By Tom Cowan, M.D.
A recent article in the New York Times about a study published last month in The Lancet, perhaps the most prestigious medical journal in the world, is no doubt creating a stir in the conventional-cardiology world. The headline was “Unbelievable”: Heart Stents Fail to Ease Chest Pain.
The study was actually the second of two very interesting studies published by The Lancet, both of which seriously challenge core beliefs and practices in modern cardiology. It was conducted in England, where, for the first time, the authors compared the chest pain of patients who had stents placed compared to those who had a dummy procedure, in which catheters were inserted but stents were not placed. Studies (1) have already shown that stents and bypasses don’t prevent future heart attacks or increase longevity.
To the shock of many cardiologists who commented on the study, there was no difference in outcome of those who had the stent compared with those who had the dummy procedure.
This result means the final claim made by stent proponents — symptom control — also turns out to be untrue. At this point, it is hard to understand the rationale for the use of stents in any condition except, possibly, in the acute treatment of an ongoing heart attack involving the proximal part of the left anterior descending coronary artery, which, cardiologists say, improves the outcome.
While many cardiologists expressed surprise and even dismay at the results, for those of you who have followed my writings on the cause and treatment of angina and heart attacks, this finding will come as no surprise. Many factors other than lesions in the coronary arteries lead people to suffer from heart disease. Until cardiologists learn to look at the imbalance in the autonomic nervous system, the microcirculation and the build-up of lactic acid in the heart cells, no resolution of our heart-disease epidemic will be found. Unfortunately, a safe and effective medicine that addresses these factors, strophanthus/ouabain, is sadly overlooked and forgotten in conventional cardiology circles.
The second interesting article published by The Lancet concerns the role of macronutrients (fats, proteins and carbohydrates) in the diet and their relation to cardiovascular disease and overall mortality. To quote the conclusion of the study:
“High carbohydrate intake was associated with higher risk of total mortality, whereas total fat and individual types of fat were related to lower total mortality. Total fat and types of fat were not associated with cardiovascular disease, myocardial infarction, or cardiovascular disease mortality, whereas saturated fat had an inverse association with stroke. Global dietary guidelines should be reconsidered in light of these findings.”
To put this is plain English, the more carbohydrates you consume, the greater your risk of dying.
Fat intake, no matter what type, had no effect on heart disease, and eating more fat, especially saturated fat, lowered the risk of stroke or of dying.
The authors conclude with the ironic statement that after 50-plus years of bad dietary advice, maybe the cardiologists should rethink what they tell their patients.
The good news is that most people now realize that the standard dietary advice is and has always been misleading, and people are forging ahead on their own with more effective and sustaining dietary regimens. In my book Human Heart, Cosmic Heart, I lay out a simple and effective dietary strategy based on exactly these guidelines.
All in all, it appears that the medical consensus many have suffered under for so long is beginning to crumble. Hopefully, a newer, more inspiring medical model will soon find its place in our world.
-  Rihal CS, et al.: Indications for coronary artery bypass surgery and percutaneous coronary intervention in chronic stable angina. Circulation (2003), 108:2439-2445