Since my heart disease diagnosis in 2011 and subsequent quadruple bypass surgery at the age of 40, I have learned a few things.I had no plan and it ended in a hospital. I do not want to go back.
“The imaging tests left little room for doubt. They showed thickened heart muscles and increased muscle mass in the left ventricle — both signs of heart disease. But the troubling scans didn’t belong to ailing adults. They belonged to obese children, some as young as 8. This was surprising and alarming to us, said Linyuan Jing, the lead author behind new findings being presented this week at an American Heart Association gathering in Florida. At such a young age, [children have] already developed clear evidence of heart disease.”
In autopsy studies of our GI’s who died in the Vietnam and Korean wars almost 80% at an average age of 20 years, had disease that could be seen without a microscope. Forty years later in 1999, a study of young persons between the ages of 16-34 years who have died of accidents, homicides and suicides, finds the disease is now ubiquitous. (Source: Esselstyn)
Prevention is no longer a realistic approach in the battle against heart disease. We must consider a different angle of attack.
We all have heart disease.
The number one reason we are not winning the battle against heart disease? We are focused on prevention. We need to reverse it, not prevent it.
By simply focusing on reversing heart disease versus preventing it a plethora of great things happen.
- We can diagnose everyone. No longer will the first symptoms – heart attack, angina, high blood pressure, high cholesterol – be the first time a sufferer learns of their disease.
- Reversing heart disease versus preventing it, moves the plan from defense to attack. No one ever moves forward on defense. Offense is the place to be when it comes to heart disease.
Here’s my plan.
Reverse My Heart Disease (RMHD), is a three step action plan designed to reverse the progression of heart disease at any age.
Step 1. Diagnosis
Heart disease is diagnosed via; EKG, Echocardiogram, Stress Test, Carotid & Intimal Thickness Test, CT Scan, Angiogram & Cardiac Catheterization.
The data generated from these tests is presented numerically, using graphs or x-ray like images. RMHD moves beyond, numerical data / graphs and presents heart disease in a completely novel way. It will use the latest advancements in data visualization tools to create 3D graphic rich animations of the disease (eg. Computed Tomography Angiogram).
By presenting the disease visually, we make it real. By aggregating the data over the course of a lifetime we will be able to visually milestone the disease from onset to reversal.
Step 2. Treatment
The RMHD plan will specifically outline treatment for the reversal of heart disease. It will incorporate an aggressive assault on the obvious causative factors – lifestyle and genetics – using medicine therapy in conjunction with nutrition and lifestyle changes. There is a growing base of studies validating the reversal of heart disease. Plant-based nutrition offers the most exciting results as the damage to the endothelium is reversed. Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Colin Campbell & Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn all doing exceptional work here and the RMHD plan looks to engage those doctors and build on their progress.
Step 3. Recovery
Imagine being able to see more – knowing what your body looks like inside – then watching in real time the progress you make as you reverse the disease.
The RMHD plan will visually show the reversal of the disease. We will use the same data visualization tools in the diagnosis phase to provide measurable achievements in the recovery phase. Compliance rates will drastically improve with the addition of an incentive based plan. The plan will also use an array of test to show improvement. We will regularly test inflammation, cholesterol and carotid arteries. All of these tests will aggregate to the central visualization model.
Why is this approach different?
The assumption is heart disease is preventable. However, as I pointed out earlier, the data suggests otherwise. By the time we are adolescents, we have heart disease. The limiting factor to the progression of the disease is treatment. We all have heart disease. By including everyone, we move to an offensive position.
525,000 Americans a year have their first heart attack. Over 1/3 have normal cholesterol numbers. The standard approach today misses 33% of heart attack sufferers! 50% of these people will die.
Too many people are waiting far too long to address the disease and the medical industry has no opportunity to reverse the disease prior to the episode (heart attack, angina, high BP, high cholesterol, etc.). The RMHD plan will provide the health care practitioner a template to discuss and diagnosis heart disease early in its progression. It will also outline a comprehensive plan versus relying solely on statin of blood pressure therapy to mask underlying causative factors.
More than one million Americans will be diagnosed with heart disease this year (heart attack, stent intervention or bypass surgery) and generally enter this phase with no plan other than medicine. The RMHD will provide this group a structured approach to reverse the disease; moving away from the standard practice of providing minimal data to sufferers. Other than checkups, this group of post-diagnosis patients has no formal plan of action offering an improvement in their condition. Without any formal goals, and no way to visually engage these patients, compliance to recommended treatments is low.
It is frustrating to see how many people are affected by heart disease. In most cases, heart disease is reversible. We have made enormous strides in the early diagnosis of cancer, diabetes and other diseases but heart disease seems to languish. Presumably because it is lifestyle related… I contend there is no comprehensive plan of action being presented.
I recently submitted this plan to an open application at One Brave Idea. I was inspired to think about my “brave idea” to end heart disease. The project is funded, $75M, and invited anyone to participate. Dr. Andy Conrad at Verily (Google), the American Heart Association and Astra Zeneca spearheaded the idea and funding. I hope whoever is awarded the team leader position, they will incorporate a macro approach – including the “best of the best” into an action plan.
On March 23, 2011, I had quadruple bypass surgery at the age of 40. It was singularly the most influential event in my life and in hindsight I would not change a thing. I am glad it happened. It took a life threatening situation to become the person I am today. My passion is helping people understand the situation they are in, and offer a plan of attack to reverse the course. I write a blog, visited by over 100,000 people at WholeFed.org. I also wrote a book; Instead of Flowers.