The Nation's Health + [Reversal]

Reversal: A Track Your Plaque failure

We recently had a man suffer a heart attack after beginning the program. Let me tell you the details.

Jerry's heart scan score 781, age 53. Multiple lipoprotein abnormalities: HDL 32 mg/dl, triglycerides 279 mg/dl, nearly all of his LDL was in small particles with an "effective" LDL (LDL particle number), and very high IDL. So Jerry added fish oil 6000 mg per day, niacin, and vitamin D to the statin drug prescribed by his primary physician. Jerry added oat bran, ground flaxseed, and tried to eat fish at least once per week.

However, Jerry continued to smoke. He'd smoked for 40 years (!), up to 2 packs per day, and just reasoned that it was too late to quit. He also continued to indulge in the packaged, processed foods that were part of his convenience story business.

Jerry's stress test was normal--no chest pain, normal EKG, normal images of blood flow, though he was somewhat breathless, likely from his lung disease from smoking.

Two months into his program, he abruptly experienced severe crushing pain in his chest. Because he was traveling, he ended up in a small local hospital. A failed angioplasty led to urgent coronary bypass surgery.

Jerry's alive. Now he's a non-smoker. He's got the pursed lips and peculiar breathing pattern that smokers get, but he's breathing.

Lesson: In the face of the most powerful program for heart disease known, it can still be overpowered by Twinkies, Hoho's, pretzels, chips--and cigarettes.

The new year is approaching. Be grateful for another year of healthy life and commit to a new year of even greater health. If you're a smoker, there's no choice: you've got to quit.