I read an article recently that I thought you’d like. Dr. Fuhrman wrote about Tim Russert’s passing. It’s an interesting article that talks about how someone could pass a stress test and still have a heart attack. It’s also great because he highlights the importance of a high-nutrient, plant-based diet as more effective in reducing cholesterol levels than medications. I can’t think of a more important reason for us all to increase our intake of fresh fruits and vegetables (whether raw or cooked) than the obvious health benefits.
Read on for the full article.
By now you probably already know, but the much beloved host of NBC’s Meet the Press, Tim Russert, has died. He collapsed from a heart attack at the NBC News studio in Washington, D.C. on Friday. News reports claim that Mr. Russert had passed a stress test on April 29 and had even worked out on a treadmill the morning of his death. This was also reported in the news . . .
“Russert, age 58, was known to have asymptomatic coronary artery disease (atherosclerosis), which resulted in hardening of his coronary arteries,” Newman said. “The autopsy revealed an enlarged heart and significant atherosclerosis of the left anterior descending coronary artery with (a) fresh clot which caused a heart attack resulting in a fatal ventricular arrhythmia…”
…Dr. Cyril Wecht, a nationally renowned forensic pathologist, said Newman’s description of why Russert died makes sense. “The left anterior descending artery is well known among pathologists as the widow-maker,” he tells PEOPLE. “That tells you a lot, doesn’t it? It’s a classical situation that one encounters with great frequency in sudden unexpected death where you get a blood clot, or a thrombosis, or bleeding and if he had an enlarged heart, that adds to it.”
So, he PASSED his stress test, how could that be? If he checked out okay, how could he be dead a couple of months later?
A stress test is not an accurate test for determining the risk of a heart attack. A stress test only identifies obstructions, it doesn’t identify vulnerable plaque–the plaque that is likely to trigger a clot. A stress test can only detect a blockage of more than 80% and the propensity of plaque to rupture has nothing to do with the amount of obstruction. You could have a completely normal stress test and then have a heart attack the next day.1 Juvenile plaque, which is thinly laid down, has a higher propensity to rupture then the old plaque that is more obstructive.
Cardiologist’s attempt to intervene with cholesterol-lowering drugs hoping that cholesterol-lowering will reduce the thickness of the lipid pool within the plaque, but it only partially reduces risk. Over fifty percent of Americans still die of heart attacks and strokes. About 70 percent of the clots that cause death are formed in areas of the heart with non-obstructing lesions, not visible to cardiac testing and not treatable with stenting or bypass. These softer plaques with a thinner (younger calcified cap) are more likely to rupture and promote a clot, especially if the body is inflammatory-prone from low intake of phytochemicals from produce.
Stress tests are big money-makers for doctors. They identify those people with large blockages who qualify as candidates for costly angioplasty or bypass surgery. However, drugs and medical procedures reduce risk only slightly. There is a more effective option. People who normalize their weight, blood pressure and cholesterol through nutritional excellence and exercise don’t have heart attacks.
It’s pretty clear that protection against cardiovascular disease will not be found by a scalpel or in a bottle of pills. The best way to prevent heart disease is through aggressive dietary intervention; specifically a nutrient-dense vegetable-based diet.
A high nutrient, plant-based diet is more effective at lowering cholesterol than drugs, but also the weight loss, blood pressure lowering and reduction of oxidative stress from the high levels of micronutrients are all important factors in dramatically lowering one’s risk of heart disease.2 Their have been numerous medical studies to document that dietary intervention is more effective than drugs, and that heart disease is preventable and reversible.3,4 That’s why my patients with advanced heart disease get well and never have heart disease again.
My goal in my medical practice and on my website has always been to educate the public about the benefits of nutrition as medicine and how unnecessary some of these medical procedures – that only promote a false sense of security – can be. If, as a nation, we had a better understanding of these things, millions of Americans, like Tim Russert, wouldn’t die needlessly each year.
2. Jenkins DJ, Kendall CW, Popovich DG, et al. Effect of a very-high-fiber vegetable, fruit, and nut diet on serum lipids and colonic function. Metabolism 2001 Apr;50(4):494-503.
3. Hu FB. Plant-based foods and prevention of cardiovascular disease: an overview. Am J Clin Nutr 2003 Sep;78(3 Suppl):544S-551S.
4. Esselstyn CB. In cholesterol lowering, moderation kills. Cleve Clin J Med 2000 Aug;67(8):560-564. Esselstyn CB. Updating a 12-year experience with arrest and reversal therapy for coronary heart disease (an overdue requiem for palliative cardiology). Am J Cardiol 1999 Aug 1;84(3):339-341, A8.
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