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Reversal Therapy, a Better Treatment for Heart Disease
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Reversal Therapy, a Better Treatment for Heart Disease

Dr. Gould is Martin Bucksbaum Distinguished University Chair, Professor of Medicine/Cardiology and Director, Weatherhead P.E.T. Center for Preventing and Reversing Atherosclerosis, University of Texas Medical School at Houston and The Bush Center for Cardiovascular Health at Hermann Hospital, Houston, Texas.

"Modern cardiology has given up on curing heart disease." -- Caldwell B. Esselstyn, M.D.

This is a shocking statement considering the impressive array of treatments available to today's cardiologists. With coronary artery bypass surgery, balloon angioplasty and stent implantation, plus many sophisticated high-tech tests, the odds would seem to favor 21st century heart patients.

But not only are all of these techniques aggressive and expensive, the real problem is they don't work. They don't correct the causes of heart disease. They don't stop the processes that create atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries) and, in most cases, they don't help people live longer since the basic causes persist.

There is, however, an alternative called reversal therapy. Conventional treatments focus on the symptoms of heart disease, such as chest pain due to narrowing of the arteries. But this narrowing is the end product of a long, complex process of cholesterol accumulation in the wall of the artery. Even before significant narrowing occurs or symptoms, the cholesterol plaque may break or rupture and cause a clot or thrombosis in the coronary artery. This clot blocks blood flow to the heart and leads to a heart attack, sudden chest pain and stroke despite no previous warning signs. Reversal therapy is different. It treats the underlying causes of cholesterol accumulation and plaque rupture such as high cholesterol levels, smoking, excess weight, an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, high blood pressure, diabetes and stress.

By catching coronary heart disease early, reversal therapy can stop and roll back the progress of the disease, years before dangerous, expensive and invasive procedures become necessary. Reversal therapy makes use of PET, or positron emission tomography, a noninvasive test that gives a better picture of a person's real risk of suffering a heart attack. PET testing can diagnose coronary artery disease early on, when treatment can make more of a difference for the patient's long-term survival. Not only is reversal therapy safer, more effective and less invasive than conventional treatments, it is far cheaper.

Atherosclerosis and Heart Attack

Atherosclerosis is the process of cholesterol accumulation, along with inflammation, scarring and calcification (hardening) of the coronary arteries, which lead to plaque rupture and heart attack or narrowing that causes chest pain.

Conservative estimates suggest that 20% to 40% of middle aged people in the United States today have early coronary atherosclerosis or silent heart disease. Unfortunately, the way many of them find out is by having a heart attack. Statistically, as many as 60% to 85% of heart attacks and sudden deaths from heart disease occur without any warning from rupture of the cholesterol plaque without previous narrowing. Most victims never knew they were at risk and never sought any kind of treatment. Chest pain and other symptoms that send people to the doctor tend to be caused by slowly developing severe or partial blockage of the arteries. In contrast, most heart attacks happen suddenly without warning in people whose atherosclerosis has not caused slow or partial narrowing but rather sudden complete blockage because of rupture of the cholesterol plaque where there was no significant narrowing previously.

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(16) Comments have been made

David Menard
I am 51 years old male that has a 3 chamber heart. I Have had Atrial Fibrillation‎ now and then but I really had it when I was in my late 30’s. My oxygen level is around 84% and with constant oxygen my level could go as high as 89% laying in the bed. I can only get my oxygen level up that high breathing heavily and only for a short period of time. Breathing normally with oxygen my level goes as high as 87%. I was wondering if any doctor would like to study my heart as looking in the forums it looks like I’m about the oldest person in the world that is still living with this type of heart.
Posted Sun, Dec. 14, 2014 at 8:00 pm EST
Karl Wheatley
See Dr. Esselstyn's 2014 studies in which he achieved as dramatic results with 177 new patients with heart disease. Added processed sugar is not good, but a low-fat, whole-food, plant-based diet again worked wonders in his more recent study. Just google his name and go to his website to access the studies.
Posted Tue, Aug. 5, 2014 at 5:23 pm EDT
Midnight Blue
Good info. Would be nice to see updates and add-ons to this article since it was published in 2002 and I'm certain some new conclusions have been reached. For instance, more recent research is now suggesting that inflammation from the "American Diet" with high amounts of sugar and processed foods is more damaging to the linings of the arteries than saturated fats and cholesterol. But without this site going back and providing updates to the original article, one is left wondering.
Posted Mon, May. 19, 2014 at 6:32 pm EDT
As this was written over 11 years ago, are their relevant updates to the conclusions outlined above? Could you folks refer me to said/inferred updates? Thanks
Posted Tue, Nov. 26, 2013 at 8:58 pm EST
Hi Drs. I am an individual experiencing athrioserosis in multiple peripheral arteries I 95% and others 70 60 and 50 or less. It was examined by a cardiologist at u Of Alberta hospital 1/12 year ago! Dr. Put me on 20m corestor and 20 Olmatec. I a very strong user of supplements - alternative method and would like to get a professional feedback . Main Heart muscle is I a good shape. I have been looking for some good food base supplements including DMSA EDTA, and Serrapeptese? Could I kindly approach you and seek help and advice? Ash 63 years of age.
Posted Sat, Apr. 13, 2013 at 6:49 pm EDT
The Doctor Editor
You might try contacting Dr. Gould or Dr. Richard Smalling, our cardiovascular specialist, directly.
Posted Sat, Jan. 5, 2013 at 1:17 pm EST
Ernst Kunfermann
Hi, I’m Ernst Kunfermann, male, 59 years old and visiting Houston region and seek an alternative coronary artery disease diagnose and treatment physician / clinic. I treated it with 42 EDTA Chelations so far with very limited results. My ultimate goal is to continue my chelation treatment in Africa with regular check-ups back in the US. I work in Nigeria West Africa. CIGNA is my Health Insurance. I would be very thankful if you can help me, or guide me to somebody that can…….. Thanking in advance for your attention and reply Ernst Kunfermann
Posted Sat, Jan. 5, 2013 at 9:17 am EST
John Hunter
My best friend of 35 yrs. last week was told he needed triple bypass surgery immediately. He has started this nutrition plan and has an appointment with Dr. Gould in two days. If anyone can do this, my friend can. We all want him healthy and with no "pump head". I will continue to blog on here. At the moment he is at home with a "life vest" on, a portable defibrillator strapped to his chest. Thank God my friend lives in Houston!!!
Posted Tue, Aug. 14, 2012 at 5:52 pm EDT
I would have an issue with your article. By being politically correct and recommend a low fat diet you also recommend a low carbohydrate diet so what are we going to eat chicken breast and lettuce? Make up your mind low fat for cholesterol lowering or low carb for weight control? I would go low carb and plenty of healthy fats!!!!
Posted Tue, Jun. 19, 2012 at 5:34 pm EDT
John Charles
We often "over scientific" the basic problem. The article makes good sense, but the side effects and risks of statin drugs is almost as dangerous as the "cure." While there are indeed many variables leading to heart disease, I believe the Preato principle can be applied. This means that 80% of heart disease cases are caused by only 20% of the many variables. Lifestyle, that includes diet, stress and exercise falls in that 20% of heart disease culprits. A plant based dies, cardio exercise four times a week and stress management can reverse the disease. The miracle drug in this case is "persistence!"
Posted Sat, Jul. 2, 2011 at 1:43 pm EDT
zosim ioffe
Sirs, While I do agree wholeheartedly with the basic premise of your article that modern medical treatments do not address underlying causes of heart disease, I cannot fathom why would any doctor insist on cholesterol lowering therapy as a method for reducing heart attack risks. The fact that numerous studies showed positive effects of statin therapy on heart disease in no way proves that cholesterol is responsible for the problem in the first place. Statins have multi-factorial effects, thus every study on statin deals with more than one variable - cholesterol level, therefore, by definition such studies are not scientific studies.Statins have strong dose related anti-coagulant effect, which is sufficient in itself to explain their beneficial effects. There is no correlation between, never mind cause effect relationship, fat intake, cholesterol level and mortality from cardiovascular events. There is well documented correlation however, between very low cholesterol levels and overall longevity (inverse) and specifically strokes (inverse). As to the studies referenced in the article, I invite any reader to take a look at them: all of them will have the same protocol: give statins to the subjects and observe frequency of cardiovascular events. Great, but which factor of the two is responsible? Sincerely, Zosim Ioffe morganville, NJ
Posted Tue, Feb. 22, 2011 at 11:58 am EST
I found this piece very informative and credible. I will pursue the suggestions and investigate the PET scan.
Posted Tue, Oct. 19, 2010 at 1:00 am EDT
I think you saved my life with this "Reversal Therapy" article. I plan to start with low, low fat diet.
Posted Tue, Jul. 20, 2010 at 9:35 pm EDT
Will somebody PLEASE address the issue of elevated triglycerides with following a very low fat diet. I have found very little information after a lot of research. Seems it has just been glossed over or ignored by Esselstyn, Fuhrman, McDougal and others who promote low fat plant based diets. My cholesterol is dropping and my triglycerides are ever higher!
Posted Fri, Jun. 25, 2010 at 3:38 pm EDT
but today i read that statins, the most widely prescribed anti cholesterol drugs inhibit colleteral development and they are needed as they are natures way to by-pass
Posted Mon, Mar. 15, 2010 at 2:20 am EDT
Interesting article. Any thoughts on red yeast rice vs statins?
Posted Thu, Dec. 31, 2009 at 8:52 pm EST

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