You're at the cutting edge 26. March 2007 William Davis (3) If you're a participant in the Track Your Plaque program for atherosclerotic plaque regression, you are at the cutting edge of health. Few physicians give this issue any thought. Chances are, for instance, that if you were to bring up the subject of reversal of heart disease to your primary care physician, you'd get a dismissive "it's not possible," or " Yeah, it's possible but it's rare." Ask a cardiologist and you might make a little more progress. He/she might tell you that Lipitor 80 mg per day or Crestor 40 mg per day might achieve a halt in plaque growth or a modest reduction of up to 5-6%. If they've tried this strategy, they would likely also tell you that hardly anybody can tolerate these doses for long due to muscle aches. I'd estimate that 1 of 10 of my colleagues would even be aware of these studies. Both groups are, however, reasonably adept at diagnosing chest pain, an everyday occurrence in hospitals and offices. Chest pain, for them, is a whole lot more interesting. It holds the promise of acute catastrophe and all its excitement. It also holds the key to lots of hospital revenues. Did you know that 80% of all internal medicine physicians are now employees of hospitals? They're also commonly paid on an incentive basis. More revenues, more money. Ask Drs. Dean Ornish or Caldwell Esselstyn about reversal of heart disease and they will tell you that a very low-fat diet (<10% of calories)can do it. That's true if you use a flawed test of coronary disease like heart catheterization (angiograms) or nuclear stress tests (Ornish calls them "SPECT"). It would be like judging the health of the plumbing in your house by the volume of water flowing out the spigot. It flows even when the pipes are loaded with rust. In the Track Your Plaque experience, extreme low-fat diets (i.e., high wheat, corn, and rice diets) grotesquely exagerrate the small LDL particle size pattern, among the most potent triggers for coronary plaque growth. This approach also makes your abdomen get fatter and fatter and inches you closer to diabetes. Triglycerides go up, inflammation increases. If you were able to measure the rust in the pipes, that would be a superior test. You can measure the "rust" in your "pipes," the atherosclerotic plaque in your coronary arteries, using two methods: CT heart scans or intracoronary ultrasound. Take your pick. I'd choose a heart scan. It's safe, accurate, inexpensive. I've performed many intracoronary ultrasounds for people in the midst of heart attacks or some other reason to go to the catheterization laboratory. But for well people, without symptoms, who are interested in identifying and tracking plaque? That's the place for heart scans. In our program, 18-30% reductions in heart scan scores are common.