One of the best pieces of advise I was given when I was doing my residency was how to decide if a procedure or test was warranted. If I do this procedure, will the patient live longer or better? If yes is the answer to both, then proceed. If doing the test does not result in a longer life, it should at least add to the quality of life left. There are people that choose life over quality and they get to make that choice, but they still deserve to know the answer to both of the questions. We are taught that patients have autonomy in their medical decisions, but we all know that the decisions are only as good as the information presented. In other words, the decision is made on the information given, and the trust one has for the person giving the information.
600,000 plus people die each year from cardiovascular disease. Close to a million stents are deployed in patients arteries each year. Close to 200,000 coronary bypass procedures are done each year. Patients without symptoms of unstable angina, critical left main stenosis, or heart failure have no long term survival benefit from those procedures. Quality of life in asymptomatic patients cannot be improved with the procedures. If you don’t feel bad, it is hard to feel better. Therefore, many of the procedures are done because there “might be” a problem if they are not done. The risks of the procedures include a stroke, heart attack, death, vascular trauma, kidney failure, arrhythmias, pneumonia, and a shortened lifespan. Medications do not reverse cardiovascular disease. Most cardiovascular medications do have potential side effects.
So how do you decide if this test or procedure is the right route for you to go? How did you get to this decision point in the first place? Do you have chest pain or angina, are you experiencing a sudden decline in energy, have you had congestive heart failure or an acute myocardial infarction? If you answered yes, then perhaps further testing is warranted. Do you have a condition that makes the testing more dangerous? Are there risks of the tests? Perhaps most importantly, what will you do with the results of the tests? If nothing, then you should not do the tests. You deserve to get your questions answered to your satifaction. Another set of ears is also not a bad idea. (Bring a trusted person with you to the appointment.)
Are there other options to the tests or procedures? Does waiting hurt? What about nutrition? Thanks to people like Dr Caldwell Esselystn and Dr. Dean Ornish, there are viable options with minimal risks. They have demonstrated with stress testing and cardiac catheterization, reversal of cardiovascular disease through plant based nutrition. Is it quick? Yes, symptoms get better in a few weeks. Are there side effects? You may loose weight, have more energy, and less infections. Can you get better then go back to your old ways? Of course you can, and your disease progression will resume at the rate it was previously going. The invasive tests and procedures will always be there waiting should you decide delicious, colorful, nutritious food is not for you. Can you just change a little, like during the week and keep weekends for steak and cigars? Yes, and you will get a little bit better during the week and most likely a lot worse on the weekends. Will your quality of life be better with plant strong vegan nutrition? Yes because not only will your cardiovascular disease improve, but your joint pain, cancer risk, and diabetes risk will also improve.
Most of us can avoid or reverse cardiovascular disease through plant strong vegan nutrition. There are no adverse risks. It should be in the conversation when ANY other test or procedure comes up for discussion. It is a viable alternative with many added benefits. It has made my family’s lives better, and we would love to make your life better and longer. Ask the question: will this make me live better or longer? My wish for you is a long and healthy life.