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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

Top 10 Myths About Cardiovascular Disease American Heart Association

Top 10 Myths About Cardiovascular Disease

How much do you really know about your heart’s health? It’s easy to be fooled by misconceptions. After all, heart disease only happens to your elderly neighbor or to your fried food-loving uncle, right? Or do you know the real truth – that heart disease can affect people of any age, even those who eat right?

Relying on false assumptions can be dangerous to your heart. Cardiovascular disease kills more Americans each year than any other disease. But you can boost your heart smarts by separating fact from fiction. Let’s set the record straight on some common myths.

  1. “I’m too young to worry about heart disease.” How you live now affects your risk for cardiovascular diseases later in life. As early as childhood and adolescence, plaque can start accumulating in the arteries and later lead to clogged arteries. One in three Americans has cardiovascular disease, but not all of them are senior citizens. Even young and middle-aged people can develop heart problems – especially now that obesity, type 2 diabetes and other risk factors are becoming more common at a younger age.
  2. “I’d know if I had high blood pressure because there would be warning signs.” High blood pressure is called the “silent killer” because you don’t usually know you have it. You may never experience symptoms, so don’t wait for your body to alert you that there’s a problem. The  way to know if you have high blood pressure is to check your numbers with a simple blood pressure test. Early treatment of high blood pressure is critical because, if left untreated, it can cause heart attack, stroke, kidney damage and other serious health problems. Learn how high blood pressure is diagnosed.
  3.  “I’ll know when I’m having a heart attack because I’ll have chest pain.” Not necessarily. Although it’s common to have chest pain or discomfort, a heart attack may cause subtle symptoms. These include shortness of breath, nausea, feeling lightheaded, and pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the jaw, neck or back. Even if you’re not sure it’s a heart attack, call 9-1-1 immediately. Learn you risk of heart attacktoday!
  4. “Diabetes won’t threaten my heart as long as I take my medication.” Treating diabetes can help reduce your risk for or delay the development of cardiovascular diseases. But even when blood sugar levels are under control, you’re still at increased risk for heart disease and stroke. That’s because the risk factors that contribute to diabetes onset also make you more likely to develop cardiovascular disease. Theseoverlapping risk factors include high blood pressure, overweight and obesity, physical inactivity and smoking.
  5. “Heart disease runs in my family, so there’s nothing I can do to prevent it.” Although people with a family history of heart disease are at higher risk, you can take steps to dramatically reduce your risk. Create anaction plan to keep your heart healthy by tackling these to-dos: get active; control cholesterol; eat better; manage blood pressure; maintain a healthy weight; control blood sugar; and stop smoking.
  6. “I don’t need to have my cholesterol checked until I’m middle-aged.” The American Heart Association recommends you start getting your cholesterol checked at age 20. It’s a good idea to start having a cholesterol test even earlier if your family has a history of heart disease. Children in these families can have high cholesterol levels, putting them at increased risk for developing heart disease as adults. You can help yourself and your family by eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.
  7. “Heart failure means the heart stops beating.” The heart suddenly stops beating during cardiac arrest, not heart failure. With heart failure, the heart keeps working, but it doesn’t pump blood as well as it should. It can cause shortness of breath, swelling in the feet and ankles or persistent coughing and wheezing. During cardiac arrest, a person loses consciousness and stops normal breathing.
  8. “This pain in my legs must be a sign of aging. I’m sure it has nothing to do with my heart.” Leg pain felt in the muscles could be a sign of a condition called peripheral artery disease. PAD results from blocked arteries in the legs caused by plaque buildup. The risk for heart attack or stroke increases five-fold for people with PAD.
  9. “My heart is beating really fast. I must be having a heart attack.” Some variation in your heart rate is normal. Your heart rate speeds up during exercise or when you get excited, and slows down when you’re sleeping. Most of the time, a change in your heartbeat is nothing to worry about. But sometimes, it can be a sign of arrhythmia, an abnormal or irregular heartbeat. Most arrhythmias are harmless, but some can last long enough to impact how well the heart works and require treatment.
  10. “I should avoid exercise after having a heart attack.” No! As soon as possible, get moving with a plan approved for you! Research shows that heart attack survivors who are regularly physically active and make other heart-healthy changes live longer than those who don’t. People with chronic conditions typically find that moderate-intensity activity is safe and beneficial. The American Heart Association recommends at least two and a half hours of moderate intensity physical activity each week. Find the help you need by joining a cardiac rehabilitation program, or consult your healthcare provider for advice on developing a physical activity plan tailored to your needs.

Learn more:

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/MyHeartandStrokeNews/Top-10-Myths-about-Cardiovascular-Disease_UCM_430164_Article.jsp

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