Accidental Health

"I shall never have smallpox for I have had cowpox; I shall never
have an ugly pockmarked face."

Such was the idle comment made by a milkmaid to Edward Jenner in 1768 when Jenner was 19, a remark that later prompted his investigations into using isolates of cowpox injected into humans as the first vaccination against the devastations of the European epidemic of smallpox.

(A caricature of Jenner administering cowpox vaccine to people, causing them to sprout bovine appendages. Image courtesy Wikipedia and the Library of Congress.)

When I look back, something similar has happened here.

Although the Track Your Plaque program is intended to stop and reverse coronary plaque using the only available means of tracking coronary plaque, i.e., heart scans, an unintended panel of benefits follow:

--People lose weight, often dramatically
--People gain greater energy
--Thinking is clearer, emotions more stable
--Sleep is deeper
--Bone density increases
--Physical strength and coordination improve
--Winter blues dissipate
--Blood sugar drops dramatically
--Blood pressure drops

Cholesterol (lipid) panels also settle to values that most physicians deem impossible or impractical, given our target of 60:60:60, i.e., LDL 60 mg/dl or less, HDL 60 mg/dl or higher, triglycerides 60 mg/dl or less. And medications are not always necessary to achieve these values. (When I show these values to my colleagues, they declare them flukes, unobtainable only in select people with high doses of medications.)

I didn’t set out to find the next weight loss solution, nor the key to boundless energy. My goal was "simpler": create a program of heart health. I am, after all, a cardiologist.

I was so intently focused on achieving incremental improvements over the steps leading to heart disease prevention that I failed to recognize the profound phenomena that accompanied it: people were quicker, smarter, thinner, and healthier.

In other words, I believe that we have inadvertently created a program of super health and performance.

Ironically, most people don't want to talk about heart disease, let alone reversal of heart disease. They do want to talk about getting thinner, feeling more energetic, living longer, better cholesterol values, etc.

Perhaps there's a lesson in this.

Comments (2) -

  • Anonymous

    10/9/2008 1:05:00 AM |

    Dr. Davis:
    You are providing miraculous advice for people who have lost all hope for the medical profession and all hope for recovery from their ills.

    I come from a very long line of heart-attack/stroke victims. My entire family on my Dad's side has died (young and middle age) from heart related ailments. I myself had a stroke at age 46.

    Lying in bed in the hospital, thanking whatever gods came to my rescue that my mind seemed intact even though my body was not responding as well as I'd hoped, my priorities shifted. I had only one goal, to recover and find a way to become healthy again.

    It was a long road. The neurologist could give me no advice on diet. I started shunning all doctors and started researching and reading all I could on nutrition. I was sure it was nutrition. Once I discovered the low-carb community and implemented low-carbing in my life, I was saved. And the truth shall set you free and it did for me.

    Dr. Davis, you are a pioneer who saw that conventional methods were not working with your patients. You did not blindly turn your back on them and continue doing what almost every doctor was doing, you began your own truth-seeking journey.

    For this you stand with very few other doctors who did the right thing and I thank you. It is because of you and others like you that I am still alive.

  • Joe D. Goldstrich, MD, FACC

    10/9/2008 12:18:00 PM |

    Nathan Pritikin had a similar experience almost 50 years ago. He started his program to try to reverse heart disease and ended up naming his facility the "Pritikin Longevity Center" after seeing a wide range of dramatic health benefits. Pritikin's coronary arteries were free of plaque at his autopsy. Diet and exercise rule!!