Being asked to write a book review is tricky. Authors hope you will be kind, while you hope the book at best might tell you something that every other book for heart patients hasn’t already told you. A review copy of the book Your Personal Guide: Angioplasty* sat on my coffee table for weeks, until one day, I finally got tired of looking at this latest addition to my living room decor and decided to give it a go. And within a very few pages, I learned some fascinating things I didn’t know before. Continue reading “10 things I didn’t know about angioplasty until I read this book”
A New York study has revisited the issue of stent-happy cardiologists implanting the tiny metal devices that help prop open – or revascularize – blocked coronary arteries. Essentially, this study(1) suggests that two-thirds of the justifications for this procedure in non-emergency patients were either “uncertain” or “inappropriate“. For any heart patient who has ever been told by those with the letters M.D. after their names that this type of cardiac intervention was recommended, it’s yet more troubling news. And the fact that this issue simply will not go away makes me wonder why cardiologists themselves are keeping suspiciously mum about the controversy.
When cardiologists do speak up, not surprisingly, many hasten to pre-emptively defend their interventional colleagues. An editorial that accompanied this study’s publication in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, for example, explained:
“There are certain to be patients rated as ‘inappropriate’ for which almost all competent cardiologists would recommend intervention.”
In other words, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. Continue reading “Did you really need that coronary stent?”
Newsweek once called his advice “the state of the art in psycho-cardiology” – a lifestyle regimen best known for the stringency of its ultra-low-fat diet, but with equal emphasis on exercise and stress reduction. And in The Atlantic, the famous preventive medicine guru Dr. Dean Ornish has written an essay called Why Health Care Works Better than Disease Care. Dr. O is founder and president of the non-profit Preventive Medicine Research Institute.
And his research studies were the first to claim that lifestyle changes can reverse cardiovascular disease without drugs.
He’s a rare duck: a man with the letters M.D. after his name who shuns the prescription pad and Big Pharma’s domination of what’s been called “marketing-based medicine”. Instead, he has long advocated preventing – and even reversing – heart disease without drugs or surgery through changing your lifestyle. He actually recommends two different diets: the prevention diet and the reversal diet. The reversal diet is a very strict low-fat diet designed for people who have diagnosed heart disease.
Alas, so far I have yet to meet any heart patient who has been successful in sticking to this extremely restrictive diet for any significant length of time. Continue reading “Is your doctor telling you to “meditate, eat veggies, walk, quit smoking?” If not, why not?”
During my heart attack, I was taken immediately from the E.R. to the O.R. for emergency treatment for a left anterior descending coronary artery that turned out to be 95% blocked. But, overwhelmed and terrified, I knew nothing of what was about to happen to me, even though I have a vague memory of the cardiologist explaining something to me before I was taken upstairs.
I could see his lips moving and I could hear sounds coming out of his mouth, but he could have been speaking Swahili. I don’t think I was capable of comprehension at the time. Everything I know about surviving what’s known as the “widowmaker” heart attack, I learned much, much later.
I’m not alone. This study suggested that heart patients believe that their cardiac interventions have far greater benefits than they actually do. Continue reading “Say what? Do patients really hear what doctors tell them?”