Heart disease is reversible

In a previous post, Take this survey: I double-dare you, I posed a challenge:

Ask your doctor: Is heart disease reversible? Their answer:

1) No. Heart disease is definitely not reversible.

2) Yes, in rare instances, like lightning striking twice.

3) Yes, of course it is! Let's talk about how to do it!

I predicted that few readers of this blog would respond. I also predicted that the few who did would respond with the first answer, Heart disease is definitely not reversible. After all, in nearly all medical practices, the only parameters routinely followed to track risk for heart disease are LDL cholesterol and blood pressure. A measure of the disease itself (i.e., coronary atherosclerotic plaque) is not followed. So how can your doctor actually tell whether heart disease is reversed or not? When I engage in this conversation with colleagues, it goes no farther than rolled eyes or a snort. In my experience, talking about reversal of heart disease is a wasted effort.

To my great surprise, this simple survey received a total of 177 responses. Even more surprising, 122 (69%) of respondents chose number 3, claiming that their doctor said that heart disease is reversible.

Overall results:

1--31 responses (17.5%)

2--24 responses (13.5%)

3--122 responses (69%)

Now wait a minute: Where is the disconnect? Why are doctors saying that heart disease is reversible, yet not following this concept in practice? Contrary to the survey results, I have yet to meet a patient who said their doctor was trying to reverse their heart disease. Of course, this may be a skewed population, but I find it hard to believe that the prevailing view is that heart disease is reversible.

Anyway, this simple survey cannot settle the why or how, nor can it suggest just how prevalent this opinion is.

I am encouraged by these results. If true, it means that the message that heart disease is a reversible process is spreading. It may be make-believe heart disease reversal as preached by Dr. Dean Ornish or claimed by statin drug manufacturers. It may be the hocus-pocus of practices like chelation, or scams like nattokinase. But perhaps the seed of this notion has been planted in the minds of the medical community.

I'd be interested in hearing from the respondents who reported that their doctor said heart disease is reversible. How exactly are they going about achieving reversal?

Comments (10) -

  • Anonymous

    2/13/2008 3:33:00 PM |

    "How I voted": After diet, exercise,Lowest Lipitor(1/2 a 10)and 1500 Niacin(high LP a)....my Cardio told me I was the only one of his patients able get to counts so low. And at that level he felt I would have "some chance for a little reversal". HDL70/LDL34/TR32/LPa30. I gave him a "2" because his tone of voice sounded forced to say "some chance" like he wasn't really convinced. Love your blog info....many thanks!

  • JJC

    2/13/2008 3:53:00 PM |

    Dr. Davis,

    I don't think there is a lot of inconsistency. I first got a scan because my Dr. was frustrated with me for not wanting to do the statin and niacin and lisinopril that he thought were needed. So he challenged me to get a heartscan. I'd never heard anything about them before. Once I came back motivated he was delighted. So, the only reason I got a scan was that I had a Dr. who already thought that heart disease was reversible, though to a more limited degree than you have documented.

    Before I got the scan I found your book and site and took your advice on EBT.

    When I talked to the cardiologists in the HMO, the first and supposedly the most flexible one told me that it was not reversible. The others were downhill from there. The primary care Dr's of 4 close friends that I keep bugging on this issue all either deny the usefulness of scans and/or maintain that niacin is useless if you are on a statin. (I guess they don't even read the NYtimes.)

    So, I think you got the responses you did because one way people come to this program is through Drs. that already know a bit more than the average Dr. about these issues. I find it very hard to motivate friends on these issues if their docs are not supportive, even if they have terrible scan scores.


  • vin

    2/13/2008 4:59:00 PM |

    May be the result is not such a surprise because the question is not answered by a random group.

    Most of the people who read this blog are already aware that heart disease is reversible. Majority with heart problems are not aware and are not told by their doctors that such a possiblity exists.

    It would be interseting to find out what course the "reversible" doctors take to achieve reversal: is it drugs to lower LDL and raise HDL or low fat diet or TYP.

  • Anonymous

    2/13/2008 5:12:00 PM |

    Hello Dr.Davis
    I responded heart disease is reversible because of data that I have read and personal experience on body's ability to heal.

    Also just a thought that your survey results might be weighted because people reading this blog would tend to be better informed. They also must think there are positive results in proactive (and preventive) health management to invest time in reading this blog, etc..

  • Anonymous

    2/13/2008 5:20:00 PM |

    One other thought - it seems that doctors do prescribe activities that they think reverses ( or at least halts) heart disease - such as quit smoking, lose weight, exercise, etc..
    But they aren't paid to educate - they are paid to treat disease (as you have pointed out so many times; there is no money in prevention).
    It seems like we need a new mandatory addition to the public education system.

  • Anonymous

    2/13/2008 9:03:00 PM |

    I am subscribed to the newsfeed of this blog, and try not to skip over anything you post. But perhaps I missed something, because you bashed nattokinase in a few of your recent posts.

    Isn't nattokinase also called natto, which is high in K2? Didn't you post about how it could be promising here:

    Maybe I didn't understand the December post, or maybe you've changed your views on it.

    Well back to this posts theme: my parents dropped in from their motorhome-gypsy trip, and my father told me about his GP, who's a DO, that has him taking the supplements you recommend, as well as on a low-glycemic diet to control his newly diagnosed diabetes.

    His fasting sugars now range between 110-120s without pills or insulin, but he didn't know his cholesterol profile. I'll have to follow up with him via snail mail to ask him about that, now that I have their national forwarding address (it's difficult to finish a conversation with him with interruptions from my mother -- I asked my father his DO/GP's name, but instead I got my mother's doctor's name for her condition, sigh).

    I mentioned K2 to him, so now I'm wondering if I should tell him to forget it.

  • Anonymous

    2/14/2008 1:35:00 PM |

    Hi Doc:
    My cardiologist says that heart disease can be reversed by driving down LDL, pure and simple.  He has no interest in any other numbers.  To accomplish this he prescribes statins, and has not counseled me about any other lifestyle changes.

  • Anonymous

    2/14/2008 5:26:00 PM |

    I agree with what others have said.  The people who would take time to read your blog are better informed and probably seeking out better than average medical advice.  My doctor is very proactive on many things and not just a pill pusher.  In fact I would not continue to visit a doctor that is just pushing pills, surprisingly to me, there still seems to be a lot of people in the country that think that because their doctor has perscribed them something it is totally safe.

  • buy jeans

    11/3/2010 3:15:29 PM |

    Now wait a minute: Where is the disconnect? Why are doctors saying that heart disease is reversible, yet not following this concept in practice? Contrary to the survey results, I have yet to meet a patient who said their doctor was trying to reverse their heart disease. Of course, this may be a skewed population, but I find it hard to believe that the prevailing view is that heart disease is reversible.

  • johndouglas

    11/8/2010 7:54:20 PM |

    I appreciate the concern which is been rose.This is a wonderful opinion. The things mentioned are unanimous and needs to be appreciated by everyone.

    Well, it’s amazing. The miracle has been done. Hat’s off. Well done, as we know that “hard work always pays off”, after a long struggle with sincere effort it’s done.

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