Secret Treatments are Not the Solution
Harold is energetic and highly motivated. His heart scan score of 997 really threw him for a loop: his view of himself as a healthy, slender, 58-year old clearly needed some revision. (A heart scan score, or coronary calcium score, this high is in the worst 1% of men in Harold's age group and predicts a heart attack risk of between 15-25% per year if no preventive action is taken.)
So Harold set himself on a quest to find new ways to help him deal with his heart disease risk. He sought out the "secret" information that other people didn't know about, "insider" information that couldn't be found in magazines, wasn't know by doctors.
He'd read that hawthorne was useful for opening coronary arteries, so he bought hawthorne at the health food store. He read that coenzyme Q10 was a little known way to strengthen the heart, so he added that. A Chinese doctor in town was advertising chelation therapy that "dissolved plaque," so he signed up for twice-a-week intravenous infusion at the doctor's holistic clinic of Eastern medicine for $125 per session. He'd heard that testosterone opened up arteries, so he purchased chrysin, ***** goat weed, yohimbine, and saw palmetto. He was suspicious of many conventional medicines, but he didn't want to ignore his LDL cholesterol of 172 mg/dl. So he added guggulipid and a combination cholesterol-reducing product that contained about 10 ingredients.
Harold pursued his quest, often adding new agents that came with promising stories. One year later, Harold eagerly got another heart scan, certain that his extraordinary efforts were sure to yield a dramatic drop in his heart scan score. The score: 1372, a 37% increase.
Harold was thousands of dollars poorer and several steps closer to taking the plunge, allowing a potentially fatal disease to cut his life short.
The message: There's no need to re-invent the wheel. There are no top-secret ways to control risk for heart disease and seize better control over atherosclerotic plaque. There are plenty of people, however, willing to take your money.
Don't neglect the basics. You can't do calculus until you learn how to add, subtract, and divide. Correct basic cholesterol numbers such as high LDL cholesterol or low HDL cholesterol, as well as high triglycerides. (In our coronary plaque reversal program, we advocate achieving 60-60-60 in basic lipids: LDL 60 mg/dl, HDL 60 mg/dl, triglycerides 60 mg/dl.) Correct blood pressure and blood sugar; identify hidden lipoprotein patterns like small LDL and Lp(a); reducing weight to ideal weight, and taking fish oil for omega-3 fatty acid supplementation are additional important strategies.
Most recently, the addition of vitamin D (we try and achieve blood levels to 50-70 ng/ml) is proving to be a powerful facilitator of correcting cholesterol patterns, reducing blood pressure, and reducing blood sugars. It has jumped to the top of our list of strategies to use to gain control over risk for heart attack and progressive heart disease.
Harold would have been far more likely to have slowed or stopped the increase in his heart scan score following this approach than the mis-guided advice he received. (Harold's failure does not necessarily mean that all the supplements he used were worthless-he was just using many of them for the wrong purpose.)
You don't need to waste your time with the rants of some supplement-hawker eager to sell you the next cure for heart disease. I'm often amazed at the number of people who claim to have the next secret cure for heart disease, yet have never even taken care of someone with heart disease. Would you allow someone to try and repair your car if they've never actually laid their hands on an engine before? Then why would you entrust such a person with your health?