Statins, the Heart Scan, & Stone Cold Proof that I’m Right

High, low, normal cholesterol? Take a statin.

High, low, normal cholesterol? Take a statin.

In the following article I will prove to you that I know how to treat heart disease better than your family doc, internist or cardiologist because I can provide laboratory evidence to back it up. This article is a page or two longer than usual but it is the most important blog so far on statins. In fact, it’s the foundation for my entire book. So please try to finish it as a matter of life and death.Once you know I’m for real then accepting my advice may save your life or your loved ones.

In spite of massive statin prescribing the incidence of CHD has not decreased and may in fact be rising. I have already mentioned compelling evidence that statins themselves may be accelerating it. There is another force promoting heart disease, one so powerful that it has impaled the proven benefits of smoking cessation. That new and powerful heart disease promoting force is the current AHA and ADA dietary guidelines which recommend essentially unlimited amounts of complex carbohydrate, the use of the proinflammatory omega 6 vegetable oils, sugar and trans fatty acids (TFA) in the form of margarine and non-dairy creamers. In Welcome to the Industrial Diner, the chapter devoted to diet, I will show you in detail that these foods are toxic to your endothelium while some categories lower HDL and raise triglycerides (both proven risk factors).

One of the big problems is called sugar toxicity or glucotoxicity-this is one of the factors that’s causing our problems along with the increasing use of the powerful inflammation generating omega 6 oils. It’s not saturated fat or cholesterol that’s causing your misery rather it’s not being told by our Elites that excessive consumption of non-fibrous carbohydrate, omega 6 oils and sugar are terribly inflammatory. In fact, sugar can glycate LDL and create a new “super sticky” LDL particle that is far worse than oxLDL. This is where it starts to look criminal. How many of you know that sugar can do this to you? In order to continue selling statins the paradigm-that dietary saturated fat, cholesterol and serum LDL cholesterol are bad-must be maintained at the expense of truth. Therefore Americans eat these other “healthy” whole or refined grains and sugars with abandon because they do not know they may be unhealthy choices. In my verbose section on diet Welcome to the Industrial Diner I explain how non-fibrous carbohydrates (grains, sugars, some tubers) are instantly converted into sugar in the small bowel and absorbed. In other words eating some of these foods is like eating pure sugar. This helps to explain why I was able to disregard statin use and never experience a hiccup in my transformation as long as I cut out sugar and non-fibrous carbohydrates. Is it starting to make sense how one can easily heal while simultaneously avoiding the Commercial Sick Care System (CSCS)? It’s actually easier than you might think.

Take for example a study recently published [1] showing that the more carbohydrate you eat the lower your serum HDL level and the higher your serum triglycerides (TG’s) will be. Had the investigators bothered to check NMR profiles of serum LDL they would have found that the highest carb eaters would have the atherogenic (easily oxidized), small, dense, LDL particle profile as well. This is something that high fat intake has never been able to cause in any study. Low HDL really is a risk factor for heart disease as are high TG’s. That’s because they reflect excessive carbohydrate (sugar and grains mostly) consumption and the glucotoxicity that accompanies it. Try to view the ratio of TG/HDL as your measure of carbohydrate toxicity. If the ratio is over 3 you need to cut back on your carb consumption. Ideally you want it as close to 1 as possible or even less than 1.

As I mention throughout this volume-and in keeping with the Commercial Sick Care System’s philosophy-following my cardiologist’s dietary recommendations at the time of my diagnosis would have left me for dead. I want you to sit a minute and digest what I just said. It is of the utmost importance that it sinks in and that you believe me. Rephrasing it-The Commercial Sick Care System’s cardiology wing, the politicized American Heart Association and the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, the AHA and the NHLBI, are wrong in their dietary advice for the cardiac patient with atherosclerosis. Their recommendations promote heart disease while my recommendations do not and the proof is that I am still alive, after 17 years post heart attack, and in better shape than ever before.

MY PROOF

Not only do I have compelling evidence on my side from dozens of studies but I also know from personal experience, as a cardiac patient, that eating trans-fat margarine, high glycemic cereal grains, artificial sweeteners, cheap omega 6 seed oils and low fat/high sugar Industrial Dinners (a term I coined for my book it’s essentially all processed foods) makes you much sicker and my heart scan proves I’m right. Let’s take a look shall we?

THE SCAN

Typical heart scanner

Typical heart scanner

I highly recommend that you, dear reader, consider getting a heart scan if you have any risks in your family, if you smoke, eat Industrial Dinners often, are 40 years old or older or you have any other risks such as overweight or you are hypertensive. You do not need a doctor’s prescription for the 2 dimensional study. Simply walk in a get scanned. In California, in the Bay Area, they would often have them on sale for $150 per scan. That is the best deal around. They are extremely accurate and very, very useful as you will see below. Please bear with me while I explain why these scans are so useful and why you should have one. I have to get a bit technical.

When you get a heart scan which is simply a special CAT scan, which takes all of a few minutes fully clothed, you receive a report. In the report is a coronary artery calcium (CAC) score. This score is based on the amount of calcium in the atherosclerotic plaque that you have in your coronary arteries if any. The amount of calcium, your calcium burden, is referenced to the general population to give you the score. It ranges from zero which is no calcium hence no plaque to thousands which is very bad. Most doctors don’t get too concerned until you reach a score of around 100. At that level some doctors recommend treatment with medications (see below). Hitting the 100 mark is like adding another risk factor to your overall risk for heart disease such as adding smoking to your bad habits.

My calcium score is 42. While not zero, which is essentially zero risk, it is far below even the moderate risk score of 100. A score this low is NOT consistent with heart disease. It also shows nearly all of the calcium within the first and only lesion I ever had: my right circumflex artery. The calcium score is an excellent predictor of future heart attack risk because every plaque will have a certain percentage of calcification.

Coronary calcium scores have outperformed conventional risk factors, highly sensitive C-reactive protein (CRP) and carotid intima media thickness (IMT) [an ultrasound measurement of the carotid arteries which accurately reflect coronary arteries] as a predictor of cardiovascular events.CAC [coronary artery calcium] was a stronger independent predictor of future events than a sum of all of the conventional risk factors combined (Kennedy et al 1998).[2]

In a coronary artery plaque calcium levels increase by a certain percentage every year but everyone is different. We can follow the CAC score over the years to monitor the patient’s lifestyle changes-to see if they have made any impact. The goal would be to REVERSE your CAC score which demonstrates a reversal of atherosclerosis. If your lifestyle reduces inflammation your calcium percentage will increase at a slower rate, not at all or even reverse itself. Those patients who are more like a typical American have higher levels of inflammation and will increase their CAC on average by 15-17% per year but it can increase at a much faster rate in those who have massive amounts of inflammation. It all depends on lifestyle. Therein lies the key to success.

Furthermore, studies indicate that in order to have a significant stenosis (narrowing of a coronary artery from a large plaque burden) of an artery the calcium score needs to be quite high:

…individuals with large plaque burden, that is individuals with coronary calcium scores greater than 400, have a high likelihood (>90%) of at least one significantly obstructed coronary vessel (>70% stenosis). Therefore; finding an individual with a coronary calcium score greater than 400 does justify further physiologic evaluation such as stress testing…[T]he calcium sore alone is a more powerful predictor of future events than all other risk factors combined.[3]

After my angiography only one vessel was diseased and completely occluded. I cannot tell you what the calcium score was since the first scan I got was 13 years later. It may have been 400 or more or it may have been less. I don’t know for sure. What I can tell you is that based on the statistics in all likelihood my calcium score, at the time of my heart attack, was at least 100 (and most likely much higher than 100) to be consistent with a CHD risk history from supporting documents as seen below.

Therefore, all patients with CAC scores >100 should be considered for statin therapy, aspirin and possibly ACE inhibition [blood pressure lowering medication], given the increased cardiovascular risk associated with this level of coronary atherosclerosis, concurring with the current NCEP Adult Treatment Panel (ATP) III guidelines.[4]

Let’s say my original calcium score was a mere 50 for arguments sake even though it was probably much higher because statistically those with lower scores like 50 have a very small probability of having a heart attack. Increasing the value by 15% per year by year 13 after the heart attack it would be 384 and by year 15 it would be 526. My calcium score was 42 (not 384 or even close to it) in year 13 when it was tested. How do we explain that? If I were an average American with an inflammatory lifestyle being treated by a typical Doc in the Box cardiologist the value would have been increasing every year because your cardiologist is lowering cholesterol NOT treating inflammation (the true cause of heart disease). That’s where the 384 comes from if I started with a CAC of 50. But we know that it must have been much higher on that fateful day. You can do the math but if we started with 100 (or 400) by year 13 we are much, much higher than 384 using a 15% calcification rate.

But instead my value is a mere 42-it’s a small number for someone who had a major heart attack. It lies way under the radar for increased risk. Therefore, one can only conclude that for the last 16 years, ever since I drastically changed my lifestyle, it has been reversing every year since those changes in my diet and lifestyle were enacted. Following the reversal of one’s plaque burden and calcium score is the most meaningful and accurate measurement we have outside of angiography. It is quickly becoming as accurate as angiography and soon may be used as a substitute in many cases. Consequently, it is possible to reverse atherosclerosis but you have to know what you are doing to pull it off. You can only reverse a calcium score when you are doing everything right and that literally means every “thing.

If I did not understand the entire process of atherosclerosis and the numerous risk factors that the Elites never tell you about and I missed a key measure like for example a high serum homocysteine (one of many proven risk factors totally unrelated to cholesterol) level then I would continue the atherosclerotic process without a hitch. Then when I finally got my heart scan I would see evidence for the fact that I do not know what I am doing by witnessing a high CAC score meaning that I was not able to change the progression of the disease. This is not the case.

A MOST IMPORTANT POINT

Weight at heart attack about 205. This shot here about 160. The above image is not your typical cardiac patient hence my doc calling me the AHA Poster Boy!

Weight at heart attack about 205. This shot here about 160. The above image is not your typical cardiac patient hence my doc calling me the AHA Poster Boy!

Now here’s the most important part of all. I did the entire reversal using food, exercise and supplements as medicine. Moreover, it has made me stronger, not weaker. Which is how I feel, I feel I am getting stronger every year not sicker and weaker. Is that proof enough? It should be sufficient proof for even a seasoned cardiologist joined at the hip to the Commercial Sick Care System. That is why this book needs to be published. People need to know that there is an honest, real, healthy and fun way to overcome the world’s biggest killer.

Remember one very important point in all of this: I am literally betting my life on understanding what REALLY happened to me, how and why it occurred. To learn the real causes of heart disease and dodging the typical prognosis of your average cardiac patient under the CSCS. Which means a gradual decline in health with numerous heart attacks, scores of heart catheterizations, perhaps open-heart surgery and eventual heart failure (all while on a statin, Carvedilol, Plavix, aspirin, an ACE inhibitor for blood pressure, and more). I am deliberately avoiding statins because they are not a substitute for diet and lifestyle changes, they are toxic, they seem to accelerate atherosclerosis and the simple and profound fact that cholesterol is not the problem. Cholesterol is not evil. I will not sacrifice my health for the welfare of corporate drug makers, which I see as a swindle. Many cardiologists would condemn that move as ignorant and naïve. In the end we both can’t be right. Either the Elites of medicine, with huge conflicts of interest, are telling the truth and statins really are miraculous, or I’m right and my way is the true path.

But how long must one wait to be proven right or wrong? If I am wrong then explain the CAC score of 42?  Tell me why it’s not in the 500’s or worse. Why is the crippling angina I suffered with now gone, even running hills and doing intervals? Can I still be wrong with these present numbers and facts after all this time? No, I do not think so-sorry statin industry. I am proof of my veritas: after 17 years since my heart attack I should have infarcted once more or stroked out. One look at my lipid profile back then would make a hardened cardiologist cry with an HDL of 23, an LDL over 150, and triglycerides over 300. The inflammation must have been astronomical but it was never tested. At that time my cardiologist had a terrible prognosis for me. My latest hsCRP, a measure of coronary artery inflammation, is almost zero-it’s 0.05. I know you don’t know much about that number but for now trust me that it is an amazingly low number. A good value for men is 0.5 a whole order of magnitude higher! The average man with metabolic syndrome (80 million in the US alone) has an hsCRP around 3 or higher. So at one time I was in terrible shape and I suppose I deserved the heart attack.

As they say that was Zen, this is Dao. I did nothing more than change my lifestyle. As far as drugs go I did a Nancy Reagan: I just said no to all of them. Therefore if anyone desperately needed a statin to save his life back then it would have been me. If I were truly ignorant and naïve of the true causes of atherosclerosis my CAC should be over-the-top, I should have infarcted and have shown general signs of deterioration. But gee whiz folks I haven’t infarcted or stroked out, I’m still alive and I am stronger and more fit. What does that say? It says that I must be right and as weird as it sounds all of the other so called experts and authorities are wrong. Little ol me comes out on top-who would have thought? Actually it’s not as weird as you might initially think. When you consider everything you have learned so far it’s not shocking at all: the junk science, the conflicts of interest, the disgusting amount of Payola farmed out to our “thought leaders” in medicine, revolving door corruption, over 30 billion in profits on statins alone and the near complete control of medical research and publishing by Big Pharma. You now have a choice. Continue within the CSCS or follow my advice. When you consider most clinical trials last about 5 years I think 17 years is long enough for any trial to demonstrate to you or anybody else for that matter that my personal experiment, research and conclusions on inflammation (heart disease) have more Gung Fu than any low cholesterol, low fat, pro-statin industry “useful idiot’s” suggestions that fatten bank accounts and kill patients.


[2]   Matthew J Budoff and Khawar M Gul Expert review on coronary calcium Vasc Health Risk Manag. 2008 April; 4(2): 315–324.

[4] Matthew J Budoff and Khawar M Gul Expert review on coronary calcium Vasc Health Risk Manag. 2008 April; 4(2): 315–324.



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Category: STATINS

About the Author ()

Dr. Christopher Rasmussen (aka Reality Renegade) is the author of his upcoming book, "InflaNATION: Industrial Diners & A Doc In The Box." By deliberately avoiding harmful industrial foods and the Commercial Sick Care System with its Pills and Procedures paradigm, Dr Rasmussen cured himself of a deadly disease-which became the reason for writing this book. In the book, he provides the facts you must know and the solutions to regain your health, maintain wellness, and outlive your parents' generation in an extraordinarily toxic world.

Comments (5)

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  1. Danny Lyons says:

    Commercial Sick Care System (CSCS) I’m CSCS free, that sounds good I will have to remember that one Chris.
    That is why this book needs to be published. People need to know that there is an honest, real, healthy and fun way to overcome the world’s biggest killer. Without a doubt your book defiantly needs to be published, as someone who previously suffered a heart attack I totally agree with you and I am starting to see and reap the rewards of diet change leading to less inflammation. Your photo showing the 6 pack is putting me under a bit of pressure with the wife she wants to know if I will have one when I’m 17 years over my heart attack. I re tweeted your post, this information needs to get out .

  2. Christopher Rasmussen MD, MS (aka "Reality Renegade") says:

    Hello Danny,
    I had a good laugh with the sixer comment. The thing that did it for me was the realization that if really wanted to reduce my body fat I had to keep the “cheat days” to a bare minimum and exercise every day. I usually cheated once a week or so like going out for dinner-just to keep sane. I found that I was always playing catch up for a few days after. In the end there was no net fat loss for the week, no gain either but not getting any leaner by this method.
    Then I just decided to hell with it and I gave up carbs for a few months in a very strict way with no cheating. Then the fat slowly disappeared over a few months to where you see it now in the photo. We are talking about vanity pounds here for sure but it does feel very nice to be lean and fit. Especially with my history-to sort of stick it in the eye of the CSCS and show them what is possible when you follow a true wellness program. Also it is critical to get your thyroid in perfect shape or the fat will never come off-period. Bodybuilders take advantage of this all th time by taking Cytomel to get leaner. A little risky but it works.
    In my book I make the claim: “If you don’t look the part, you’re not that smart.” Meaning for example, why would anyone seek out a fat, out of shape, physician who claims he practices preventive and wellness medicine when he can’t even get himself in shape. Yet, that’s what people do all of the time. Look at Dr Andrew Weil or Dr Davis (Wheat Belly). Weil looks older than his age and is very overweight for being the king of preventive medicine. Dr Davis sports his own wheat belly and could lose 30 pounds easy plus neither is in even moderately good physical shape. They look old and flabby. So why believe anything they say? It’s like the roof repair guy who has a leaking roof on his own home!
    Just remember my friend if I can do it so can you. I am nobody special and I probably have a worse time metabolizing carbs than you do. I was a real mess-way worse than you know. Perhaps I’ll get into that later.
    Cheers!

  3. robert lipp says:

    Hi Doc
    RE: Try to view the ratio of TG/HDL as your measure of carbohydrate toxicity. If the ratio is over 3 you need to cut back on your carb consumption. Ideally you want it as close to 1 as possible or even less than 1.
    Please can you advise the URL reference to the science which says that this is the key CVD risk measurement. My card I still follows LDL values and wants it lower.
    Many thanks
    Robert

    • Christopher Rasmussen MD, MS (aka "Reality Renegade") says:

      Hello Robert,
      Yes, here’s some comment and then I’ll give you the link. Keep in mind that I am the heart disease laboratory animal. If anything I did over the last two decades was incorrect, I’d be dead or seriously sick. But alas I’m not, not even close. I recently tested out with the fitness level of a 22 year old. I doubt if any of your doctor’s patients can make that claim. But they could if they were told the truth on the causes of heart disease (sugar, carbs, and about two dozen other Irritating Agents like high homocysteine and nicotine, but NOT cholesterol). Since my ideas on diet are so opposed to the AHA’s ideas, we both can’t be right.
      Look around you at all of your cardiologist’s patients. How do they look to you? Healthy, vital, disease free? Not.

      Now, how is it that the TG/HDL level is so predictive? I thought you’d never ask my friend. It’s because both TG and HDL are markers for insulin and carbohydrate toxicity. The higher your fasting insulin level, the higher your TG’s will be and the lower your HDL=not good! Having a high fasting insulin level is one of the most destructive things that you can do to yourself. Read on the damaging effects of high insulin levels. Google insulin heart disease. It promotes heart disease. And while your at it throw away your statin. I now have three studies, one is a meta-analysis, that clearly show that statins ACCELERATE ATHEROSCLEROSIS. Yep.

      A new study suggests that level of triglyceride in the blood may help predict heart attack risk as well as other more well-known blood fats such as LDL and HDL cholesterol. High triglycerides alone increased the risk of heart attack nearly three-fold, according to a report in the current issue of Circulation. And people with the highest ratio of triglycerides to HDL — the “good” cholesterol — had 16 times the risk of heart attack as those with the lowest ratio of triglycerides to HDL in the study of 340 heart attack patients and 340 of their healthy, same age counterparts. The ratio of triglycerides to HDL was the strongest predictor of a heart attack, even more accurate than the LDL/HDL ratio,” reported Harvard lead study author.

      Circulation 1997;96:2520-2525 (FREE Full Text Reference article)http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/96/8/2520.full

  4. robert lipp says:

    Thanks Doc
    That was an observational study completed in may 1997 – 17 odd years ago. Is there anything more recent? Perhaps more like RCT. If the observations were so strong then I would hope for something stronger that is more recent. My cardi would correctly dismiss this and say the best science currently available says LDL cholesterol is the best risk measure. It must be low. To get it low take statins. I need to show him the science that says no statins because of this science, no LDL cholesterol because of this science, but measure this ratio for risk. By-the-by on lchf I have lost 18kg, BMI now 25, blood pressure very low so stopped meds, cholesterol numbers good so stopped statin. Now waiting on follow up visit and med free lchf bloods.
    Thanks Robert

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