November 29, 2007  
  
 
 

Back to Healthy Books

Forty Something Forever: The Consumer's Guide to Chelation Therapy"
By Arline and Harold Brecher
 

Chapter One
"HELLO" CHELATION!

Sixty-two year old Bill Thompson (not his real name) was a newly arrived condo-owner in a Florida retirement community when he began having chest pains. "It must be something I ate," he assured his wife. "Since when are you a doctor?" she asked. "You should have it checked out," advised a neighbor who'd recently had a bypass.

After acknowledging he occasionally had leg cramps and sometimes found it hard to breathe, Mr. T. agreed to see his golf-buddy's cardiologist.

The examining physician ordered a battery of tests before issuing his grim diagnosis: "It's atherosclerosis, all right. You've got hardening of the arteries; there's not enough blood getting through to your heart. Your blood pressure is 154/108; heart function less than fifty percent of normal; there's almost total blockage of the left ventricle arteries leading to the heart and 70% occlusion of the other vessels. It's not good."

"What do you suggest?" Bill asked. "Drugs, diet, no more booze, give up smoking? I'd hate to give up gin rummy and golf."

"You're too far gone," the physician said. "You need a triple bypass and the sooner the better."

Nothing unusual about this tale thus far. Some 40 million men and women suffer symptoms indicating plaque-clogged arteries, and when some 380,000 each year get the bad news, they say "So be it" and agree to surgery.

Mr. T., formerly a University of Minnesota professor of public health, rebelled, aware of an option most people with his condition haven't heard of - chelation therapy.

"Thanks, but no thanks," said the savvy Thompson. "I'm going to try chelation first."

"What?" snapped the horrified doctor. "You can't be serious. You're making a huge mistake."

"What do you know about chelation?" the professor asked.

"Nothing - except it's no damn good," the doctor sneered, and walked out.

The Madison Avenue style 'hard-sell' is usually effective with frightened patients not as knowledgeable as Mr. T.. Surgery by intimidation - "get bypassed today or you might be dead tomorrow" - speeds many a reluctant, but vulnerable individual, on his way to the surgical suite.

Others may be more easily persuaded by the 'soft-sell'. A group of Maryland cardiologists distribute a clever two page multi-color booklet entitled Everything You Need to Know About Heart Surgery to surgical candidates. With more than half the contents devoted to full-page cartoons, and the balance to gushy, light-hearted text it is dearly designed to be more disarming than informative.

Despite the propaganda, most people would, if they could, avoid surgery. Not many suspect they have a realistic option. Should one ask, "Is this operation really necessary", cardiac surgeons respond in a way sure to get the patient on the operating table as quickly as possible.

"You have nothing to worry about. It's a common procedure. We've checked the O.R. schedule, and lucky you - we can fit you right in."

That's precisely what the doctors told Michael Keaton, a 'fictional' bypass patient in a slice-of-life 1989 episode of NBC's top-rated sit-com Family Ties. Bypass surgery has become so commonplace, the media plays it for laughs. In the scene cited, Keaton's surgeons tried to allay his fears by speaking of his operation as a 'patient-doctor team effort.' Keaton responded with a sure-fire laugh-getter "Okay. You lie down and I'll do the surgery."

Another bypass patient - this one a retiree - quips: "We expected to travel all over the world - never planned on traveling to the hospital instead." When the man dies on the operating table, the surgeon's black humor. "Transfer him to the ECU - (Eternal Care Unit)."

In another prime-time TV show Doctor, Doctor, two surgeons argue over whether they should have warned a patient who died on the operating table of the risks of bypass surgery.

"What for?" asks the Rambo-like doc. "If he'd lived, he'd be pain free."

The punch line: "I get it. It's our job to take people out of their misery even if it kills 'em.'"

Don't be put off guard by the one-liners. Bypass surgery is no laughing matter.

Back to Top

SCARED OF SURGERY? YOU HAVE GOOD REASON!
When you ask people who have opted for chelation what motivated them to bypass their surgeons, most confess, "I was scared to death to be cut up."

"It's perfectly normal to be a little nervous before any operation," the American Heart Association states in their consumer's pamphlet on bypass surgery.Their advice: "A mild sedative can help you relax."

"Relax? Hell! I didn't want to relax - I wanted to get my butt out of there before I got carved up like a Thanksgiving turkey," was one patient's response.

Are people silly to be scared? Contrary to Franklin Delano RooseveIt's history-making assurance, when it comes to bypass surgery, you have more to fear than fear itself.

Back to Top

A HOSPITAL IS NOT A PLACE TO GET WELL
Besides the obvious dangers, there are many unacknowledged perils that present a legitimate cause for concern. For starters, consider the hazards of hospitalization. In the early days of this century, the famed physician Dr. Henry E. Sigerist called hospitals 'temples' of medicine and good health. There's little doubt he'd be distressed to see how his 'temples' have since been defiled.

More than a third of the nation's hospitals fail to meet standards designed to guard patients against a medical calamity, according to a three-year survey of 5,208 facilities conducted by the joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations that ended in 1988. Among their dismal findings: fifty percent of the facilities did not properly monitor patients in intensive care and coronary care units; thirty-five percent did not supervise blood transfusions properly; fifty-six percent did not properly supervise routine care.

It gets worse. In the most comprehensive study ever conducted in the U.S., Harvard University researchers concluded that negligence kills thousands of people in hospitals each year and injures many more. What goes wrong? Just about everything. The researchers found frequent mechanical failure of technological marvels: defective defibrillators, anesthesia machines, and cardiac monitors, to name but a few. They found untrained and unqualified technicians operating medical equipment.

Added to the above, there's the risk of anesthesia. Surveys conducted at Harvard MedicaI School over a fifteen year period have uncovered a long list of chilling errors that occur during anesthesia. While 'only' 10,000 deaths from anesthesia administration are reported each year, investigators suspect the number could easily be three to four times as high.

Among the common errors are syringe swap (wrong drug inadvertently administered), ampule swap (assistant hands over the wrong substance because many different drugs have like-sounding names), drug overdose, wrong choice of drug, wrong choice of administration technique (all due to judgment error by the anesthetist), disconnection of intravenous lines, breathing circuits and other attachments (equipment failure or unfamiliarity of lack of experience with the technology).

There are other 'bugs' in the hospital system - real ones. Of the roughly 35 million Americans hospitalized annually, two million or more get sicker instead of better, according to the Center for Disease Control data. Hospitals are not as zealous about cleanliness as one might presume. Even operating rooms are often not as sterile as required and personnel frequently put patients in jeopardy. There are no fewer than 100,000 hospital-originated infection-related deaths annually in America and some insiders think that's a super-conservative figure reflecting less than one third of the fatalities. This is what we do know: twenty percent of hospital patients leave with a condition they didn't have when they entered the hospital.

None of the above includes the "freak" accidents: surgeons operating on the 'wrong' organ or on the wrong person. just last year, a 90-year old man burned to death while undergoing ultra violet light therapy in a hospital treament room. "They put him in there and forgot to take him out," witnesses testified at the ensuing malpractice trial.

Something else to take into consideration is this: if you have a choice, don't have surgery in July! A long-standing joke in medical circles turns out to be not so funny, because teaching hospitals routinely bring in new interns and residents during the summer. A study at the VA Medical Center in Denver recently found that surgical procedure complications escalate from twenty percent in June to fifty percent in July.

Back to Top

Finally, there are the morbid details you may not have heard about the risks of the bypass itself.

  • Death occurs in about 5% of heart-bypass surgeries. That is the official National Heart and Lung Institute statistic and is open to question and upward revision. A new study on 3,500 bypass patients, reported in the August 19, 1991 issue of JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) finds death rates vary from 1.9 percent to 9.2 percent. A companion study found death rates ranging as high as 9.9 percent. Depending on who does the surgery - and where - your chance of leaving the operating room alive could be as low as one in five.

  • The older you are, the worse your chances. There's a ten percent higher mortality, on average, for every year over seventy, so octogenarians should be particularly wary of being told they are considered suitable surgical candidates.

  • More to the point deaths from bypass surgery are increasing, a recent study revealed, perhaps because there are more 'repeaters'. Second and third bypass procedures admittedly expose patients to additional risk.

  • Women are 77 percent more likely as men to die as a result of bypass surgery, according to a UCLA School of Medicine study of 2,297 male and female bypass patients. The official explanation is that "The women are sicker than the men when they're operated on." We doubt that's the cause, since statistic-wary surgeons routinely reject patients they fear may be too sick to survive; You could survive the operation, but be all the worse off, nonetheless. Some five to ten percent of bypass patients suffer a heart attack immediately following surgery, according to the New York Heart Association. Two percent suffer a stroke and two percent hemorrhage. Heart tissue damage during surgery is common and usually occurs when the heart suffers oxygen deprivation during the clamping of the aorta. Then when it is resupplied with oxygen-rich blood, the result is a dangerous burst of free radical activity.

  • You could pull through a 'changed person'. Neurological damage is one of the least publicized hazards of bypass surgery. It causes memory loss, reduced mental functioning, and temperament alteration. Preliminary results of an international study show that the procedure produces subtle, long-lasting mental impairment in nearly one in five. Seventeen percent experience persistent mental difficulties. Up to twenty percent of patients suffer from serious depression for a year or longer.

How serious? For how long? Ask TV super-star Joan Rivers, whose husband Edgar, committed suicide post-bypass. "He was never the same after his bypasses," she told Phil Donahue in a recent interview. "Before that, he was always able to snap back from adversity. Nothing ever got him down. No matter what went wrong, he was ready to do battle - and then one day in Philadelphia he forgot everything he stood for. Just like that." Family members puzzled - or alarmed - when the bypass survivor is uncharacteristically rude, hostile, insensitive or non-communicative, usually blame the undesirable change on the individual's reaction to a traumatic near-death experience. In reality, however, their loved one may be exhibiting the results of oxygen deprivation to the brain during the surgical procedure.

Dr. Thorkel Aberg, a leading heart surgeon at Umea University Hospital in Umea, Sweden, who is taking part in the new studies, says, "I have no doubt there is subtle brain cell damage during these operations."

When Dr. Maurice Albin, professor of anesthesiology at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in San Antonio studied post-bypass brain pictures taken by the Trans-Cranial Doppler device, he discovered trapped debris in the brain's blood vessels, meaning a mini-stroke resulting in minor personality changes is a likely aftermath of the surgery.

So much for the risks - how about the benefits?

Back to Top

BYPASS SURGERY - MEDICAL MARVEL OR MEDICAL MALPRACTICE?
According to the American Heart Association, coronary artery bypass surgery is a "common procedure for restoring health and vigor to people suffering from coronary artery disease." There's no argument that it's 'common'. Each year, Americans spend one out of every ten dollars on health care, and treatment of heart disease represents a large chunk of that money. In a typical year, we annually spend $8-$12 billion on some 250,000 coronary bypass operations at a cost of $25,000 to $40,000 each.

What do we get for our money? Not much in the way of the 'health and vigor' promised. Most of the fine results claimed for bypass surgery come from the typewriters of ad agency hacks and not from the halls of science. While the bypass is one of the most widely touted of modern medicine's pricey procedures, a careful look at results reveals it doesn't help the vast majority of those who undergo it.

One of the nation's leading cardiologists, Dr. Thomas A. Preston, professor of medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle, has criticized the operation in very harsh terms. "It's a particularly dramatic and expensive surgery, and scandalously overused."

If you think - or been led to believe - bypass surgery is going to cure your disease, think again. Let's look at survival stats. If a surgical procedure is worthwhile, people who have it ought to live longer. The research does not support this thesis.

Controlled tests beginning with a 1977 Veterans Administration study and capped off with a 1983 published National Institutes of Health survey showed bypass surgery was no better at prolonging life than treatment with prevailing drugs. After spending $24 million to study the subject, government researchers concluded that bypass patients not only did not live longer - they didn't live any better. The nonsurgically treated were just as well off when it came to retaining their jobs, remaining productive and enjoying leisure time activities.

Does the operation prevent future heart attack? Not according to Dr. Preston and others who report: there are NO studies to date that have shown this operation prevents infarction. When it comes to arrhythmia, even the pro-bypass rooting squad admits there is no possibility surgery will prevent arrhythmias. Scads of research reports exhibit little or no beneficial improvement of heart muscle functioning after bypass surgery.

What about symptom relief? As Dr. Preston and others have pointed out, any procedure that reduces anxiety will produce symptomatic improvement. If the patient is convinced the therapy is 'good', he'll report feeling better.

"Think of the patient who's been told: 'You're a living time bomb'. Then we operate on him and two months later, we tell him 'you're cured' and put him on a treadmill to test his improvement. And does he go to it! He reports 'I'm much better'.

"To what can we attribute his progress? Clearly there's an emotional factor involved. He's been told he's better, he has a vested interest in his operation paying off, and he reports tremendous results as expected. Interestingly enough, there's a study that shows people normally do better on second treadmill tests, even with no intervening therapy or treatment, simply because they are more comfortable with the procedure. They know they won't fall off, drop dead, whatever, etc.. "There's a powerful psychological component to this that cannot be lightly dismissed."

An article in Internal Medicine News points out that for many patients, symptom relief is distressingly short-term. Thirty to fifty percent of those who undergo surgery have a recurrence of symptoms within the first year. Even those patients who remain asymptomatic after one year, report a return of angina at a three to five percent rate in subsequent years. Usually the new symptoms are due to a progression of the underlying disease.

The analysis does not surprise Robert J. Hall, clinical professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, who has commented: "Bypass surgery is not curing the disease. It is 'modifying it with a piece of pipe.'"

Not only is the disease not cured, it almost inevitably returns - only quicker than before. One bypass procedure almost inevitably leads to the need for another, as Dr. Norman Ratlif at the Cleveland Clinic has reported. While coronary artery blockage normally takes about forty years, the grafts implanted during bypass surgery suffer accelerated plaque build-up and usually block again within five to ten years.

What does bypass do best? It bypasses the real problem. It's a patchwork solution to a degenerative disease that effects the entire arterial system, not just one or two replaceable main vessels.

Back to Top

'BYPASS' ON THE DECLINE?
There are signs the bypass procedure is on the wane at long last The American public is becoming more sophisticated, more learned, more inclined to think for themselves, less disposed to be 'bypassed' merely because 'the doctor says so.' People are catching on to the profits and politics of the heart disease industry. Articles such as appeared in Business Week, hailing Dr. Denton Cooley's new supermarket assembly-line approach to bypass surgery - he's doing six to eight surgeries a day at cut-rate prices to recover from personal bankruptcy have turned the naive into cynics.

In addition, there's been so much unfavorable publicity about bypass surgery - the darling of the American cardiology business for more than two decades - that even the most trusting individuals suspect that much of the surgery that's prescribed is designed to benefit the surgeon's end-of-the-year balance sheet.

The suspicious are right on target. As the $3 million, five year Rand Corporation study showed, coronary bypass surgery, carotid endarterectomy (the removal of blockages from one or both arteries carrying blood to the brain), and angiography (the pre-surgical x-ray technique to detect blocked arteries) are "significantly overused procedures."

The study's findings: 65% of carotid endarterectomies were done for inappropriate or questionable reasons; 17% of the angiogram were clearly inappropriate; as were an alarming percentage of the bypass procedures. When California researchers looked into this same issue, they found nearly half of the patients who had heart bypass operations in three hospitals either should not have had the procedures or could have done as well without them. Only 56 percent of the coronary bypass operations performed in three randomly chosen hospitals were justified. Thirty percent were done for equivocal reasons - meaning they could be argued either way. No wonder many more people are asking questions, getting second and third opinions, seeking alternatives.

Although bypass surgery is still a $6 billion a year industry, and the latest figures show increasing numbers of procedures every year from 1979 on, alternative therapies are becoming more popular, especially in the last five years. That's turning out to be a mixed bag. Knife-happy specialists don't give up a procedure until they've latched on to a profitable substitute. As might be expected, dramatic new high-tech procedure have been introduced. Many of these are equally unproven ineffective, profit-motivated and risky as the bypass they replaced. Most are enthusiastically prescribed by the very same physicians who only a short time ago heartily advocated the discredited bypass.

What good is it that more people turn thumbs down to bypass, when they're not offered a more promising substitute? Let's take a look at what happened to Bill Thompson, the heart patient we met at the start of this chapter.

Instead of submitting to surgery, Thompson signed on with a doctor who treats conditions like his with a non-invasive outpatient procedure consisting of a series of intravenous infusions of a synthetic amino acid ethylene diamine-tetra acetic acid. This man-made protein is popularly called EDTA.

After three months - approximately thirty sessions - Bill's blood pressure read 120/68. Non-invasive testing revealed arterial blockage had been dramatically reduced, heart function was fifty percent better, and Doppler readings showed impressive improvement in circulation throughout his body, especially to his extremities - fingers and toes. His disability rating was reduced to 5%.

More gratifying still, Bill felt more like his pre-diseased self. He could walk the golf course - and carry his bags - instead of needing a golf cart and caddy; he didn't run out of energy at noon; he could out-walk, out-talk and out-distance others his age without breathing hard.

Every day chelation doctors discharge many Bill Thompson treatment-twins - all feel-alikes when it comes to proving there's a real alternative to bypass and other unnecessarily aggressive procedures. Once you meet someone who's been chelated, you're bound to ask, "How come I never heard about this before?"

We'll save that story for the next chapter.

Back to Top



Want to read more?
Here's an idea of what you'll find in the rest of the book.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION: NOT ANOTHER BOOK ON CHELATION!


1: "GOODBYE" BYPASS -"HELLO" CHELATION

2: BUT YOU CAN'T FOOL ALL OF THE PEOPLE ALL OF THE TIME

3: BAD NEWS TRAVELS FAST, GOOD NEWS TRAVELS SLOW

4: BACK IN CIRCULATION.

5: UNCLOGGING THE ARTERIES - AN ONGOING STRUGGGLE

6: HEART DRUGS: THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE UGLY

7: WHAT'S NEW ABOUT EDTA CHELATION? NOTHING! THAT'S REALLY BIG NEWS

8: FREE RADICAL DAMAGE CALLS FOR RADICAL REMEDIES

9: THE EDTA/HEART SAVER CONNECTION

10: WHAT ELSE DOES CHELATION 'CURE'? DON'T ASK: IT'S A SECRET

11: EVERYTHING ENQUIRING MINDS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CHELATION

12: MORE QUESTIONS - MORE ANSWERS

13: DUCK! HERE COME THE 'QUACKS'

14: THE POST-CHELATION LIFESTYLE

15: EXERCISING YOUR RIGHT TO GOOD HEALTH.

16: CLEANING UP YOUR ACT

17: FIGHTlNG THE FREE RADICAL FOE - POWER UP WITH VITAMINS

18: EATING TO YOUR HEART'S CONTENT

19: THE WORLD'S OLDEST AND HEALTHIEST DIET.

20: RECIPES FOR HEALTHY PLEASURES

21: FORTY-SOMETHING FOREVER: A LONGEVITY PRIMER

 

BACK TO TOP

More Information

How to Order

Scared Of Surgery?

Hospital Is Not A Place To Get Well

Bypass Surgery - Medical Marvel

'Bypass' On The Decline?

Table Of Contents

 

DISCLAIMER
Information and statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. Products offered are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Dietary supplements are intended solely for nutritional support and individual results may vary.
 Home  :  Healthy Books  :  For A Healthy Heart  :  MedSearch  :  Heart News Update  :  Contact Us

 

                                   Copyright 2002 HealthSavers.info. All Rights Reserved.