager that Mr. Clinton has been doing none of the following:

--Taking fish oil. Or, if his doctor was "advanced" enough to have advised him to take fish oil, not taking enough.
--Vitamin D--Followers of the Heart Scan Blog already know that vitamin D is the most incredible health find of the last 50 years, including its effects on reducing heart disease risk. Unless Mr. Clinton runs naked in a tropical sun, he is vitamin D deficient. A typical dose for a man his size is 8000 units per day (gelcap only!).
--Eating a true heart healthy diet. I'll bet Mr. Clinton's doctor, trying to do the "right" thing, follows the prudent course of advising a "balanced diet" that is low in fat--you know, the diet that causes heart disease. Judging by Mr. Clinton's body shape (central body fat), it is a virtual certainty that he conceals a severe small LDL pattern, the sort that is worsened by grains, improved with their elimination.
--Making sure that hidden causes are addressed--In addition to the "hidden" small LDL, lipoprotein(a) is another biggie. Lp(a) tends to be the province of people with greater than average intelligence. I believe Mr. Clinton qualifies in this regard. I would not be at all surprised if Mr. Clinton conceals a substantial lipoprotein(a) pattern, worsened in the presence of small LDL.
--Controlling after-meal blood sugars--Postprandial (after-eating) blood sugars are a major trigger for atherosclerotic plaque growth. There are easy-to-follow methods to blunt the after-meal rise of blood sugar. (This will be the subject of an in-depth upcoming Track Your Plaque Special Report.)
--Thyroid normalization--It might be as simple as taking iodine; it might involve a little more effort, such as supplemental T3. Regardless, thyroid normalization is an easy means to substantially reduce coronary risk and slow or stop coronary plaque growth.

It's not that tough to take a few steps to avoid bypass surgery in the first place. Or, if you've already had a procedure, a few additional steps (of the sort your doctor will likely not tell you about) and you can make your first bypass your only bypass.

Comments (36) -

  • Cheryl

    2/12/2010 4:27:19 AM |

    Dr. Davis,

    You mentioned gelcap VitD. Isn't the liquid form administered via dropper easier to take, and better assimilated?

  • Marc

    2/12/2010 11:20:09 AM |

    Would Pres. Clinton have the courage to go against the grain of conventional wisdom? I don't know the answer to that question, my hunch is that it is just "easier" to get treated then to take charge and responsibility.

    My sister 46 (highly highly educated) will not listen to me at all. Won't even take the time to read some of the resources I point her to. Result? She just has been put on beta blockers for high blood pressure and a heart that beats to "fast and erratically" (her words)

    Thank you Doc., for the wealth of knowledge and information you so freely share.
    Have a great weekend.


  • Anonymous

    2/12/2010 2:47:26 PM |

    Thank you for this post!

    I am getting so tired of the pontificating statinators who practically blame the patient, or say there is no cure for heart disease, this can't be arrested, interventional cardiology is the only way, etc., while they either withhold the vital therapies you mentioned, or worse yet, don't even KNOW about them.

    I just keep wondering how such a smart guy can have so little intellectual curiosity about the origins and ALL the modes of treatment of the disease that has come to rule his life.

    Each of his events is a teaching moment, but unfortunately, what is being taught is intervention oriented, not oriented to stopping or reversing the progression of his disease, and that's just a pity.

    Dr. Davis, you are a voice in the wilderness. Keep on Tracking, because many of us ARE listening, even if Mr. Clinton and his doctors aren't!


  • Kyle Schneider

    2/12/2010 3:45:20 PM |

    Dr. Davis:

    Re: Vitamin D, why do you recommend only the gel capsules and not the liquid drops (Carlson's drops are in coconut oil I believe)? Much thanks, great great blog.

    -Kyle Schneider

  • Michael R. Eades, M.D.

    2/12/2010 4:12:39 PM |

    Great post, Dr. Davis.  Just about everything one needs to know to avoid heart disease all in one short list. Should be read by everyone. Thanks for taking the time to put it up.

  • Pascal

    2/12/2010 4:37:17 PM |

    Dr. Davis, it would appear that people with heart disease risk fall into two categories.
    1. Metabolic Syndrome: High TG, low HDL, high fasting glucose etc. In these people small LDL is very high contributing to heart disease risk.
    2. High Lp(a): These people may not have high blood glucose levels yet because of their high Lp(a) levels they are at risk for heart disease.

    Mr. Clinton's triglycerides were at around 53 many years back. While he clearly has coronary artery disease he does NOT appear to exhibit signs of metabolic syndrome, i.e. high TG, low HDL, high fasting glucose etc. There are many people in this category that do not have metabolic syndrome yet show advanced coronary artery disease (possibly due to a high Lp(a) level).

    Now Dr. Davis, you have stated that one of the ways to track small LDL and other risk coronary risk factors is to track blood sugars. However, in Mr. Clinton's case it appears (from his TG numbers) that both his fasting and possibly postprandial glucose levels are reasonable. His small LDL should thus be reasonably normal. He may very well have significantly high Lp(a) levels which appear to be independent of whether a person has metabolic syndrome. Therefore in Mr. Clinton's case heart disease appears to be a result of a high inherited Lp(a) than his value of small LDL.

    Please correct me if you disagree with any of the above.

  • escee

    2/12/2010 4:38:07 PM |

    It is a sad testament to cardiac care in the U.S., but I  completely agree with everything you commented on. I would be willing to bet that at his last check-up he was told he was doing  well and everything was fine.

    I wish you could do a Q&A session with his cardiologist and we could see just what had been done or not done.

  • Lori Miller

    2/12/2010 5:56:15 PM |

    Thanks for posting this. I'll print it and show it to my father.

    Slightly off topic, but I took advantage of Porter Hospital's $99 CT scan special since four generations of my family have had strokes. They seemed confused because I didn't have a doctor's order for the scan.

  • Barkeater

    2/12/2010 8:02:54 PM |

    I bet he trusted his heart to Lipitor, or some such statin, and presented with a nice low LDL-C of 105.  That is the average LDL-C of people hospitalized for heart issues (see G. Fonarow et al).  (I am not saying the statin didn't help him, but it ain't the be-all and end-all, and neither is low LDL-C.)

    Further in the direction pointed by Dr. Davis, I bet bubba's triglycerides are consistently well over 100, suggesting issues with carbs.  So, eating low fat would lead him (like others) to higher carbs, leading to where he ended up.  Probably wheat -- "healthy" whole wheat -- in particular.

    I hope he was taking niacin to do what help he could to HDL.

  • Tony

    2/12/2010 8:06:52 PM |

    I'd be interested in your thoughts on this recent article in The New York Times, particularly regarding calcification in blood vessels:

    excerpt: "The scientific community continues to debate the optimum level of vitamin D. In general, people are considered to be deficient if they have blood levels below 15 or 20 nanograms per milliliter. But many doctors now believe vitamin D levels should be above 30. The ideal level isn’t known, nor is it known at what point a person is getting too much vitamin D, which can lead to kidney stones, calcification in blood vessels and other problems."

  • Barkeater

    2/12/2010 8:11:29 PM |

    Celebrity medicine -- a celebrity gets the most esteemed doctors, but they may not be the best.

    April 14, 1865 -- Lincoln was shot in the head with a low velocity bullet.  His celebrity doctors then went probing around in the wound.  He died.  The case has been made that Civil War battlefield doctors had learned not to probe a head wound, and if Lincoln had been treated by one of those doctors there was a decent chance he could have survived.

    Dr. Davis and other preventative cardiologists are the battlefield doctors of the current generation, desperately seeking that which works and rejecting that which doesn't as fast as possible, in the midst of the carnage of heart disease.

  • Anonymous

    2/12/2010 8:47:12 PM |

    An old article of Clinton's health report just before the 1992 election:

    TC: 184
    TG: 59
    Normal BP
    Normal treadmill ECG


  • Anonymous

    2/12/2010 9:15:36 PM |

    Tell us more about thyroid normalization, please?

  • sonagi92

    2/12/2010 10:00:00 PM |

    "Unless Mr. Clinton runs naked in a tropical sun, he is vitamin D deficient. "

    Mr. Clinton, like me, has very pale skin that is not well-suited to the tropical sun.  I recall reading that either the Norwegians or the Swedes had very high levels of D owing to fish consumption.  I supplement with D, but my Irish ancestors did not, and they didn't get much sun either.

  • Ludwig Johnson

    2/12/2010 10:13:32 PM |

    MAGNESIUM. Thats what fmr prsident did not do. Did not take 500mg of Magnesium Oxide daily. With all the above he would have had his heart problem anyway. But not with Magnesium. Wigh is the mineral that his metabolic Type does not handle well. Cops of GENETICS.

  • Ludwig Johnson

    2/12/2010 10:13:32 PM |

    MAGNESIUM. Thats what fmr prsident did not do. Did not take 500mg of Magnesium Oxide daily. With all the above he would have had his heart problem anyway. But not with Magnesium. Wigh is the mineral that his metabolic Type does not handle well. Cops of GENETICS.

  • Anonymous

    2/13/2010 12:19:17 AM |

    Today the PMRI (Preventive Medicine Research Institute) announced:

    "Dr. Dean Ornish will appear on the Larry King Live show on CNN tonight to discuss new findings in heart disease."

    No doubt that he will be asked about his take on Mr. Clinton's situation.  I would hazard a guess that it will probably involve advocating an extremely low fat diet, liberal amounts of grains, but perhaps there will be new input from the Doctor, i.e. those "new findings".

  • bronkupper

    2/13/2010 1:38:05 AM |

    Hi Guys - Clinton's diet doctor is non else than "ultra low fat" Dr. Dean Ornish!

  • Anne

    2/13/2010 6:03:31 AM |

    A couple of years ago, the pastry chef at the White House published a book about his 25 year experience. I have heard that in the book he said Pres. Clinton was allergic to wheat and chocolate. I wonder if he has been sticking to a wheat/gluten free diet? Of course if you have a pastry chef, sugar intake is probably very high.

    I am working hard to make my bypass my last heart procedure. I am 10 yrs out and doing great...I hope.

  • Richard A.

    2/13/2010 6:08:50 AM |

    A Simple Health-Care Fix Fizzles Out


  • Anonymous

    2/13/2010 11:24:40 AM |

    Dr. Davis, did you get a chance to read this article?

  • Eddie Vos

    2/13/2010 2:09:51 PM |

    What is Clinton's homocysteine level??  That molecule, as opposed to cholesterol that is essential for health, is universally accepted as an artery structure corrosive and underlying cause of slowly building heart disease.

    The ONLY therapy to reduce it is a multivitamin pill with high levels of  the B vitamins.  Nobody argues this, nobody.

    So, they "bypassed" the problem areas but the disease process continues unabated.  This is the medical equivalent of bypassing Bin Laden by invading Iraq.

    Clearly, the amount and the diameter of LDL are not the problem; it is what you put INSIDE the LDL emulsion globules that matters: omega-3 or trans fat, good or evil.  Also, LDL is a Trojan Horse for homocysteine.  

    Clinton may be taking a statin to reduce the amount of LDL but that does not alter its composition or homocysteine level.  My independent take on cholesterol and homocysteine are here:
    http://www.health-heart.org/cholesterol.htm and

    Did Clinton take such multivitamin? Agree: a multi does not quickly repair existing damage but it slows the process of decline while some repair [first seen in fewer strokes] DOES take place.

  • Alfredo E.

    2/13/2010 2:58:35 PM |

    Very opportune post Dr. Davis. I would like to have an idea to how much fish oil you have to take per day in order to keep your omega 3 Index above 10%. Just a practical example.

  • Anonymous

    2/13/2010 3:47:53 PM |

    Some years ago, Clinton said he was following Dean Ornish's plan. He isn't much of an advertisment for the success of that.

    Jeanne S

  • Dr. William Davis

    2/13/2010 10:59:47 PM |

    I wasn't aware that Dean Ornish was part of the Clinton picture.

    It will be interesting to see what his comments will be.

    Just as lungs would be removed to treat tuberculosis, or heart disease treated with removal of the thyroid gland, so low-fat diets like Dr. Ornish's need to be sent to the junk heap of failed practices.

  • Mike

    2/14/2010 1:28:43 AM |

    The iodine suggestion makes me wonder if the push to eliminate table salt from diets is resulting in abnormally low iodine levels. Putting iodine in table salt was done to fix the problem of low iodine levels in the food that most Americans were eating. Eating lots of seafood will fix the iodine and omega-3 deficiencies.

  • Myron

    2/14/2010 5:56:09 PM |

    Nice summary of things to do for a really healthy cardiovascular life style.   Specifically for Billy, I'm suggesting that his chronic is Wheat Allergies [beer and bagles].  All chronic inflamation is cause for any degenerative disease, certainlly cancer, cardiovascular, arthritis etc.  

    Each person has to address their chronic inflammation--often it comes from the dirtiest part of the body, the mouth [some say the brain] both need to be well.

  • Anonymous

    2/14/2010 6:09:33 PM |

    John McDougall, MD has written an open letter to Bill Clinton (one of a series over the years) regarding the care he receives from his intervention-oriented cardiologists.

    I was absolutely right there with Dr. McDougall... well until the last two paragraphs, where Dr. McDougall gets to the point of his letter and advocates a "healthy low-fat diet" like Pritikin, McDougall, Ornish, or Esselstyn.

    OHHHHH... I thought Mr. Clinton HAS BEEN on such a program... under the tutelage of Dr. Ornish, who as much as said so on the Larry King program the other evening.

    Dr. McDougall makes some very strong points regarding the interventional care Mr. Clinton has received and will continue to receive... it's just that extremely low-fat, vegetarian to veganish focus where we diverge.


    Happy Valentines Day... may all our hearts be strong and healthy!


  • Myron

    2/14/2010 6:11:10 PM |

    Interesting comments, thank you for including the homocysteine and B vitamin perspective, and usually the allergy to chocolate is milk not the bean.    Bill should definitely eat more fish and more curry foods for the Turmeric, COX-2inhibitor.  Mag Oxide is great diarrhea, does it even absorb?   Chlorophyll is a chelated Mg and rebuilds the mitochondria.  Concerned about Abd. fats and Metabolic syndrome--get you Free Testosterone normalized!

  • Peter

    2/15/2010 2:04:34 PM |

    Re: wheat, it's curious to me that in northern India where people eat lots of wheat they have a fraction of the heart disease that they do in southern India, where people eat rice.  If anybody understands this, please reply.

  • Eduardo

    2/15/2010 4:30:35 PM |

    Dr. Davis: Your comment about a possible link between higher Lp(a) and higher intelligence sent me on a very brief ego trip, as tests showed that I do have both, but a more rational explanation may be that those of higher intelligence are more likely to get engaged in their own health, search for answers (as the readers here do) and find out that they have a elevated Lp(a), while others may never know they have it. Also, the March 2010 issue of Men's Health has a positive article about a pro-cycling team's switch to a gluten free diet, a favorite subject of yours, thanks for the blog.

  • Jen

    2/15/2010 9:13:09 PM |

    I would like to know more information regarding this statement;

    "Lp(a) tends to be the province of people with greater than average intelligence."

    Can you point me in a direction that would explain more about this?

    Thank you,

  • Amelia

    2/16/2010 1:19:54 AM |

    Re North India:  They do use quite a bit of mustard seed oil in N. Indian cuisine.


  • EddieVos

    2/16/2010 1:37:48 PM |

    Mustard seed oil has antiarrhythmic omega-3  It is in that respect like canola/rapeseed .. or any brassica family seed oil [turnip, et al].

    The northeners may also get more vitamin B12, allowing homocysteine to be lower, a MASSIVE problem in India, massive.  In New Delhi in early 20 year olds, homocysteine is about 3x higher than currently in Americans youth in their teens.

  • Bob

    2/16/2010 5:24:05 PM |

    I second JenE's question re lp(a) - correlation with IQ. Thanks!

  • buy jeans

    11/3/2010 9:14:28 PM |

    It's not that tough to take a few steps to avoid bypass surgery in the first place. Or, if you've already had a procedure, a few additional steps (of the sort your doctor will likely not tell you about) and you can make your first bypass your only bypass.