Friday, August 26, 2011

'Heart attack waiting to happen' isn't always obvious

I read this article, 'Heart attack waiting to happen' isn't always obvious posted on CNN's website and was honestly floored. At the age of 54 Tom Bare (picture above) had a heart attack even though he exercised everyday, ate oatmeal for breakfast, fruit for lunch, and chicken or Mexican food for dinner.  Tom's family had a history of heart disease and he had had two prior scans that showed he had build up of plaque in his arteries.

What floored me about the article was that CNN had reported, this week, about former President Clinton's switch to a low fat plant-based diet (after heart surgery and stents) and has covered the work of  numerous studies on the topic such as The China Study, Dean Ornish's multiple studies on coronary heart disease, and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn's research on preventing and reversing heart disease yet did not point out that it was diet that contributed heavily to Mr. Bare's condition. What is worse is that the story ended with Bare stating he "had no plans to give up the food he loves". What?

I know a lot of people might think that Bare's diet sounds "healthy" I mean it is oatmeal, fruit, and chicken right? But research has demonstrated for years (Esselstyn, McDougall, Campbell, Ornish) that chicken has as much cholesterol as beef or pork. Yes, you read that correctly. While chicken has slightly lower fat content than beef or pork, is has the same amount of cholesterol. You are doing your arteries no favors by eating meat regularly. While I think the oatmeal and fruit were a good start to Bare's day, the chicken and Mexican food (all that saturated fat in the cheese, meat, refried beans, and chips) certainly weren't helping. What is more, as the article points out, being thin does not mean a person's arteries are healthy.

The other part of the article that really struck me was that Bare had taken statins to reduce his blood cholesterol from "just under 300 to 125" yet still had a heart attack. It has been pointed out by Campbell, Ornish, and Esselstyn that statins artificially reduce cholesterol numbers but this is in no way the same as  actually reducing the amount of cholesterol in the blood through diet.

I hang around folks who bike a lot, are health conscious, and even at times exhibit an air of superiority towards the unfit masses zooming to work and fast food joints in their cars all the while wondering why they are fat and in debt. Many of my cycling buddies are thin or at least lean and fit looking. However, they seem clueless to the fact that while they may burn off any fatty calories they eat, that does not mean their arteries are any healthier than the folks bustling around in their cars. Diet appears, more and more, to be the deciding factor in artery and heart health.

1 comment:

  1. Just watched this CNN special. I don't understand people like Bare, who would rather endure having his chest cut open and his arteries re-routed than give up his favorite foods. (To say nothing of the fact that this diet will ultimately kill him.)

    True--chicken is NOT the healthy alternative to beef. It's full of cholesterol and saturated fat. Excessive consumption of animal-based protein is also strongly linked to the growth of cancerous tumors.

    Statins are helpful, but I think they do more harm than good by giving people a false sense of security. Changing one's diet drastically is the only way to prevent cardiovascular disease.

    I'm glad you spoke out about this stuff, skirt.