My Plantcentric Journey

Posts tagged ‘heart surgery’

Heart Surgeons Kill First Man on the Moon: Neil Armstrong

This Tragic Loss Should Become One Giant Leap for Mankind

Neil Armstrong, who made the “giant leap for mankind” as the first human to set foot on the moon, died on Saturday, August 25, 2012. The cause of death according to his family was “complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures.” He had just celebrated his 82nd birthday when he went to the hospital on Monday, August 6, 2012 for a cardiac stress test. He flunked, and on Tuesday surgeons bypassed four blockages in his coronary arteries. This limited information from the media is enough for me to conclude that his death was avoidable; he should have never been operated on. His doctors gambled and we lost an American hero.

The first successful bypass operation was performed in America at the Cleveland Clinic on May 9, 1967, about two years before Mr. Armstrong’s history-making step on the moon on July 20, 1969. Until the mid-1980s, octogenarians (people in their eighties) were spared from heart bypass surgery because the elderly are generally less able to withstand the rigors of extracorporeal circulation (the heart-lung machine) and the many hours of major surgery, than are younger patients. Plus, the life expectancy of people having reached the age of 80 years is limited. Yet, there is the economic side of this equation: doctors and hospitals have increasingly appreciated the market potential of this age group and as a result, have published multiple papers in an attempt to justify taking extreme risks with the elderly.

Open Heart Surgery Does Not Save Lives

There are two indications for heart surgery:

1) To relieve incapacitating chest pain (angina) that is not sufficiently reduced by “good medical therapy.” In standard medical practice, this means giving anti-angina medications like nitrates and beta-blockers. But truly “good medical therapy” must also routinely include a low-fat diet since the frequency of angina episodes is reduced by more than 90% in fewer than three weeks with this simple, safe approach. As an added benefit, this same low-fat diet heals (reverses) the underlying artery disease. A symptom-relieving indication for heart surgery appears to be absent in Mr. Armstrong’s case. He simply had the misfortune to step on a cardiac treadmill machine as part of a routine check up.

2) To save lives. According to the article “Is Heart Surgery Worth It?” in Bloomberg Businessweek, “Except in a minority of patients with severe disease, bypass operations don’t prolong life or prevent future heart attacks,” Even after massaging the data, the survival benefits are barely perceptible: A recent analysis of 28 studies comparing heart surgery with medical therapy, performed by doctors with a vested interest (cardiologists and bypass surgeons), found less than a 2% absolute improvement in survival achieved from heart surgery over no operation. These conclusions are based on relatively young patients. Sadly, the case for octogenarians is much more disappointing.

Multiple studies, performed by researchers, most interested in justifying bypass surgery, have confirmed the higher risks of complications (bleeding, kidney failure, etc.), death, and prolonged hospitalization in octogenarians. An octogenarians’ 30-daymortality rate is 9% compared to 1.2% in the younger group. Surgeons from the same city where Mr. Armstrong died, Cincinnati, know these dismal results as well. J. Michael Smith, M.D., director of surgical research, Good Samaritan Hospital, wrote about his study, “Octogenarians had a 72 percent higher risk of death, 3 percent longer hospitalization, a 51 percent higher risk for neurological complications and were 49 percent more likely to undergo repeat surgery for bleeding…. On the plus side, surgery can improve quality of life, including such symptoms as shortness of breath and chest pain, even in octogenarians. On the other hand, it’s hard to make the argument that you will prolong anyone’s life this way.”

The reason heart surgery (both bypass surgery and angioplasty) fails to save lives is that the targets of the operators are the hard, fibrous, stable, non-lethal plaques, not the volatile small plaques found inside the arteries that rupture and cause heart attacks and death.

Good Can Come from a Hero’s Death

From all accounts Neal Armstrong was strong and healthy with many good years ahead for him. That is before he stepped on the treadmill, which in his case served as the conveyor belt to the operating room, and beyond. His former doctors undoubtedly have regret for their decisions, but not enough to change their ways. They owe the world an explanation for their actions in light of common knowledge held for more than two decades about the extreme risks of lucrative heart surgery in octogenarians. Likely, they will remain silent, continuing to make obscene profits at all costs. (The average annual salary of a bypass surgeon is $533,084.) Let’s hope that this one small step for (a) man will become one giant leap for mankind by publicizing this kind of unconscionable care. No one is immune from these everyday medical practices as Neil Armstrong’s untimely end demonstrates. And let’s dream beyond the moon, hoping that someday soon patients will be offered a time-honored, safe, cost-free, highly effective dietary approach to their health problems.

(Although the kind of stress test used for Neil Armstrong was not identified, the use of a walking treadmill to stress the heart is most commonly employed. If positive, then an angiogram is performed to identify the anatomy of the specific blockages. The angiogram serves as a preoperative test.)

http://www.drmcdougall.com/misc/2012nl/aug/armstrong.htm

Conversations with a Meat Eater


Conversations with a meat eater generally go like this:

“You are vegan?”

“Yes.”

“Do you eat chicken?  What about fish?”

“No.  No.”

“How do you get your protein?”

It is at this point that we, vegans, have a choice about how to have a conversation that is informative and perhaps even inspirational.  The protein question gets everyone going because for some protein is a synonym for meat.  Suggesting that it is not necessary (or healthy) to eat meat goes right to the heart of the issue, which is that we have been taught to believe something and, because it is a way of life, most people don’t question it.

“We eat beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh, spinach, peas, walnuts, cashews, almonds, quinoa, millet, etc.”

“Aren’t you hungry?  Don’t you need to eat meat to get iron?”

“Not hungry, I eat all day long!  And I especially love to indulge in homemade cookies.  No, you don’t need to eat meat to get iron.  I get it from broccoli, walnuts, lentils, spinach, oats…”

“But…”

Sometimes meat eaters stop here, nod and wish me luck mumbling something about making sure I eat enough.  Others want to debate the protein issue.  I am fully armed with answers based on my own experience and my Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from Cornell.

The bottom line is this: there are no nutrients in animal based foods that are not better obtained from plant-based foods.  Plants have protein too!

It is interesting that a vegan never questions a meat eater’s ability to take in all of the nutrients necessary for a balanced and healthy diet.  We don’t question their food choices.  Instead, we are the ones who need to defend ourselves. But at the end of the day, the key is to not get defensive.  The key is to offer some information that will hopefully cause the person to, at a minimum question their own dietary habits, and at a maximum will convert them on the spot!

We could talk about the benefits of a vegan diet for our health.  We could talk about The China Study and explain how some cancers, diabetes and heart diseases are hitting levels of epidemic proportions due to the intake of animal based foods.  We could talk about the outrageous sums of money being spent on health care instead of preventative medicine.  We could talk about how it is much more extreme to have major heart surgery and live on medication forever versus making dietary changes.  We could offer President Clinton’s story about his decision to go vegan and why.

We could talk about the animals.  We could reveal the secrets of the factory farm and the inhumane treatment of, not just the animals, but those that work at the slaughterhouses.  We could explain how a steady diet of hormones and antibiotics given to the animals create more disease and illness.  We could talk about how dirty the food supply really is.

We could talk about the environment.  We could quote the report from the United Nations that says that methane emissions from all of factory farmed animals are contributing more to global warming than all of the cars, trucks and buses in the world. We could talk about the oceans are being depleted and how the world is going to suffer because of it.

Any or all of these tacks make for good conversation.  In my experience however, most meat eaters can’t listen to this stuff.  Truth be told, it is tough to talk about and tough to hear.  I have my elevator speech, my condensed explanation that encompasses points about our health, the health and welfare of the animals and the planet.

I believe that the best way to have a productive conversation with a meat eater is not to have conversation at all.  Invite them out to a delicious vegan restaurant or even better invite them over and cook for them.  Change the conversation.

Lisa Dawn Angerame | Blog | Website | Facebook
Long Island, NY Lisa Dawn is an advanced certified Jivamukti yoga teacher, vegan food blogger, wife and mom. She is working hard to spread the vegan love through her cooking, teaching and blog. Lisa Dawn studies and teaches the yoga sutras. She divides her time between NYC and Northport, Long Island. Lisa Dawn is the co founder of NAVA NYC, a meditation and yoga company designed to bring yoga and meditation to corporate clients.

Photo credit: TDIV

From:  http://www.thisdishisvegetarian.com/2012/07/conversations-with-meat-eater.html

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