Heart disease reversed

If you don't know where else to post, try here.

Moderators: JeffN, f1jim, John McDougall, Heather McDougall, carolve

Postby Starchyme » Mon May 11, 2009 6:20 pm

Bob, you have done so well. You are definitely a star McDougaller. Wishing you continued success. Many thanks for sharing your inspirational story with us.
Happy McDougalling!
User avatar
Posts: 964
Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2009 11:56 am

Postby Purdy » Mon May 11, 2009 7:02 pm

I'm not sure what a "large defect" is.

I'm curious what the doctor said about it both in the past test and after this current test.

Other than him not wanting for you to get overly confident, what did he say about why this "large defect" did not seem to appear as it had in the past test?

He must have said something specifically about it.
What was it....where did it go.....why did it go........what does it's disappearance mean........

Just wondering.

More details?

Postby SactoBob » Tue May 12, 2009 12:02 am

I suspect that the problem is that neither of us understands this test in the same manner that the cardiologist does, and I am somewhat "interpreting" what he said as I understand it. There is no question on the bottom line that the test has shown obvious improvement.

After the first test, I told him that I did not want the recommended heart catheter and stent and lifetime drugs because I was on a reversal program. He said not to count on success since he had only seen test improvement on occasion, and then only by very little. But here, he was talking about nearly a complete resolution on the test.

He cautioned me that just because the defect does not show does not mean that I don't have any occlusion of the coronary artery, but that I don't have one now that is bad enough to show on the Cardiolite test.

I'm not sure what a "large defect" is. I'm curious what the doctor said about it both in the past test and after this current test.

He told me that it was a very obvious occlusion.
Here is some of the report from the first test:

FINDINGS: Review of stress and rest myocardial perfusion images
demonstrates a large region of mild-to-moderate perfusion deficit extending
along the inferior and lateral walls at stress, not apparent at rest. There
appears to be wall motion abnormality in the lateral wall at stress which
appears less prominently during rest. Overall, the left ventricular ejection
fraction decreases from a value of 61% at rest to 57% at stress. Apart from
the lateral wall, there are no other gross wall motion abnormalities.



By "reversal", I think they are talking about surgery. So now I am mildly abnormal instead of abnormal. I don't have a copy of the report yet, but should have it soon. That may clear things up a bit. The doctor talked about a large defect that had completely resolved and one moderate defect that was now minor. Perhaps I misunderstood a bit or maybe he read the tests somewhat differently than the first doc who did the test. By defect, of course, I am talking about occlusion, which is almost certainly from plaque.

As I currently understand it, I had a large area of occlusion which did not show on the second test, and that the only blemish was a minor abnormality in one wall.

Other than him not wanting for you to get overly confident, what did he say about why this "large defect" did not seem to appear as it had in the past test?

Do you understand how the test works? As I understand it, you are challenged on the treadmill to max heart rate if you can achieve it, and then the nuclear material in injected. In a normal person, all the areas of the heart should take up the radioactive marker dye, and they can tell what is going on by where the dye does not get taken in as it should. In other words, if there is no dye where it is expected, the assumption is that a blockage is apparent, and they can tell how bad it is by the pattern of dye absorbtion.

He must have said something specifically about it.
What was it....where did it go.....why did it go........what does it's disappearance mean......

No, he was not looking at it as an experiment. He was doing the test to see if he was again going to push surgery at me. Instead the test showed that I do not need surgery and am getting better. The disapperance means that areas of my heart which were not getting enough blood supply during exercise before are now getting more - which correlates with my higher work ability and lack of pain this time compared to the vascular weakness and pain I had last time. I think the reason it "dissapeared" is that my body has reveresed the athersclerosis. It probably hasn't disappeared in the sense of total healing - the test just does not show it. I don't know how sensitive the test is to occlusion. The doctor told me that he was confident that my arteries were still occluded - just not enough to give me symptoms or to show on the test.

As for the "confidence", that is my guess. He seemed to me vaguely perplexed and a bit troubled by the test. This is a very unusual case for him, so he has probably not dealt with this issue before. That is just my assessment. He did not want to talk a lot about it other than to tell me what it showed and that he was not pushing the surgery which he thought I really needed last time. He is totally unaware of Dr. Esselstyn and Dr. McDougall and I am sure that he was humoring me when he gave me a chance to try lifestyle modification before surgery. I am really not concerned about his beliefs or attitudes. He told me what I wanted to know. I hope that he is interested enough to do some research himself.

One question I forgot to ask was whether he had ever seen such a turnaround as this. I suspect not, because he told me before not to expect a change in the test with lifestyle, and that he had never seen a really significant improvement on this test. Now he has if he accepts that the first test was valid. He asked some questions about my experience in the first test and if anything seemed to go wrong, or if my symptoms did not correlate with the results - sorry, but they correlated perfectly last time and this time too.

If you check the illustrations in Dr. Esselstyn's book, my case is very typical. He has lots of PET scans showing rapid and significant improvements after starting his program.

Postby Purdy » Tue May 12, 2009 2:26 am

Bob, thanks for the extensive post. I'm sure I understand very little of the specifics but it did lead me to some interesting pages... regarding Reversible Perfusion Defects...

While I still have near zero understanding, I now see the kind of images the doctors are looking at.

http://brighamrad.harvard.edu/education ... tents.html

Lots of images under Reversible Perfusion Defects...

And from Stanford a explanation of defects..

"There are different types of radionuclides. When one type of radionuclide is used, areas of the myocardium that have blocked or partially blocked arteries will be seen on the scan as "cold spots," or "defects," because these areas will be unable to take in the radionuclide into the myocardium."

Like you indicated, I think reversible defects are those that they think they can bring back to a better condition by surgery or stents, whereas fixed defects are those which will remain as defects due to too much damage having occurred.

Well, I can see it would take lots of reading to understand it all.
Hopefully you can continue to reverse the defects, thus permanently avoiding the need for stents or surgery.
I think doctors see little hope because they seldom encounter a patient who will become really serious about dietary change and of course they really don't offer that knowledge even IF they know it. Even if the doctor and patient both believed in the possibility, I'm thinking less than one patient in 20 would fully comply with the necessary dietary changes.
They seem happy to put in stents or do bypass, even if studies don't show longer term advantages. Besides, lots more money in stents and surgery. Veggies are low profit. I'd say you could get a 100 year supply of veggies for the cost of one coronary bypass.

Keep up the good work. Success leads to even greater motivation.
I have about 50% of my neighbors who could use the same advice but of course will never take the steps.
Only last week, members of the local church came by my house to ask what more they thought the church could offer.
I said the best thing they could offer would be dietary advice for their members since so many have diabetes and heart risks.
Not sure they do such but having been to the church sponsored "health faire" a couple years ago, I know they need it.
I'd say about 70% of the members were obese and I'd guess about 30% have diabetes.

OH well..... I think they'll go the pill and oxygen tank route instead of the broccoli and tofu path. Such is the world.

SactoBobs experience parallels mine...

Postby f1jim » Tue May 12, 2009 7:16 am

Even his ejection fraction, at 57% was identical to mine. My doctor explained that this was the ischemic chest pain I was experiencing. The heart is crying out for more blood. When you are not getting enough, even at rest, you are at great risk for a cardiac event. (That's doctorspeak for something very nasty and debilitating) I still keep my old perfusion scan pictures that show the dark areas of the heart, instead of the brightness that should be at all areas. Temporarily relieving the chest pain is all the angioplasties, stents, and bypasses do. They most certainly don't stop the progression of arterial deterioration. In fact, the longevity benefits of these interventions are abysmally low! The only real solution is what worked for those in the Ornish and Esselstyn studies. Shut down the inflammation in the blood vessels and let the healing begin. SactoBob and I look at it as a miracle, but really this is what our bodies are designed to do when fueled with the proper nutrients, delivered in the proper packages. All the drugs, vitamin pills, and other chemical cocktails in the world, delivered with Kraft Mac n Cheese, won't do anything for this. Doctors can make your numbers look any way they want. Your arteries know the difference.
SactoBob has come to the place Dr. Esselstyn refers to as "not putting gasoline on the house fire." We both are guilty at getting a bit animated when we hear people explaining how they only use "a little" gasoline" in their diet. We both cringe. Dr. McDougall says the same thing. Stop feeding the disease and start feeding your body. It will take care of the rest.
Last edited by f1jim on Tue May 12, 2009 7:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Posts: 10697
Joined: Sun Feb 17, 2008 4:45 pm
Location: Pacifica, CA

Postby CarolWL » Tue May 12, 2009 7:31 am

Bob, you're an incredible inspiration. Many, many congratulations to you. You help keep the rest of us humming along toward improved health and quality of life.
Posts: 107
Joined: Mon Feb 02, 2009 5:00 pm
Location: Chicago


Postby SactoBob » Tue May 12, 2009 8:22 am

as usual, I am in total agreement with you. It does seem amazing how similar our cases have been (and how similar we are in so many things).

Purdy -
I think you are right when you say that the docs doubt that 1 patient in 20 would have done what I did. But I don't believe that the docs are correct in this belief.

Dr. Esselstyn talks a lot about this in his book. His own experience is that MOST patients will adopt this program if they are properly educated. Of course, surgery is recommended instead of the correct education. So this is a self fulfilling prophecy on the doctors part. They say that nobody can do this program for life, so nobody tries. In fact, it is only a bit more difficult than SAD, and well worth the extra effort.

When I discussed lifestyle change with my doc, he was aware of Dr. Ornish's program, but his belief was that it did not work very well, and that results were not long term. Dr. Esselstyn's study has put the lie to both of those points.

IMO, it is an obvious choice. The surgery addresses only a local problem, the benefits erode with time, the risks are significant, and you are committing to a lifetime of drugs (e.g. Plavix). The lifestyle modification addresses the disease, the benefits improve with time, and there is no risk and no drugs.

And along the lines of what Jim has says, I have to underscore that IT IS NOT HARD TO DO THIS PROGRAM 100%. You simply resolve to eat only allowed foods, and plan to have those foods available. Once you understand this program and decide to do it, you are maybe in for a month of mild to moderate suffering - certainly no worse than a flu.

Like Jim, I just shake my head at many of the posters here who know the benefits of the plan and simply refuse to adopt it. For them, each day seems like an adventure - maybe they will McDougall and maybe not. An endless trail of melodrama and confession and self abuse. I just don't get it. You can suffer for a month or suffer for a lifetime, and so many people choose door number 2.

I really think that anybody faced with heart surgery of any kind who understands everything about the surgical versus lifestyle interventions would choose lifestyle 100% of the time.

Postby eaufraiche703 » Tue May 12, 2009 8:33 am

Bob, the doc was initially sceptical about the effectiveness of dietary changes on your condition because MOST people don't adhere to such programs 100%.

MOST people don't reap the benefits you've achieved!

Posts: 1296
Joined: Sun May 25, 2008 8:33 am
Location: St Louis, MO

Postby TwinB » Tue May 12, 2009 9:08 am

Hi Bob. I haven't followed all the posts about the details of your lifestyle changes, but I wonder if you were in contact with Esselstyn during this time? Congrats again. Joe.
Posts: 309
Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2008 3:30 pm

Dr. Esselstyn

Postby SactoBob » Tue May 12, 2009 9:38 am

I did not directly contact Dr. Esselstyn, although, as noted above, he was told about my story and I am glad that he was pleased. I considered contacting Dr. Esselstyn and also considered getting into the next 10 day program. As it turned out, I was able to understand the program, and I hired Jeff Novick who helped with questions I had. Dr. McDougall also responded to my original email, and has recently also emailed me to type up my story for him. I am still waiting for a copy of the second heart scan since I don't want to make any mistakes in presenting my case to others as an example.

I was ready to do anything I needed to do, but as it turned out, the books, dvds, this board, and Jeff were enough to get me quickly to 100% adherence. In truth, it was much easier than I expected except for some bad withdrawal symptoms early on.

Postby gabagirl » Tue May 12, 2009 11:39 am

As SactoBob knows, he is my hero. I am so proud of him. I'm relieved at seeing the results of this last test and thankful that we have been able to go through this journey together. It has given me my healthy, happy guy back and also a second chance for a beautiful future together with our son. We three have all benefited from this wonderful lifestyle in so many ways. I am so grateful to Dr. McDougall and Dr. Esselstyn for their persistence in getting this information out to us and Jeff Novick who saved my sanity in his cooking advice to me.

Sweetheart - TINETHMILY,

Posts: 32
Joined: Tue Mar 04, 2008 1:18 pm

Re: Replies

Postby landog » Tue May 12, 2009 12:42 pm

SactoBob wrote:And along the lines of what Jim has says, I have to underscore that IT IS NOT HARD TO DO THIS PROGRAM 100%. You simply resolve to eat only allowed foods, and plan to have those foods available.

I have to agree.

When you adopt this eating sytle, you learn that there are foods you can have and foods you cannot have.

Once it is reduced to black and white, it is not at all difficult to adhere.

Pretzel? No thanks, I can't have that.
User avatar
Posts: 1906
Joined: Sat Jun 21, 2008 6:26 am
Location: Cleveland, Ohio

Re: More details?

Postby Mrs. Doodlepunk » Tue May 12, 2009 6:54 pm

SactoBob wrote:One question I forgot to ask was whether he had ever seen such a turnaround as this. I suspect not, because he told me before not to expect a change in the test with lifestyle, and that he had never seen a really significant improvement on this test.

I can just about guarantee you that your doctor has never seen anyone do what you've done. There just are NO reversals of heart disease like this except for the few people who actually stick with Ornish or Esselstyn's programs.

I have been thinking a lot about my parents lately. My father took his statins for years and STILL developed more and more sclerotic plaques and is now pretty much a cardiac cripple and on oxygen. He followed the diet they gave him too! You know, the one guaranteed to keep you going to the doctor for more pills and tests.

I'm going for the easy way out and from now on it's going to be 100%. Thanks for posting this, Bob.
It IS the food! :unibrow:
(... do these earrings make my butt look big?)
User avatar
Mrs. Doodlepunk
Posts: 3733
Joined: Thu Oct 19, 2006 7:10 pm

Good luck to you, Mrs. D

Postby SactoBob » Tue May 12, 2009 8:26 pm

Sorry that your dad is now a cardiac cripple. That was the prospect that I feared most. We all have a limited time span on this earth, but I really feared spending the rest of my years as a cardiac cripple carrying my bag full of drugs to the doctors periodically as I saw so many poor folks doing.

Mrs. D, if my story gave you any motivation to get down and do what it takes to be adherent, it is worth the world to me. I can't tell you how emotionally lifting it was to first discover the truth of this diet, and then experience the benefits, and then have objective confirmation of what I felt. You might have some transition problems as you go 100%. If there is anything I can do to help, don't hesitate to ask. I am sure that Jim, the Dog, and everybody else feel the same way.

your story is indeed inspiring

Postby Caroveggie » Wed May 13, 2009 5:30 am

I'm really looking forward to reading or watching your Star McDougaller story. I too allow myself too many indulgences sometimes. I just don't seem to fret about it, but I'm definitely liking your "black and white" reasoning.
User avatar
Posts: 1245
Joined: Wed Dec 20, 2006 10:08 am
Location: San Francisco


Return to The Lounge

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: geo and 6 guests