A Saner, Gentler Approach to Heart Disease
Julian Whitaker, MD
Medicine has always been peppered with placebos—therapies that are believed to be effective, even when they are not. Over the years, physicians and patients alike have enthusiastically adopted a number of therapies in the belief that they were beneficial, only to find out later that they were ineffective or even harmful. Examples include bloodletting, routine tonsillectomy and hysterectomy, and more drugs than you can shake a stick at.
The two most horrifically expensive, dangerous, and popular placebos today, which are widely—but erroneously—thought to prevent heart attacks and save lives, are bypass and angioplasty. Every year, more than a million patients are frightened into these procedures, despite the fact the scientific literature clearly shows that, in most cases, they should not even be considered.
Please be assured that this is not a difference of opinion on the relative merits of bypass and angioplasty. These statements are based on cold, hard, and indisputable facts published in the most respected medical journals. Anyone who takes an unbiased look at the research will come to the same conclusion—that the heart surgery industry is perpetuated by a bunch of charlatan physicians whose egregious activities can only be explained by simple lust for ill-gotten gain. Let’s look at the facts.
Surgery Makes No Sense
In 1977, the first controlled clinical trial comparing bypass surgery to conservative medical therapy was published. After five years of follow-up, the patients who had undergone bypass fared no better than those who had been treated conservatively. The annualized death rate in both groups was only 3 percent per year.
This should have put an end to bypass. However, as Eugene Braunwald, MD, the chief of cardiology at Harvard, warned at that time, an entire industry was being built around this procedure, and it was gaining “a momentum and constituency” that would be increasingly hard to stop. He certainly got that right.
Five years down the line, an even more damning study was published. The Coronary Artery Surgery Study (CASS) involved 780 patients, half who had bypass surgery and half who received drug therapy. This time, the annual death rate was 1.6 percent for patients receiving medical therapy and 1.1 percent for those who underwent bypass. It didn’t matter whether patients had blockages in one, two, or three coronary arteries—the differences in death rates between all surgical and medical groups were statistically insignificant. There wasn’t even a trend of benefit!
A Feeding Frenzy
I know many of you might be suspicious of studies published more than 25 years ago. Yes, surgical techniques have improved and surgery-related death rates have dropped. But that’s beside the point. Heart disease and the patients who suffer with it have not changed during that time any more than the Earth has gotten flat since it was discovered to be round.
Patients with serious heart disease who are treated without surgical intervention have an annual death rate under 2 percent. It’s hard to improve upon a survival rate this high (over 98 percent per year). Bottom line, surgery cannot save the life of someone who isn’t going to die. It only can, and often does, make matters worse!
Angioplasty is no better. All of the studies that discredit bypass are applicable to angioplasty—perhaps to a greater degree since angioplasty is often done in patients with “less severe heart disease” and even higher odds of survival. In my opinion, ballooning up arteries and sticking in paraphernalia is just plain stupid.
CASS—plus the dozens of subsequent studies comparing bypass, angioplasty, or stents with conservative medical therapy that came up with similar conclusions—should have made the use of any invasive technique to open up blocked arteries a criminal offense. But, of course, that hasn’t happened. Modern invasive cardiology has become a feeding frenzy, and the waters are churning with the blood of patients undergoing horrific procedures that have no possibility of saving their lives.
Why Do Bypass and Angioplasty Persist?
Why then has the invasive heart surgery industry not only endured but flourished—to the tune of more than $100 billion per year? As you can see, it’s certainly not because of its scientific validity. No, it’s because of the industry’s standard operating procedure of terrifying patients into submission.
When white-coat authority figures tell you that you’re going to die unless you submit to bypass surgery, you have the surgery! I see this over and over again in patients who come to Whitaker Wellness. Last year, I told you about Dorothy, who was hospitalized after a mild heart attack and ordered to have immediate angioplasty. When she declined, the hospital staff began a no-holds-barred attack to convince her otherwise.
One group of doctors after another confronted this 72-year-old woman with dire warnings that without the procedure, she would “go into full cardiac arrest” or “die at any moment.” They even sicced psychiatrists on her, insinuating that she was crazy for not following their advice. It ended only when Dorothy’s son threatened to throw them out. But Dorothy didn’t cave in. She came to my clinic a few days later, received our noninvasive treatments, and within a month was symptom free. Today, over a year after her hospitalization, she feels great and is back to her normal activities.
The Noninvasive Approach
Just what does this natural treatment approach entail? We treat patients at Whitaker Wellness with a therapeutic low-fat diet, a prudent exercise program, and a robust supplement regimen that includes antioxidants, coenzyme Q10, ribose, carnitine, fish oil, and extra magnesium. We also offer two powerful therapies for coronary artery disease: enhanced external counterpulsation (EECP) and hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT).
EECP, a noninvasive mechanical therapy developed at Harvard in the 1960s, is sometimes referred to as a natural bypass because it increases collateral circulation (blood vessels that naturally form around blocked arteries). EECP also raises levels of nitric oxide, which dilates the arteries and improves blood flow. In a survey of 4,597 patients with severe heart disease—most of whom had a history of heart attack, angioplasty, and/or bypass—85 percent of those who completed a full course of 35 EECP treatments had reductions in chest pain. Furthermore, their heart attack and death rates were significantly lower than those of patients who did not complete their treatment course.
HBOT complements EECP’s benefits. When 100 percent oxygen is breathed in a pressurized environment, it dramatically increases the delivery of oxygen, promotes the growth of new blood vessels, and mobilizes the body’s stem cells. The end result, particularly when the two therapies are combined, is dramatic improvements in circulation, chest pain, and exercise tolerance.
If you or a loved one is faced with a recommendation for bypass or angioplasty, you need to remember two things. First, according to the medical literature, the overwhelming majority of patients in your situation has no business undergoing either of these procedures and will receive no benefits. Stand firm and, unless there are extenuating circumstances, such as a significant blockage in the left main coronary artery, just say no.
Second and equally important, despite the doom-and-gloom warnings, you do have options. As the scientific literature illustrates, in most cases, any other treatment approach would be preferable to these invasive interventions. You may elect to simply stick with a drug regimen. Or you may come to Whitaker Wellness or go to another clinic for EECP and other therapies. Whatever your decision, you should make lifestyle changes and begin a supplement program.
I can confidently claim—based on verifiable scientific data—that if all heart surgeons and catheter pushers took six months off from work, the death rate from cardiovascular disease would plummet.
- Suggested daily doses of the recommended supplements, taken in divided amounts, are: coenzyme Q10 200–300 mg, ribose 15 g, carnitine 1,000–3,000 mg, fish oil 1,500 mg of EPA/DHA, and magnesium 500–1,000 mg. Look for these supplements in health food stores, online, or order by calling (800) 810-6655.
- To learn about receiving EECP, HBOT, and other therapies at the Whitaker Wellness Institute, call (866) 944-8253.
- Coronary artery surgery study (CASS): a randomized trial of coronary artery bypass surgery. Survival data. Circulation. 1983 Nov;68(5):939–950.
- Jancin B. External counterpulsation reduces mortality. Internal Medicine News. 2008 May 15;41(10):30.
Modified from Health & Healing with permission from Healthy Directions, LLC. Photocopying, reproduction, or quotation strictly prohibited without written permission from the publisher. To subscribe to Health & Healing, click here.