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
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
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
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
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
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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.
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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.
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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
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
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?
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- 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
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
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
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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
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.
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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
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
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