The Nation's Health + [Heart disease prevention]

Procedures 'R Us

Kay came to the office for an opinion.

Over the past 8 months, she'd received a stent to the left anterior descending coronary artery and, during a separate procedure, a stent to the left subclavian artery.

"My cardiologist was very capable doing procedures. But when I asked, 'What do I do now?' he barely said a word and handed me a presciption for Crestor."

This kind of incredible neglect is the norm: Write a prescription for statin drug, delegate dietary advice to the hospital dietitian who advocates a heart disease-causing low-fat diet, followed by hospital discharge. You are expected to report any recurrent symptoms (which are inevitable), at which point you might "qualify" for another procedure.

It would be malpractice if it were not the prevailing standard in the community. Yes, the prevailing standard is neglect--neglect to identify, quantify, and correct all the identifiable causes of heart disease; neglect to discuss the nutritional methods that actually correct the abnormal patterns that cause heart disease; neglect to discuss nutritional supplements or medications beyond statins that further reduce heart disease risk and "need" for more procedures. In other words, the prevailing community standard is to stent, bypass, prescribe statin. It is not to understand why the disease occurred in the first place, correct the causes and minimize or eliminate any future danger or need for procedures.

I see consultation after consultation involving stories just like Kay's. People are frightened and they sense intuitively that nobody raised the question of why they have a potentially fatal disease.

Don't allow yourself to fall victim to this incredibly neglectful mode of practice, the one that has enriched hospitals, the drug industry, many cardiologists, but does little to address the actual disease.