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Vitamin D and Plaque Regression Data Reported at FASEB Meetings
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An extraordinary thing happened about 2 1/2 years ago.



While the Track Your Plaque program for coronary plaque regression has been underway for nearly 10 years, about 2 1/2 years ago we witnessed an extraordinary surge in success - bigger, faster, and more frequent drops in heart scan scores.



Up until then, we did witness successful reversal of coronary plaque by heart scan scores by our approach of 60-60-60 lipid targets, identifying and correcting hidden lipoprotein abnormalities, adding omega-3 fatty acids, etc. We were planning to publish the data to validate this approach, but then . . .



Heart scan scores starting dropping not just 2%, or 8% . . . but 24%, 30%, 50% and more. We also began to see a larger proportion of people achieving these larger successes.



Why? I attribute the surge in success to the addition of vitamin D. With vitamin D added to the mix of strategies in Track Your Plaque, HDL cholesterols went up much higher, LDL dropped further, blood sugars dropped, blood pressures dropped. People felt better, had more energy, gained more clarity in thought. And heart scan scores dropped more readily.



Unfortunately, it also meant that the preceding 8 or so years of data lacked experience with supplementation of vitamin D. The hundreds of participants in the Track Your Plaque program had not, until then, included vitamin D in their program.



So I decided to start from scratch (from the standpoint of data collection, not for the participants). That also meant that the preceding years of experience went unreported, though even the original data minus vitamin D far exceeded the results of that achieved in conventional heart disease prevention.  The study was presented at the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Meeting in San Diego this April.  Protocol requires the full study to be embargoed until it is published, however, the abstract appears below.

Progression and Regression of Coronary Calcium Score

William R. Davis1 and Susie W. Rockway2

1 Medical Director, Milwaukee Heart Scan, Wauwatosa, WI

2 Clinical Nutrition, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL

ABSTRACT

Serial calcium scoring obtained by CT scanning has been proposed as a means of following progression or regression of coronary atherosclerotic plaque. In an open-label study, we combined pharmaceutical lipid treatment with dietary supplementation in patients presenting with coronary calcium (Agatston) scores ≥ 50 to test the impact on progression or regression of annual plaque growth as measured by serial coronary calcium scoring in a cohort of 45 men and women. Treatment included statin therapy, niacin, the American Heart Association Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) diet, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D-3 supplementation at levels to achieve target fasting lipid values of: LDL cholesterol ≤ 60 mg/dl, HDL ≥ 60 mg/dl and triglycerides of 60 ≤ mg/dl and a serum level of 25-OH-vitamin D3 of ≥ 50 ng/ml. All atherogenic lipids were significantly reduced when tested 1 to 2 years after treatment (p<0.001). Total cholesterol dropped by 23%, LDL-c by 37%, TG by 29% while HDL significantly (p<0.001) increased by 18%. Unexpectedly, 21 subjects demonstrated reduced calcium plaque burden as evidenced by a percent decrease in coronary calcium scores (ranges from 0 to –64%), while 21 experienced slowing of progression (mean 12%), defined as less than 30% increase in calcium score (ranges 0.95% to 29%), while only 3 subjects continued to progress at a rate greater than 30%. In conclusion, though wide variation in response following this approach is seen, substantial regression of atherosclerotic coronary plaque using a CT calcium scoring approach is achievable with treatment efforts that extend beyond LDL cholesterol reduction.

Discussion

Abstracts are simply meant to telegraph, in the briefest of words, the results of an experience. There is far more to this story, of course, that will be related in a future full publication. (Unfortunately, I cannot say more than that because of the restrictions placed on discussing soon-to-be-published data. We will post details at the appropriate time.)



I would add several footnotes to the spare words of the abstract:



1) We did not include our data with small LDL or lipoprotein(a) for the sake of simplicity. These patterns may have been at least part of the explanation behind the few cases of failure to substantially slow the increase in heart scan scores.

2) Many of the less quantitative, subtle nuances of plaque reversal were not discussed, such as the role of optimism vs. pessimism, blood pressure effects with exercise, inflammatory influences, etc. Such are the limitations of data reporting.

3) As our numbers grow, we will need to re-examine the experience. Since at this point we are not “blinding” people to their treatment program, restricting use of other supplements (like vitamin K2 or phosphatidylcholine), the experience remains “real world.” It is admittedly not as “clean” as a drug company-sponsored drug vs. placebo trial. Among the projects for the future is the Track Your Plaque full spectrum of treatments vs. a statin “control” group. However, once people hear what the Track Your Plaque treatment entails, it is very difficult to persuade them to accept a statin-only treatment program. Nor would a drug company sponsor a study that is likely to make them look like a distant second choice.



The data I presented at the Experimental Biology Proceedings (FASEB 2008) in San Diego therefore includes only experience with the group of participants who incorporated vitamin D into their program, with data collected until mid-2007. The number of experiences is therefore modest. Even since mid-2007, it has grown significantly, though this is not reflected in the abstract.



However, the Track Your Plaque experience, as reported, far exceeds any prior experience in coronary plaque regression. The argument in favor of going farther than the statin-drug-only conventional path for heart disease prevention is gaining momentum.


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