October 15, 2010
Volume 2, Issue 10
In This Issue
· Reflections from a Renewing Heart (Part 1 of 2… long)
This lead story was written by a heart patient, now in his forties, who has suffered the normal punishments due anyone who has turned himself over to the brutal machine called “Cardiology.” As with all heart patients, starting with that fateful day 17 years ago, his condition got worse and worse and worse, but his belief in his doctors didn’t waver. Then one day he woke up and took a long hard look at the barbaric system based on TV propaganda and little more than “Ask Your Doctor.”
Fortunately for this one patient, he was able to think for himself, something the vast majority cannot do. They get worse and worse, but with a religious-like faith in the doctors who keep them on the treadmill-to-the-grave of pills and harmful therapies, they just get worse and worse and never question why.
When one who knows he is worsening, dares to look outside the box at stem cells, he foolishly asks the ignorant charlatan his opinion. 90% of the time the answer is a lie: “Stem cells don’t work; it is snake oil. Keep taking my commission-earning pills—here’s a new one just got approved.
How about another poisoned stent or dangerous bypass?”
It’s a wonder this patient was able to break away. This is the story of how and why. It is followed by a short article, with references, on the many dangers of standard cardiology, where (1) Profits are all that matters (2) No cures allowed—ever. (3) Patients are lab rats.
Part 1 of 2
The following story is a true account of how I found hope and regenerative results from a medical treatment, a treatment which I can only call a miracle. It traces my struggle to find a viable therapy or cure for my heart disease. And it turned me from conventional medicine to stem cell therapy, something I had scarcely given credence to beyond the “wonder drug” appellations I’d heard applied to it by some and ballyhooed by others.
I’d begun to wonder early this year, whether either of my former heart specialists could be regarded as ‘experts’ in the field, for neither seemed to know anything about VesCell’s groundbreaking Adult Stem Cell (ASC) therapy’s healing effects on end-stage heart patients like me; nor, it seemed, did they want to know. Even after I shared my findings on VesCell’s credentials, they seemed intent on dismissing my hopes about ASC, and instead giving me medication that seemed to merely accompany me on a slow, steady decline in my health. I was excited about VesCell’s clinical trials, journal publications, eminent physicians, significant scientific awards, and many of the remarkable patient testimonials, but to no avail. The good doctors met my sense of wonder and hope with an indifference that implied I couldn’t possibly know what I was talking about. I was just the ignorant patient after all. They told me, “stem cell therapy doesn’t work”, and this, just after they suggested it would “be a good idea to get my family affairs in order.”
But they encouraged me to continue my medication, “Until we get it right,” they said. “Getting it right” meant taking pills to preventing further cardiac arrests like the one I’d experienced 18 months earlier, and correcting their intolerable side-effects of constant drowsiness, incessant palpitations, photosensitivity, and a hyper-active thyroid that were making life less and less bearable for me. But even though I have mostly experienced conventional heart medicine as a kind of guinea pig being exposed to this or that treatment with relatively crude results, I am eternally grateful for its ability to keep me alive long enough to have begun my foray into the cutting-edge science of ASC treatment. To this end, I cannot to overemphasize my gratitude for the defibrillator I had fitted after my cardiac arrests. Even though the electrical shocks from it have been traumatic, it has saved my life from deadly ventricular fibrillations on three separate occasions, and has preserved me to write about my experience with ASC.
Following my last fibrillation in December 2009, I’d become increasingly helpless and hopeless in terms of controlling both my heart’s predictability and my overall quality of life. I hadn’t received any encouragement from my medical team about improving my health prospects, because all they could do was to attempt to stabilize my heart with varied pills and dosages. But I’d found that increasing the doses only meant more severe side-effects. The sense of helplessness I experienced with taking drugs to curb one problem only to have them cause others, left me feeling both angry and at a loss. I believed that perhaps at only 46, my life was nearing its end.
I began to feel as though my life light was dimming, slowly but markedly. Reflection upon my life- flashbacks about what I had achieved and had not achieved rushed through my mind, and I became sad and isolated. At times I dreamed about how I could create the perfect world to see me through my ordeal. I searched in my mind and heart for some respite from the fear of leaving all my loved ones behind. But I didn’t tell any of them about my deepest concerns because, as close as I thought I was to the end, my spirit had other ideas.
Something inside was telling me that maybe I had been pursuing the wrong path. I felt destined to take another journey and didn’t realize I was about to embark on something very exciting, rewarding and revitalizing.
That flicker of hope which had initially led me to investigate the prospects of embryonic stem cell (ESC) therapy for my condition of Ischemic Cardiomyopathy drew me back to it like a moth to a flame. My enlarged heart has significant scar tissue (caused by several heart attacks), and it struggles to pump blood throughout my body. I turned to the internet to shed light on ESC, hoping to do my own research from the ground up. Little did I know then that those first strokes on the computer keyboard were the first real steps I was taking to save my own life.
I started by typing in ‘Embryonic Stem Cell treatment,’ but after a while I became disheartened by the abundant evidence of its ineffectiveness in the treatment of any condition, much less heart disease. The short period of time I spent searching for positive treatment outcomes with ESC brought me dangerously close to resigning to a future of desperation and uncertainty. I needed something else.
Then, I had an epiphany: I decided to simplify my search and typed in ‘stem cell treatment’ and Boom! There it was: Adult Stem Cell Treatment for Heart Patients! Like the rest of the world, I’d have expected the ESC treatment to be the miraculous answer to our disease epidemic, yet what I found was something quite different: ASC therapy had taken over the mantle and at the center of it all was Vescell.
I was impressed by VesCell’s credentials (as noted above) especially the physicians’ credentials and patient testimonials. With the excitement of a child who’d only just discovered the mysterious sounds of a sea shell who kept listening to them with renewed enthusiasm each time, I spent days reading many patients’ remarkable accounts of their successful treatment with Vescell. I was inspired by the wonderfully moving stories of people of all ages making miraculous recoveries from their debilitating heart disease with ASC. I scarcely dared to believe it was possible, but there it was in black and white: they experienced reduced, if not fully alleviated, fatigue and breathlessness, and incredibly, a return of the sense of self that had pre-dated the onset of their degenerative condition which is what I had hoped would happen under my doctors’ guidance and the taking of medications.
I saw statistics that showed that while 30% of patients would not improve following treatment, 40% would improve significantly, and the remaining 30% would improve profoundly! VesCell’s five year history in treating over 500 no-option heart patients showed evidence statistically that the procedure had not caused any regression in any of the patients’ conditions. That was important to me, to say the least, since it would make it easier for me to take a chance with such treatment, even if I would end up being one of the 30% who didn’t improve. Though I had nothing to lose, I remember focusing on the 70%, thinking that they they’d had the treatment and were feeling better for it. Yet I was sitting there reading, coughing, feeling fatigued and breathless, and, most significantly, learning to be helpless and feeling more and more helpless over time. I desperately wanted to be like them, so I thought that if I chose to raise the funds to go for the treatment that, no matter the outcome, at least I’d have done everything I could to save myself.
I couldn’t get enough of the stirring testimonials. The heartfelt stories were evoking wonderful fantasies in me of a richer, fuller life wherein I could begin pursuing so many of the pastimes my disease had prevented me from doing, like taking up hobbies, community service work, travelling, and further studies. I could also begin to imagine a life that wasn’t closing in on me any longer.
But the more I read of the seemingly impossible yet genuine-sounding patient testimonials, the tighter the psychological bind seemed to become. Seriously considering that VesCell could make me better also made me have to choose between continuing to live a ‘known’ life marred by a medicated decline, or investing emotionally and financially in the ‘unknown’ but potentially healthy life promised by a cyber world promoted ‘miracle’ medicine. I remember hoping that my belief in the VesCell promise would be powerful enough to overcome any ideas I might otherwise have entertained about the treatment, such as its being a ‘snake oil’ treatment or merely a ‘placebo’ effect.
But mulling over my options for the next few weeks helped me understand that I couldn’t change things as they were, so I might as well try to be positive about Vescell, especially given the evidence. And feeling helpless is like letting a predator smell your fear. So I mustered up my courage and turned my back on fear and on living a half-life that was riddled with pain and false medical promises. I decided to give myself a better chance at life and so I made the all-important call to Don Margolis.
Don, as many of you would be aware, is the Founder of Theravitae (producer of Vescell) and President of RSCI (Repair Stem Cell Institute.) I contacted Don via the RSCI website, which he set up to provide independent direction to prospective patients for the best ASC treatment options. I must say that from the outset I found his irrepressible work, as noted on the internet, to be astonishing. Don is easily recognized as the world’s ASC pundit with copious amounts of work, belief, and enthusiasm for the credentials of ASC treatment. And, it would seem, that he vehemently opposes ESC treatment in equal measure because it currently devours nearly all stem cell funding, despite no evidence of having treated any disease successfully.
My admiration for Don’s remarkable leadership in this field and for his work meant I couldn’t wait to speak with him, so I left him a message this year in late January. He called me within a day. My serious foray into ASC had begun. I found Don to be polite, respectful, knowledgeable, confident, and concise. He quickly set about assessing my needs and psychologically inoculating me against the ‘stem cell skepticism’ I would likely be exposed to by my conventional medical team back home. I asked him several questions in regard to my chances of improvement and, to his credit, he never made any promises, he simply went about his role of informing me about matters pertaining to data denoting patient improvements, the procedure itself, and the screening process for candidacy.
He also increased my understanding of the political quagmire that surrounds ESC treatment funding and the consequent lack of it for ASC - the only clinically tried and proven stem cell therapy. And in all my conversations with Don, he never gave me the sense that he had anything to sell; I only ever felt as though I had something very important to buy.
After having several informed discussions with Don during the ensuing weeks, my confidence in VesCell had grown and I was eager to get back to my medical team to ask them what they thought about ASC treatment. Deep down, I knew that they’d dismiss the idea, probably because that’s what conventional ‘scientists’ do with unconventional ‘breakthrough’ treatments. In my experience, most scientists have been quick to defend against that which threatens to supersede their professional identity (i.e. position, prestige, ego, money etc.) I’m sure that many so-called experts are grateful for terms like snake oil and placebo, for deferring to such terms doesn’t require creativity or hard work. This lack of interest in seriously evaluating ASC, whether out of fear, unimaginativeness, selfishness, laziness, or even a lack in empathy and compassion for the sick, is something that concerns me about the entire medical system.
But our conventional health system is based on the bio-medical model, which basically means that the physician treats the symptoms well before the person (if at all.) That usually means relying on ‘approved’ methods that treat the patient’s body, not addressing the patient’s emotional and mental sensibilities which enable him to latch onto a startling medical breakthrough, only to have it brushed aside by the physician’s fastidious attempts to reduce the thinking and feeling patient to a medical lab rat. Only in recent times have we begun to witness a conscious shift in medical training at universities to include the finer art of bedside manners; however, it will be some time before we’ll all experience a medical doctor who’ll treat us before treating our bodies. So, as a relatively young man pining to be released from any physiological shackles, I began to feel as though I had no choice but to take my healthcare into my own hands, despite what the conventional medical experts would say.
I increasingly came to believe that the current medication and nasty side-effects were not good enough and that my research into ASC was. My degenerating heart had begun to lag way behind my spirit to live and to love, and I desperately needed to bridge that gap. Sadly, neither my medication, nor my specialists, would deliver, so it was time to move on to something that could.
It seemed to me that VesCell was the answer I had been seeking, particularly because my case involved a long history of heart disease in my family, which raised the life or death stakes for me considerably. In December 1993, my condition, which is caused by a family history of vascular diseases, hypertension, hypercholesteremia, and severe sleep apnea, either on one side of my family or the other, made itself known. I’d inherited all these risk factors and, had I known this, I wouldn’t have felt the compunction to add 18 years of cigarette smoking to the mix much less the devastating effects of heart disease. And I was told by a heart specialist that even a perfectly healthy lifestyle wouldn’t have prevented me from having a heart attack somewhere in my 50s, though smoking had definitely accelerated the process. Today I know absolutely what that so-called specialist said was horribly false and misleading. I know that if anyone is completely ignorant of the benefits of diet, exercise and a peaceful lifestyle, it is the same man who assures us to take his pills, which in a full century now, have failed to cure any human being of any chronic disease.
Only a month after my 30th birthday, I was rushed to the local hospital’s emergency department with severe, pulsating pain in my chest, arms, and shoulders twice in four days. Unfortunately, in hindsight I now realize that I had been misdiagnosed by medical interns with “esophageal reflux.” In fact, I’d had two heart attacks; I know this because they were followed by another one with the exact same symptoms four years later. This time I was rushed to a different hospital, where I was correctly diagnosed with a severe heart attack caused by two completely blocked heart arteries and a third blocked at 90%. The attending cardiologist told me in no uncertain terms that I required emergency quadruple bypass surgery to restore blood flow to my heart. I was ecstatic to hear that I had a chance of surviving.
Within a few hours on a very early Sunday morning, a medical team had congregated to perform the grueling five-hour procedure. It sounds odd perhaps, but I was feeling happy and excited about the surgery. Finally, I thought, years of angina, heart attacks, and misdiagnoses would come to an end. I would be able to get on with my life without the nagging angina and false attributions to the esophageal reflux diagnosis. Luckily that misdiagnosis didn’t kill me, but try complaining to the medical community about it. I’d launched a tentative and unsuccessful investigation into the wayward diagnosis some years earlier, but an ‘expert’ wrote back to deny any liability on the grounds of medical negligence and/or misuse of diagnostic instruments. The interns had used an Electrocardiograph on both days in 1993, but I believed that this tool could potentially misrepresent vital indicators of electrical activity, either reflecting its lack of sensitivity and/or the doctor’s interpretation of it. I wondered whether the interns’ interpretation was adequate, but how could I prove it without having to embark on a protracted litigation process? I didn’t need the added stress; all I needed was to rest and to get on with some positives in my life.
At least the five-hour bypass procedure four years later was successful. It saved my life, but it couldn’t return my heart muscle to its full, pumping function. Unfortunately, bypass surgery didn’t repair the severe scar left on my heart by the heart attacks and the damaged tissue made me constantly fatigued and breathless for the next 12 years.
It was a very difficult time physiologically and psychologically, but I learned to veil both to the world and to myself with light jogging and full-time studies. The jogging reduced my bad adrenaline and increased my endorphins, while my studies distracted me from my fatigue and gave me a sense of purpose. Following the surgery, I took two years off from work to relax and to reflect on my life, which seemed to have ended up nowhere. Only a month before the procedure, I’d voluntarily liquidated a business venture that had gone terribly wrong and, in the process, lost my life savings. The way I saw it, facing great failure in business meant failure across the board. And I was forced to relinquish my strong independence in favor of sheer survival. After having lived alone for many years, I had little choice but to return to live with my parents. They cared for me so well, but I was mired in the sense that life was tough. I had no money and my prized sense of independence had vanished overnight. I was disheartened about my failed business and I couldn’t bear to think of going back to the workforce to do some menial job. I was conflicted about life’s meaning; I thought I had to create one for myself, if life was to be worth another go.
I remember thinking that I needed a way out of my muddled state of mind, but I knew that I’d struggle to do that for as long as my body was stationary, leaving me feeling trapped inside it. My body was traumatized post-surgery and I was frustrated with the enduring physical limitations, until they’d begun to diminish three months later. As my body was healing, my spirit was struggling to be free; I sought a higher plane of meaning and purpose. With a renewed fire in my vitals, I became inspired to give life my all once more. I began to push my way through the wall of fatigue with exercise. Running and cycling were my means to an increasingly sound body and, as I exercised, I could feel my bad adrenaline washing away. I became more relaxed; exercise soothed me from my negative forecasts of a limited future. I could think more positively out on the road; I’d unwittingly stumbled across a kind of ‘active meditation.” I also found that moving my body boosted my fatigued body with a dose of endorphins, nature’s powerful morphine.
Within six months, my body had gotten stronger and my mind had begun to clear. And improved relaxation of my mood and emotions had opened up my neural pathways to the possibility of any new information that would help me take the next step in life.
First, I read to empower myself with knowledge about my condition. Learning that I could expect to live a reasonably full life with minimal limitations meant that I’d grow in confidence and stature. I didn’t want to be wrapped in cotton wool and I needed my independence; such is my risk-taking nature. My escalating confidence directed me to self-help books, which I read by the dozens. Reading beautiful poetry and about the heartwarming stories of people overcoming major health crises were inspirational for me. The stories made me want to do challenging things for myself. The first challenging feat was to enroll in a 10km local fun run, and then to run the full course in 58 minutes, 10 months after surgery. When I told my cardiologist about the achievement, he just shook his head in disbelief and said, “Fit people without heart problems would struggle to run 10km in that time.” I said, “I know, I passed a few of them!”
He was so impressed that he asked me to voluntarily present my rehabilitation methods to cardiac patients in their early recovery phase at the hospital. I was happy to do so for a time, but I soon realized that engaging in addressing presentations to patients much older than I affected some of my methods’ relevance: I was losing the ability to run fast! While I really enjoyed the presentations and they appeared to be received well by the patients, I felt as though my ideas were far too subjective and that I could’ve done with a more objective understanding of others’ experience with illness and disease. But I liked public speaking on health matters so much that I started to think I might do it for a living.
After several more months of exercising and reading, I was still unemployed so I decided to try my hand at studying. I thought that I had only one way to go and that was up. I reasoned that I had nothing to lose, so 18 months after surgery, I enrolled in a university for a health science degree, studying full time. I loved working with the patients and I believed that my near-death experience had given me the accurate empathy and compassion necessary to help them in their darkest hours and I wanted to parlay that into a career. Working as a helper had helped me; it was as though I was giving something back to the medical community for saving my life. I reasoned that if work was to pay for my life, then I would have to work at something rewarding for a lifetime. I believed that helping others with similar fates to my own could somehow validate my painful experience. After years of study, while living alone under the poverty line, I qualified and commenced work in March 2007 as a psychologist in private practice. I found that studying and working as a psychologist balanced my temperament more precisely. Improving the cognitive and behavioral skills to manage my own mind and body better, had proved invaluable in containing the harsh effects of my heart condition. The satisfaction I’d gained from facilitating others’ ability to help themselves meant on some level that my pain and suffering had been worth it. I also enjoyed the variety of work that I managed to do on a part time basis since my qualification, including lecturing at university and organizational psychology consulting. While these two roles are less immediate to one’s core health needs, they’d provided me with the opportunity to learn and share knowledge on the infinitely fascinating subject of the humanities in a broader, refreshing manner.
I was really inspired by work, and my rising spirit kept me going with less than ideal energy levels. I was rebuilding myself and life was as good as it could get. But my heart disease would soon return to haunt me.
In December 2008, less than two years after I’d managed to re-invent myself, I was playing cricket at a Christmas gathering with my university colleagues, when I suddenly collapsed in a heap. I’d eaten lunch and had drunk two light beers on a warm summer’s day, shortly before running between the wickets and heading for the outfield. It was then that my colleagues noticed me “go down like a cowboy in a Western gun battle.”
Apparently, the scar tissue on my heart caused me to have a CA and I dropped to my knees, before slamming my face into the hard dirt. Amazingly, I was lucky, I was saved by a quick-thinking and skilled friend and colleague. She resuscitated me within seconds of my going down and miraculously kept the blood flowing through my brain with ongoing CPR until an ambulance had arrived a few minutes later. An hour of resuscitation onsite helped convince me to hold onto life; once I was fully stabilized, the paramedics immediately transported me to a hospital’s intensive care unit. I remained there for 24 hours, covered by an ice blanket, to cool my body and reduce my heart’s function to a bare minimum. I remained in hospital for nine days and had the defibrillator fitted in my chest. Now I was assured of being one of the five percent of people who survive from CA, and without any brain damage.
Nobody knows exactly how I survived that day. I suspect that my friend’s incredibly quick response of doing CPR without hesitation kick-started a chain of events that either science or Divine Intervention could lay claim to. Some have speculated that there was something about me that may have contributed. And perhaps this is true. Since my surgery, I maintained a level of good health by exercising, eating, resting, keeping in touch with friends, finding a purpose in life, and generally being happy in spite of having heart disease. Perhaps my spirit’s unwillingness to give up played a role in my survival. I’ve always felt the conflict between my ailing body and my strong spirit. But the reality was that I needed to stay as fit and as healthy as possible, because when I would get really tired, I lost the ability to do those things that made me feel alive and brought me back to myself. After my CA in 2008, I found myself clutching at straws since conventional medicine was the only means I knew of to help me to live at my fullest but, at times, it fell short of that goal.
My life since then has been a mix of celebration and disconsolation. As noted earlier, the defibrillator has saved my life three times in the last 18 months, but each shock has pained me, first because of the uncertainty it instills in me about a future with a faulty heart, and second, because I wasn’t allowed to drive for six months afterwards. Studies indicate that defibrillator shocks tend to be followed by another within six months, which implies some likelihood of a car accident occurring. And it was very difficult to return to all three work roles but I’ve managed, albeit at a reduced capacity. I just had to return to work because of its importance; if not for my financial needs, for the purpose and self-esteem it provides. But what was even more difficult, was my attempt to reconcile my hopes for improvement with the specialists’ suggestion that I get my family affairs in order. In fact, one of the specialists repudiated my belief that ASC therapy could improve my life by citing an old French study which suggested that stem cells aggravate heart arrhythmias. The specialist said, “That’s ok, you can go and get the treatment because you’re safe…you have a defibrillator that will just keep going off until the battery runs out.” I was stunned by his blatant disregard for my welfare, as I’m sure he’d have been aware that many patients can become afflicted with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after only one shock, much less many.
Thankfully, my persistence, resilience and knowledge of VesCell’s data, which proudly suggests that none of its patients had experienced treatment-related arrhythmias, held me steadfast to exploring this new course of treatment.
I thought of telling the ‘expert’ that his ego and arrogance were getting in the way of my quest for a prolonged life. But all I said was, “You know, no matter how many hundreds or thousands of patients you have come to treat for their heart condition, it’s obvious that the condition was never yours.” And with that, I calmly collected myself, said goodbye and walked out of his office. No pun intended, but I believe that one must know in his or her heart that there comes a moment when you have to go with your gut to do the right thing.
PART 2 IN NEXT ISSUE: OCTOBER 29.
The Repair Stem Cell Institute (RSCI) www.RepairStemCells.org has constantly warned patients about the overuse of profitable, but frequently useless and always dangerous “standard” procedures in the medical system. RSCI has constantly claimed that maintaining corporate profits is the reason that western medicine will keep stem cells away from suffering patients, and heart patients are, by far, the most abused.
For years, RSCI has claimed that bypass surgery, angioplasties and angiograms are extremely overused to generate money rather than good health; citing several books and papers by honest cardiologists. (1) But the FDA is controlled by money, not by patients, so super-safe stem cells are out, while dangerous procedures are locked in. Nothing will stop it but you, the informed patient. And we do not mean by rallying public opinion. We mean that YOU should be informed so you can protect YOURSELF against a profits-only, no-cures-allowed, patients-be-damned, corrupt medical system; a system, which as you will see below, is more concerned about law suits than in proper patient care
What follows below is not written by RSCI, though it may seem so.
Bypass Surgery—an honest medical opinion
*Coronary-bypass surgery consumes more of our medical dollar than any other treatment or procedure.
*It is the leader in terms of total associated revenues. The operation is heralded by the popular press, aggrandized by the medical profession, and actively sought by the consuming public.
*The operation does not cure patients, it is scandalously overused, and its high cost drains resources from other areas of need.
---Preston TA: Marketing an operation: Coronary artery bypass surgery. J Holistic Med 1985;7(1):8-15. Dr. Thomas A. Preston is Professor of Medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine and Chief of Cardiology at Pacific Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. (2)
In 2007, USA-Today published a study which demolished the overuse of angioplasties, but money again trumphed---angioplasties are still far too overused. RSCI published a story of a woman who was emotionally driven to stem cell therapy when her cardiologist suggested a 25TH angioplasty for her. Today that woman has just passed her fifth year after stem cells with zero angioplasties. (3)
This year (2010) USA Today came out with the results of a study which, once again, proved RSCI correct beyond any doubt. Notice in this article, everyone quoted is afraid to specify the dangers:
Radiation Iodine Poisoning Normal surgical death risk
Notice how NO ONE mentions the real reason for the overuse of all three of the above money-making scams: REFERRAL FEES. Your doctor says you need a bypass, he connects you to the surgeon, your insurance pays that surgeon an outrageous fee, your doctor makes several hundred bucks from the surgeon (and/or the hospital).
USA TODAY MARCH 2010
A troublingly high number of U.S. patients who are given angiograms to check for heart disease turn out not to have a significant problem, according to the latest study to suggest Americans get an excess of medical tests.
The researchers said the findings suggest doctors must do better in determining which patients should be subjected to the cost and risks of an angiogram. The test carries a small but real risk — less than 1% — of causing a stroke or heart attack, and also entails radiation exposure.
"We can do better. There is no doubt in my mind," said Dr. Ralph Brindis of the University of California, San Francisco, one of the study's authors.
Every year in the United States, more than a million people get an angiogram, in which a thin tube is inserted in the arm or groin and threaded up to the heart to check for blocked arteries that could lead to a heart attack. Dye is injected through the tube to make blockages show up on X-rays.
Angiograms are often given to patients who might be having a heart attack or have symptoms that suggest a serious blockage. They are also sometimes done on people who may have some less clear-cut symptoms, like shortness of breath, or no symptoms but some risky traits like high cholesterol and an abnormal result on another heart test. This group accounts for about 20 to 30% of angiogram cases.
In the study, nearly two-thirds of the patients in this second group were found to have no serious blockages!!!
The researchers could not establish why so few proved to have heart disease. But Dr. Harlan Krumholz, a Yale cardiologist and health-outcomes researcher unconnected to the study, said he thinks the problem arises because doctors are afraid of missing something, and also getting sued.
"We fear doing too little," he said. "I think that we developed a culture where people feel that doing more and knowing more is always the proper course. What that does is sometimes lead us to overuse."
Researchers said more study is needed to sort out how to better select patients for an angiogram. For now, experts suggest patients in the category studied by the researchers question their doctors about the need for the test and the risks and alternatives.
To decide whether someone needs an angiogram, a doctor assesses a patient's medical status and symptoms, and usually tries a noninvasive test, such as an ultrasound of the heart or having the patient run on a treadmill. It is this gatekeeper process that needs improvement, researchers suggested in Thursday's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
They sifted through records of nearly 2 million angiograms performed at 663 U.S. hospitals between 2004 and April 2008. The data came from a registry kept by the American College of Cardiology, which sponsored the study.
The researchers focused on about 400,000 patients who raised doctors' suspicions but had no known heart disease and weren't getting emergency heart treatment.
In those people, the test revealed no significant artery blockages 62% of the time. That doesn't mean all those tests were unnecessary, but the rate is high enough to suggest doctors could do a better job of choosing who really needs the exam, researchers said.
The researchers suggested doctors should be less willing to order an angiogram for symptom-free patients, a group that made up 30% of the study sample.
Beyond that, further study might help doctors better gauge heart disease risk from a patient's symptoms and characteristics like age and history of other diseases, said lead author Dr. Manesh Patel of Duke University.
Doctors could also use more research to help them choose the right noninvasive test, which might reduce the need for angiograms, he said.
Choices now include the treadmill test, injecting a radioactive solution to trace blood flow within the heart, doing an ultrasound to watch the walls of the heart moving, and doing a specialized CT scan that has recently shown promise.
"We still haven't figured out, in all honesty, the best way of applying these technologies," Brindis said.
In fact, one of the study's co-authors — Dr. Pamela Douglas of Duke — just received a $32.5 million federal grant, the largest ever for heart imaging, to compare various heart imaging tests and see which ones do the most to prevent heart attacks, deaths and hospitalization.
Experts praised Patel's study.
Some previous reports have found similar results, but the new study is so huge "we can now feel comfortable these aren't isolated findings, this is for real," said Dr. Michael Lauer, director of the division of cardiovascular sciences at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
END OF USA TODAY ARTICLE
(1) Google ANGIOPLASTY OVERUSE and you’ll get ¼ million hits.
Google STENT OVERUSE and you’ll get ½ million hits.
Google BYPASS OVERUSE and you’ll get ¾ million hits.
(2) For full article: http://www.drcranton.com/chelation/cabg1.htm
(3) For a pdf copy of her story,
Subject: DEE (no message required)
Neil's mother, seven months pregnant, was in a serious car accident which caused Neil's early birth and left her severely crippled. Born two months prematurely, Neil weighed only 3 pounds. Because his respiratory system was not yet fully developed Neil was placed in an incubator. He stopped breathing on three separate occasions during his month long stay in the neo-natal care unit. It was obvious that this small baby wanted to live and he fought the odds to survive.
At the age of 2 years Neil had a difficult time crawling and he wasn't gaining weight. He was diagnosed with mixed cerebral palsy and was the size of the average 10 month baby. At 5 years, Neil was struggling to walk as his grandparents walked behind him and kept him from falling. For nine consecutive months, doctors had a series of casts on Neil's legs to straighten them. When the final cast was removed, Neil never walked again.
Neil was not accepted in the public school's kindergarten program in Alabama, so his grandmother enrolled him in the Calvary Christian School's kindergarten program in Phenix City. Neil's grandmother took him to school everyday in a stroller, as he looked more like a 3 year old than a 6 year old.
For grades 1 to 3, Neil was back in public school, but now he was in special needs classes which was helpful for his physical difficulties. Neil maintained an A+ average from grade school through high school.
Neil's thirst for knowledge and his quest to be the best he could be was an increasing struggle as his body slowly deteriorated. He is a quadriplegic with full body involvement, which means his head and neck are affected. He has limited use of his left hand and the extension of his arm. He has full use of his right hand and right arm. The muscles in his legs are too weak to support his body weight. If he tries to stand his entire body shakes and he falls to the ground and is unable to get up on his own. He has problems with visual scanning of both eyes, which makes it difficult to read a paragraph of words.
Knowing Neil's ambitions and thirst for knowledge, his grandparents helped him go to college. Neil received a scholarship to Chattahoochee Valley Community College. The college was not set up for someone with Neil's disabilities so his grandfather took him to school everyday and stayed in class with him to help him through the day. Neil graduated from junior college Suma Cum Laude with an Associates degree in Art and a 3.8 GPA. He went on to Troy University, with a major in psychology and maintained straight A'S. Near the end of the first year his grandfather died, and Neil has been unable to continue his education.
Neil has continually searched for a treatment or someone to help him improve his quality of life. He has researched to find something to help his deteriorating body, he started reading everything he could find on stem cells, as that seemed promising for the future. The problem being, how far off is the future?. ... For Neil, his grandfather had died, his grandmother now the sole person left to care for Neil is 83 years old and Neil's body is slowly deteriorating.
Neil's search led him to an article about a toddler in Florida, Cameron Petersen, who received umbilical cord blood stem cells for optic nerve hypoplasia. From all the information Neil gathered he discovered that this little blind boy could now see and his health had improved as a result of the stem cell treatment. Upon further research, while looking for more information on the most qualified facilities in the world he was lead to Don Margolis of the Repair Stem Cell Institute. After numerous conversations and with the guidance of Mr. Margolis, Neil also discovered that Carol Petersen, Cameron’s grandmother, was now an advocate of adult stem cells because of the improvements her grandson gained from his treatment.
Neil read information on several web sites about patients’ improvements after receiving umbilical stem cell treatments. He also read that many of these patients were getting together to share information about their treatments with the public at various venues around the country as part of a Stem Cell Awareness program.
Now age 29, Neil contacted Carol and asked her to help him!.... As an advocate, she helps people with their needs. The regenerative capabilities of umbilical cord blood stem cells have given patients with cerebral palsy significant improvements and a better quality of life. Neil desperately wants to be one of these as his time is running out.... Neil passed the first big test earlier this year when he was accepted for treatment, scheduled as follows:
*Admission date: December 28, 2010 *Discharge date: August 28, 2011
*Additional notes: Patient will be traveling with his grandmother. The patient will be staying in the hospital with his grandmother for eight months. He will receive the first round of six injections in the first month. He will receive physical therapies, 6 days per week for the following 6 months. He will receive the second round of six injections in the eighth month.
Note from Don Margolis:
Now that you’ve read Neil’s story, you know how much he needs our help. Just weeks away is not a lot of time, but I know we can make a significant change in Neil’s life if we join together to help him.
We can give Neil the chance to live his life in a meaningful way. We can give Neil the same benefits other cerebral palsy patients have enjoyed from this stem cell treatment.
Neil has done everything right, but his latest fight needs our help. With his treatment just weeks away, there’s no time to spare to raise the funds he needs now.
So much is riding on the outcome of our efforts,
Please donate what you can. Together we can do this! Every donation will help in this important cause! Neil is counting on us to come through for him!
Thank you for your support.
Please Donate now by clicking this link, which will take you to Stem Cells for Hope, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization:
Click here to donate http://www.stemcellsforhope.org/
Thank you for your generosity.
SUPER STEMMYS – DORIS AND THE SUPERCELLS
Super Stemmys, Doris and the Supercells is the first ever children’s story on stem cells.
A stem cell named Doris and her stem cell friends must all join forces and work together to repair an ailing heart and defeat Morbidus the Vile.
100% of the proceeds from sales of
Super Stemmys, Doris and the Supercells
Go to the Repair Stem Cell Institute (RSCI) to help patients.
Newsletter is for educational purposes only and not to be taken as medical