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Fighting the Number-One Killer In the US With Data

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the checking-the-chart dept.

Medicine 121

mattydread23 writes "Often, the signs of eventual heart failure are there, but they consist of a lot of weak signals over a long period of time, and doctors are not trained to look for these patterns. IBM and a couple heathcare providers, Sutter Health and Geisinger Health System, just got a $2 million grant from NIH to figure out how better data analysis can help prevent heart attack. But the trick is that doctors will have to use electronic records — it also means a lot more tests. Andy Patrizio writes, 'What this means is doctors are going to have to expand the tests they do and the amount of data they keep. Otherwise, the data isn't so Big.'"

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If we can just submit the people for processing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45113927)

We can save your life citizen... if you just give us all your data and submit to daily analysis and processing.

Also we will protect you from what you eat and drink... unless we're paid more to forget that.

Great use of govt money! (3, Interesting)

kqs (1038910) | about a year ago | (#45113957)

This is the perfect use of government money: projects which are promising (though they may not pan out in the end), which will help many people, and which will not be subsidized by industry because they will not make money in the next three quarters. I don't expect any real results from this study for many years, but I think it's a very important study to do.

Re:Great use of govt money! (0, Troll)

mfwitten (1906728) | about a year ago | (#45114023)

I don't expect any real results from this study for many years, but I think it's a very important study to do.

Great. Then you pay for it. I don't share your enthusiasm, so why should I have to share your bill?

Re:Great use of govt money! (4, Insightful)

Albanach (527650) | about a year ago | (#45114151)

Great. Then you pay for it. I don't share your enthusiasm, so why should I have to share your bill?

Because every day you benefit from projects that were funded using taxpayer dollars/pounds/euros on the basis of long-term aspirations. The massive investment in road networks, rail networks and telecommunications were all taxpayer funded or subsidized. The technology spin-offs from the space program are benefits that again may never have seen the light of day without aspirational projects.

You benefit from those who walked before you. In return in makes sense to pave the way for those who will walk after you.

Re:Great use of govt money! (1)

mfwitten (1906728) | about a year ago | (#45114303)

I see no evidence that it's best to develop, say, profitable satellite technology (GPS, communications, etc.) via the gimmicky aspiration to stick an American flag on the moon; rather, it seems that it would be far superior to aspire to such gimmicks via first developing such profitable technology.

Re:Great use of govt money! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45114583)

GPS isn't really profitable without government backing. One company putting up enough satellites to provide 3-4 line of site anywhere on the planet isn't going to happen. It was tried. But, 10 companies sharing one system is profitable. And thus, things like infrastructure are born and governments rise to create them. Defense and war developed as human traits long before governments. It would stand to reason that war is not dependant on government. However, government rose alongside agriculture which created a greater need for group efforts to maintain infrastructure and led to what we now call civilization. It would seem government is a necessary creation to build infrastructure. Sure, some do it better than others. Some systems work better than others. But in the end, there's no evidence that infrastructure was ever created and maintained privately beyond what's needed by the individual who created it.

I don't understand the current thought of small government. How about properly working government. What does small even mean to a country the size of the United States. Do people think if the government only spent $1 trillion a year it would somehow fix the problems that it has? The U.S. government is going to be large by any standard. Why don't we work on what we want to accomplish rather than make political talking points about projects that cost the average taxpayer a penny a year?

Re:Great use of govt money! (4, Insightful)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | about a year ago | (#45114165)

Because you can say that for every government thing, fire departments, police departments, military defense. These all benefit everyone in a society, so there's no easy way to prevent you from benefiting. This is related to what economists call a "public good." And the only way to make sure public goods get funded is for everyone to pay a tiny amount. If you don't think something is a public good that justifies such a situation, then you should talk to your congressmen. Of course, if you think that you shouldn't pay for any of them, then that's your problem.

Re:Great use of govt money! (0)

mfwitten (1906728) | about a year ago | (#45114259)

Because you can say that for every government thing, fire departments, police departments, military defense.

Maybe you ought to think about that.

Re:Great use of govt money! (1)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | about a year ago | (#45114297)

If you don't like living a government at all, then go be an anarchist elsewhere. Living in a country where we have these things is what makes this a functional civilization and not chaos. As long as you are here, please pay your share. If you'd like to opt-out go to Somalia.

Re:Great use of govt money! (3, Interesting)

mfwitten (1906728) | about a year ago | (#45114407)

Somalia is the result of a failed state, what was formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic, which was governed under a single-party, Socialist rule. The resulting mayhem has nothing to do with libertarian or anarchist principles, particularly the Non-Aggresion Principle.

In any case, what actually gives you a functional civilization is a large number of individuals trading voluntarily amongst themselves to better their own situations; profit is not merely the transfer of wealth, but rather the creation of wealth.

How much is "my share", anway? Only the price mechanism of a free market can figure that out consistently, adapting to the reality at hand rather than the fantasies of a "noble" bureaucrat.

So, what is "Government", anyway? Any organization—any organization at all—that confiscates resources by threat of strike-first violence is a "governmental" organization. When one such organization becomes a monopoly, we call that organization "Government".

Government is simply a bad company that doesn't go out of business because it is able to confiscate your resources by threat of violence; it doesn't give you the goods and services for which you personally think you are paying, but you have to pay them anyway—it's totally absurd and unconscionable.

It is not a modern value to coerce resources from people by threat of violence. So, in fact, governments are actually the last barbaric vestige of a pre-modern civilization.

Re:Great use of govt money! (1)

similar_name (1164087) | about a year ago | (#45114605)

But what is the alternative? If government is just the biggest bully, what do you replace it with? There is a long line of people willing to take it's place and take your stuff. I'm genuinely curious because I've seen this brought up before. It's easy to say government has problems, it's not so easy to replace it with something else.

Re:Great use of govt money! (1)

demonlapin (527802) | about a year ago | (#45114799)

Replace it with the one we had fifty years ago - AFAICT the perfect moment is right after the Civil Rights Acts and just before the godawful mess that was the Great Society. Government doesn't have to be a leviathan that spies on everyone, gives small town police military equipment for them to conduct no-knock raids, and imprisons millions of people because they like to get high on the wrong thing.

Government should look like a pyramid - the biggest taxes and expenditures should be local, then state, and then federal. The feds are there to coordinate things, not to micromanage everyone. I'd much rather pay a lot more in local taxes and a lot less in federal - I can go complain at a city council meeting every week if I think something is wrong. Can't do that with Congress or the federal bureaucracy.

Re:Great use of govt money! (1)

similar_name (1164087) | about a year ago | (#45114837)

I'm fine with debating what government should look like. I was asking the OP what is the alternative to government as the way I understand him, he is saying government is bad and should be done away with.

Re:Great use of govt money! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45114639)

Somalia is the result of a failed state, what was formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic, which was governed under a single-party, Socialist rule. The resulting mayhem has nothing to do with libertarian or anarchist principles, particularly the Non-Aggresion Principle.

In any case, what actually gives you a functional civilization is a large number of individuals trading voluntarily amongst themselves to better their own situations; profit is not merely the transfer of wealth, but rather the creation of wealth.

How much is "my share", anway? Only the price mechanism of a free market can figure that out consistently, adapting to the reality at hand rather than the fantasies of a "noble" bureaucrat.

So, what is "Government", anyway? Any organization—any organization at all—that confiscates resources by threat of strike-first violence is a "governmental" organization. When one such organization becomes a monopoly, we call that organization "Government".

Government is simply a bad company that doesn't go out of business because it is able to confiscate your resources by threat of violence; it doesn't give you the goods and services for which you personally think you are paying, but you have to pay them anyway—it's totally absurd and unconscionable.

It is not a modern value to coerce resources from people by threat of violence. So, in fact, governments are actually the last barbaric vestige of a pre-modern civilization.

How ridiculous.Not only is this attitude incredibly selfish (since it reveals a complete lack of interest in other people's welfare), it is virtually impossible to defend economically. Look how badly this minimal-government lark works in practice. Look at how much poverty there is in America, because so many American's are almost dogmatically obsessed with the idea of a small government, and the "freedom" to not fork out for one another's needs. Collective goodwill, expressed tangibly through fair taxation is a necessary part of any civil society.

Obviously an enormous, sprawling and inefficient government is undesirable, but to suggest that there shouldn't be ANY government is simply stupid. Go and live on the streets - actually don't do that, they were paid for by taxes. Go and live in the sea.

Re:Great use of govt money! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45115163)

Well, you don't get a choice in the matter in any civilized* country, libertarian. So Somalia's you only choice; go and make your own country.

*By my standards, presumably not yours

Re:Great use of govt money! (1)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | about a year ago | (#45116481)

Somalia is the result of a failed state, what was formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic, which was governed under a single-party, Socialist rule. The resulting mayhem has nothing to do with libertarian or anarchist principles,

What does it even mean to talk about a "failed state" if you don't even want state actors with police power?

In any case, what actually gives you a functional civilization is a large number of individuals trading voluntarily amongst themselves to better their own situations; profit is not merely the transfer of wealth, but rather the creation of wealth.

Which utterly ignores the basic issues of public goods and externalities that have already been brought up. Yes, markets and trade is important. But we have theorems and empirical data about when markets work and when they don't. High transaction costs with large externalities (either positive or negative) or with public goods aren't those circumstances. There's no way to do large-scale medical research in a way that doesn't benefit everyone. This is stuff you'd learn if you took an actual intro econ class at any university.

Re:Great use of govt money! (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#45116959)

Yes, Somalia is the result of a government going away and being replaced by whoever comes along. Surely the Anarchists and Libertarians of the world could re-model Somalia to suit them. It's not like there's a government there now to object. It's also not like the kind of people making Somalia into a hellhole wouldn't eventually show up to trouble a Libertarian or Anarchist state.

Meanwhile, in places where governments aren't as strong, corporations most certainly hire violent goons to coerce people. They would do it everywhere but they can't because governments won't let them.

Re:Great use of govt money! (1)

mfwitten (1906728) | about a year ago | (#45117133)

corporations most certainly hire violent goons to coerce people

Then those corporations are are governmental organizations; that is, you're saying that at worst , you end up with government.

Somalia is the result of a government going away and being replaced by... the kind of people making Somalia into a hellhole

Actually, in areas of civilization where governmental organizations (including warlords) have not been terribly imposing, Somalia has shown massive improvement even compared to the surrounding countries that have relatively stable governments; the collapse of an unworkable, savage organization like the "government" of Somalia was probably the best thing ever to happen to Somalians despite the statist culture that has persisted through the calamity.

Re:Great use of govt money! (2)

demonlapin (527802) | about a year ago | (#45114695)

Ah yes, the old fire and police argument. Guess who runs those? Hint: unless you live on a military base or in DC, it's not the federal government.

This is a terrible idea. Allow me to explain how this will actually work in practice. Doctors will be given a massive set of questions to ask (but they won't be paid more for the extra time it takes to ask them), they will be given a new set of tests to run (wasn't the point of this to cut healthcare costs?), and they'll have to switch to fully electronic medical records of the sort that don't really exist today - the kind where every diagnosis a patient has is properly coded in ICD-10, along with initial diagnosis dates, therapeutic intervention, and outcome, as well as compliance data. Surprise! - people diagnosed with early heart failure are usually prescribed diuretics, which they then don't take because diuretics then make you have to pee all the time. And they lie to their doctors about it. (Don't lie to your doctor. If you don't want to answer, fine. Just say so. If you don't want to take a pill, just say so. But it's impossible to help you if we don't know the truth.)

Furthermore, TFA elides so much as to be meaningless: heart failure is a symptom, not a disease. It's caused by some process killing the heart. Usually, that's coronary disease, which will precipitate the heart failure by causing a big heart attack. Finding heart failure from other causes earlier is of questionable benefit - as with cancer, there is legitimate question as to whether early detection really prolongs life or just means that you spot the thing that will kill you earlier without changing the course of the disease.

So: big mandate imposing significant costs on front-line personnel, vast quantities of data in the hands of the feds, and standardized EMR's that can be data mined. Sounds like the perfect government project.

Physician heal thyself (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45116257)

ADon't lie to your doctor. If you don't want to answer, fine. Just say so. If you don't want to take a pill, just say so. But it's impossible to help you if we don't know the truth.)

If you don't want patients to lie to you, then you should start by not lying on our charts. If we say we don't want to answer the question of whether we smoke, don't write down the lie "patient smokes." If we say we have a glass of wine on Friday nights, don't write down the lie "patient is a moderate drinker."

You assholes have decided that every patient lies (under reports healthy behaviors and over exaggerates pain) to you that you've left those of us who were telling the truth no choice but to lie so that you don't slander us.

After you stop lying on our charts you could try not lying to our health insurance about diagnoses like "pre diabetic" that label us with made up pre existing conditions just to give you an excuse to get our health insurance companies to reimburse you for visits and pills.

Re:Great use of govt money! (1)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | about a year ago | (#45116455)

Ah yes, the old fire and police argument. Guess who runs those? Hint: unless you live on a military base or in DC, it's not the federal government.

The response about police, and fire was in regards to mfwitten's essentially anarchist claim, not a general defense of a federal government (different government systems work). But you'll note that my comment listed three things, police, fire and military. Moreover, the federal government is heavily involved in police activities: the FBI is one of many examples that functions doing what amounts to police work. Whether the specific matter discussed by TFA is a good idea or not is a *distinct* issue which could be discussed and an actual discussion of that might be interesting, but it has nothing to do with mfwitten's points or my own.

Re:Great use of govt money! (1)

thatbloke83 (1529851) | about a year ago | (#45114393)

I don't expect any real results from this study for many years, but I think it's a very important study to do.

Great. Then you pay for it. I don't share your enthusiasm, so why should I have to share your bill?

See now I, and a lot of the rest of the so-called "First World" completely fail to comprehend this attitude from Americans. I find it laughable to be quite frank. Why the hell do you not want to look after your fellow people?

Re:Great use of govt money! (1)

mfwitten (1906728) | about a year ago | (#45114491)

Why are you putting words in my mouth?

I do want to look after my fellow people; however, I don't necessarily agree that your ideas for doing so are the best ideas, let alone good ideas at all. Why should I be forced to pay for your ideas? I'm not your slave.

Re:Great use of govt money! (1)

duke_cheetah2003 (862933) | about a year ago | (#45114875)

Hey I'm sure lots of ideas YOU HAVE that I think stink are getting money, too. We don't always get what we want. But we all chip in a little so everyone's ideas get a fair shake. Sorry you don't like it. You could always leave.

Re: Great use of govt money! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45114967)

Then don't. None of your tax dollars will be used for this project. Or any other project you don't want. Instead, your tax dollars will only go to projects you do want. Conversely, no taxpayer against one of your projects will help pay for it.

This doesn't change how much you pay of course. It's just bookkeeping to assuage those concerned. To be sure, if you could eliminate everything you don't like, while keeping everything you do, and simultaneously force everyone else to subsidize your programs, then your taxes certainly would be less. But that's forcing others to pay for projects they dislike, and that's just as morally wrong as asking you to pay for thus project.

Re:Great use of govt money! (1)

Kyusaku Natsume (1098) | about a year ago | (#45116223)

Conservative and libertarian americans are really desperate to hand over world's leadership to China. I'm from Mexico,you would be tempted to guess that americans would want to know why my country is almost a failed state and South Korea that was a very similar country to Mexico 30 years ago -development wise- no. We have implemented many of those "small government" ideas, and now we have to bury our neighboors and double check if the trash bag on the street is really a trash bag or it is filled with a mutilated corpse. And they wonder why people risk their lives in the desert triying to slip in the USA:

Re:Great use of govt money! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45114505)

I agree! Not only that, the number one killer is accidents. Typical /. all wrong all the time.

Re:Great use of govt money! (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about a year ago | (#45116637)

I agree! Not only that, the number one killer is accidents. Typical /. all wrong all the time.

Not even remotely close [cdc.gov] . Typical AC. Just typing "causes of death in us" in google would've got this answer in the number one slot.

Re:Great use of govt money! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45116179)

You're free to leave the USA for Somalia if you don't like it.

Re:Great use of govt money! (2)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about a year ago | (#45116599)

I don't expect any real results from this study for many years, but I think it's a very important study to do.

Great. Then you pay for it. I don't share your enthusiasm, so why should I have to share your bill?

Cool. I pay for my share of the heart disease thing -- that killed a thousand or two people on 9/11, and every other day before and after that -- and you get "terrorism". Deal?

Re:Great use of govt money! (4, Interesting)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#45114075)

It's also the perfect segue into Total Informational Awareness. It's basically data mining. You find a couple of soft indicators - the patient starts complaining of shortness of breath perhaps, has hypertension, is overweight. Then he moves. Starts over again. Doc asks the same question, patient puts down different dates (because they don't remember the doc visit five years ago), rinse lather repeat. If you could track this sort of stuff over time the 'computer' could start making some pretty easy correlations.

IF you had the data. And only IF you had the data. Which means linked EHRs. Which is an interesting concept and would likely help, except, given the current state of our Panopticon Plus government, you have to wonder exactly who they are trying to help.

Comrade.

Oh, AND IT'S HEART FAILURE NOT HEART ATTACK. THEY'RE DIFFERENT. If you're the editor at least glance at TFA. /pedant /normal blood pressure mode

Re:Great use of govt money! (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about a year ago | (#45114547)

This is the perfect use of government money: projects which are promising (though they may not pan out in the end), which will help many people, and which will not be subsidized by industry because they will not make money in the next three quarters.

I know that "companies can't see past the next quarter" is a popular notion, but it does not apply to all industries.

Big Pharma & medical device companies spend plenty of money on R&D that has no guarantee of paying off.

Re:Great use of govt money! (1)

BlackPignouf (1017012) | about a year ago | (#45114597)

Perfect use of government money would be to help people eat healthier food and exercise regularly.
Subsidize local fruits and vegetables, offer cheap yoga lessons across the country, and you'll soon won't have to monitor as many hearts.

Re:Great use of govt money! (1)

M. Baranczak (726671) | about a year ago | (#45115583)

No, perfect would be if they did both. Promoting healthy living would lower the incidence of heart disease, but a lot of people would still get it.

Re:Great use of govt money! (1)

jerdenn (86993) | about a year ago | (#45114745)

This is the perfect use of government money: projects which are promising (though they may not pan out in the end), which will help many people, and which will not be subsidized by industry because they will not make money in the next three quarters. I don't expect any real results from this study for many years, but I think it's a very important study to do.

While I agree with your premise that this is the perfect example of why we would want government to fund specific types of R & D, I'd argue that private industry is terribly interested in analytics and the ability to provide enhanced clinical decision support and measure previously unknown positive outcomes based on specific treatment protocols or inputs.

HIT companies have saturated the existing EHR market - competitive advantage will come from the ability to derive value from existing data.

Waste of money (3, Interesting)

katz (36161) | about a year ago | (#45113975)

If you want to prevent heart disease, stop eating saturted fat and cholesterol and stick with a low-fat whole-plant-based diet. This knowledge is not new; this stuff has been known for almost a hundred years now, yet we're still spending money dancing around the fact that eating animals and their byproducts leads to heart disease.

Source: http://www.plantpositive.com/ [plantpositive.com]

Re:Waste of money (1)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | about a year ago | (#45114001)

This knowledge is not new; this stuff has been known for almost a hundred years now, yet we're still spending money dancing around the fact that eating animals and their byproducts leads to heart disease.

It's not a fact, it's just you folks wishing things were like that.

Re:Waste of money (5, Interesting)

rubycodez (864176) | about a year ago | (#45114045)

Utter rubbish. The French eat meat and have a high fat diet, but have a very low incidence of heart problems

Your link is to a fad-diet site.

Re:Waste of money (3, Informative)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about a year ago | (#45114747)

Utter rubbish. The French eat meat and have a high fat diet, but have a very low incidence of heart problems

Your link is to a fad-diet site.

I think they consume far less sugar and soda and more fiber, which may explain things. You might find these two (long) talks interesting. The first is research/study based, the second is more anecdotal, but with some research. I thought they were both excellent and interesting.

  • Sugar: The Bitter Truth [youtube.com] (1h30m) by Dr. Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology, explores the damage caused by sugary foods. He argues that fructose (too much) and fiber (not enough) appear to be cornerstones of the obesity epidemic through their effects on insulin. Series: UCSF Mini Medical School for the Public.
  • How Bad Science and Big Business Created the Obesity Epidemic [youtube.com] (1h) by David Diamond, Ph.D., of the University of South Florida College of Arts and Sciences shares his personal story about his battle with obesity. Diamond shows how he lost weight and reduced his triglycerides by eating red meat, eggs and butter.

Re:Waste of money (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about a year ago | (#45116493)

They probably consume much less soda pop (and not high fructose corn syrup in lieu of cane sugar), but french use love sugar in their baked goods. they also drink a lot of wine. maybe the wine explains something

Re:Waste of money (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#45116763)

Some of you younger punks who didn't live through the beginnings of the anti-fat craze in the late '70s and early '80s wouldn't have seen things like Entenmens release strudels and whatnot which were "fat free". They took out the fat and added extra amounts of sugar, essentially crystalizing it, making it palatable.

I am positive the anti-salt craze has contributed, not in the way people think, but in making food less tasty, and thus people eat more of it. More of what? Carbo foods.

200 of the 500 calories in a Big Mac is bun. Plus fries. Or McNuggets, it's all breading. Try it sometime at a restaurant -- see how much of your diet is freaking carbs, bun, pasta, bread basket, mmmmmm Olive Garden, unlimited bread sticks, pasta bread pasta bread dough bread dough bread.

It's the calories, it always comes back to the calories, which means loaves of bread per person per meal, chugged hand-over-fist.

No, it isn't. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45114079)

If you want to prevent heart disease, stop eating saturted fat and cholesterol and stick with a low-fat whole-plant-based diet.

That helps to reduce the risk, not prevent heart disease. That's something that makes me cringe - this idea that diet is a panacea for one's ills. Lately, the vegans (Engine Co. 2 for example) have been proselytizing their way of life and selling it by over stating the health benefits. When I see folks who claim that their cancer was cured by switching to a vegan diet, I just think of all the other reasons why they were "cured" - the cancer going away when she switched to a vegan diet was most likely just a coincidence.

This reminds me of a patient of my wife's. He was a cardiologist, avid marathon runner, ate impeccably, and ended up with a heart attack at 42. When my wife asked him what he was doing there (in the hospital), he responded, "Tell me about it!". He also had familial history of heart disease.

Genetics also have a lot to do with it, too.

Yes, eating more plants and less animals (even fish) is better for our health, our ecosystem, and our wallets, but let's not over state the benefits, please. The research is still in its infancy - and there have been some compelling things - but never the less, the benefits have been overstated. But that does NOT mean to say, "Fuck it! I'm eat'in steak and potatoes because it doesn't matter!". Let's not go apeshit the other way either.

Re:No, it isn't. (2)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#45114177)

If you want to prevent heart disease, stop eating saturted fat and cholesterol and stick with a low-fat whole-plant-based diet.

That helps to reduce the risk, not prevent heart disease. That's something that makes me cringe - this idea that diet is a panacea for one's ills. ...

Genetics also have a lot to do with it, too.

Yes, eating more plants and less animals (even fish) is better for our health, our ecosystem, and our wallets, but let's not over state the benefits, please.

Not your wallet. Check out the prices in the produce aisle some time. Meat is often a cheaper source of your necessary nutrients than vegetables.

When we talk about vegetarian diets reducing your heart disease risk, it's frankly irresponsible to not provide information about how much it reduces the risk. There is an answer: 32%. http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2013/02/04/vegetarians-have-lower-heart-disease-risk-study-finds/ [go.com] That's significant enought to take into account, and not even close to enough to think you've done everything you can to reduce your risk if you are a vegetarian.

Also, there is little if any evidence that vegetarianism is any more healthy than eating meat a few times a week and mostly avoiding red meat. Researchers aren't sure whether meat is harming people or they are simply missing important plant nutrients.

Yes, your wallet too. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45114323)

If you only eat meat once or even twice a week (what some dieticians recommend), you will save money on your food bill. I know because I have done it. And I saved even more (and got a new hobby) by having a garden - even in Winter: kale, chard, arugula, and some other Winter veggies.

it's frankly irresponsible to not provide information about how much it reduces the risk.

Irresponsible? Why? Because that one study says so? Done in England with more than likely with a homogenous racial group (or made up of mostly one race).

Let's see that study reproduced among different populations and lifestyles. It may be a larger percentage or even a smaller one.

Re:No, it isn't. (1)

demonlapin (527802) | about a year ago | (#45114703)

Vegetarians are a self-selected group concerned about their health. The study that should be done is to take a bunch of vegetarians and start requiring half of them to eat meat five times a week and compare them to the others that remain strictly vegetarian.

Re:No, it isn't. (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#45116591)

As a generalization, there's some truth to this, but it's not as clear cut as all that. Some vegetarians are so because they have personal qualms about eating animals or eat a vegetarian diet because of their religion. Those are the best vegetarians to study. They are not as prone to nutrition fads that encourage them to eat or drink 20x normal amounts of specific foods (e.g. http://www.drugstore.com/natures-answer-sambucus-black-elder-berry-extract-super-concentrated/qxp290049 [drugstore.com] ).

The subsidized food pyramid (2)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about a year ago | (#45116137)

"Meat is often a cheaper source of your necessary nutrients than vegetables."

Ignoring how meat does not have essential phytonutrients in it (as you mention), consider the political reason of why that is the case as far as "calories":
http://www.seriouseats.com/2007/11/the-subsidized-food-pyramid.html [seriouseats.com]
"The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has posted an easy-to-understand visual on its site that shows which foods U.S. tax dollars go to support under the nation's farm bill. It's titled "Why Does a Salad Cost More Than a Big Mac?" and depicts two pyramids -- subsidized foods and the old recommended food pyramid. It's interesting to note that the two are almost inversely proportional to each other."

Also, consider how externalities of meat production such as destroying marine ecosystems from overfishing, manure runoff polluting fresh water supplies, and the destruction of so many forests and other land ecosystems to produce cattle feed:
http://www.westernwatersheds.org/watmess/watmess_2002/2002html_summer/article6.htm [westernwatersheds.org]

On your other points, most vegetarians' diets probably aren't very good. They may have too many refined sugars and too few vegetables, too little variety, and too little of things like iodine. It takes a lot of learning and opportunity and time to eat well as a vegetarian. But what is important to acknowledge is that there are plant-based diet styles that will reverse heart disease. So that 32% figure might be some kind of average, but it does not reflect the best possible outcome for someone who is really trying to reverse or prevent heart disease. See my other post here for links, or see as one example, Dr. Esselstyn' work:
http://www.heartattackproof.com/ [heartattackproof.com]

I'd agree though that some small amount of free-range organic grass-fed meat or other similar animal products can potentially be part of a reasonably healthy diet -- other ethical and financial and scalability and externality questions aside. Even Dr. Fuhrman agrees on that part as far as the research -- that if you get 10% or less of your calories from animal products, you are doing pretty well.
http://www.drfuhrman.com/library/foodpyramid.aspx [drfuhrman.com]
https://www.drfuhrman.com/library/article5.aspx [drfuhrman.com]
"Therefore I encourage consumption of a carefully planned vegetarian diet or one that includes a small amount of animal products, perhaps 10% of total calories or less, rather than 40 -60 % that children eat today. An animal-product-rich omnivorous diet cannot be considered nutritious food or called healthful."

High fat diets of animal products laced with growth hormones and such are probably bad for children in general. And also, there are few to no purely vegan diets in history. Even gorillas get some small percentage of their calories from termites and other insects they eat incidentally. B12 is another nutrient than can be an issue, usually provided by animal products, and some say can be supplied from dirty vegetables. Our food supply is in that sense too "clean" to be a pure vegan in (without special effort and selected supplements, if that). Vegans who are also neat freaks may be setting themselves up for disaster in that sense; yet on the other hand, since much "organic" food is grown using animal manure from livestock operations, not washing your vegetables well is a health risk too from E.coli contamination.

It does not take much animal products though to provide some essentials. Related example:
http://drbass.com/generations.html [drbass.com]
"This text is still extremely important, since similar mistakes are still being made today, typically by aspiring vegans and vegan raw-foodists. Deficiencies that sometimes hardly are noticed in the first generation, will show in children and grand-children."

I've read suggestions that most self-proclaimed vegans probably "cheat" too (including best selling authors in the field promoting 100% plant-based diets). One example:
http://www.animalperson.net/on-cheating-and-cookbook-authors/ [animalperson.net]
"The more controversial moment was when Oprah asked Silverstone if she ever cheats and Silverstone admitted to eating some cheese."

But nonetheless, getting less that 10% of your calories from animal products is a huge difference from getting 30% or more from them on the Standard American Diet. 10% of calories from animal products seems to be some sort of tipping point probably for most people where any potential benefits become outweighed by health risks. Excess protein is not good for people as it is hard on the kidneys and other organs. Animal fats tend to concentrate toxins (but also some good things, like iodine). Excess meat consumption can also displace eating phytonutrients that will help your body protect you against a host of diseases including cancer:
http://www.diseaseproof.com/archives/cancer-a-symphony-of-phytonutrients-from-cruciferous-vegetables.html [diseaseproof.com]
"Isothiocyanates (ITCs), which are perhaps the best studied, have been shown to provide protection against environmental carcinogen exposure by inducing detoxification pathways, thereby neutralizing potential carcinogens. These vegetables also contain indole-3-carbinol (I3C). Indole-3-carbinol has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer by decreasing estrogen activity. Important recent studies have shown that cruciferous vegetables
and the compounds they contain can do the following:
* halt the growth of breast cancer cells
* dramatically reduce the risk of colon cancer
* prevent the replication of prostate cancer cells and induce death of cancerous cells
* inhibit the progression of lung cancer
[each of those points has a scientific literature reference at that page]"

But for people on the Standard American Diet what is the real double whammy is eating a lot of animal products and then also eating a lot of refined grains and refined sugars.

It looks like most processed meats are also especially bad though, and that is what a lot of US Americans eat when they eat "meat":
http://institutefornaturalhealing.com/2012/04/processed-meats-declared-too-dangerous-for-human-consumption/ [institutef...ealing.com]

And of course, spending a lot of time indoors, going outdoors only with a lot of clothes, and even bathing frequently are all likely to make people vitamin D deficient, which is another health hazard of the Standard American lifestyle in a northern climate.

So, there are a lot of challenges about food to overcome even beyond politics. Key resources on that:
http://www.healthpromoting.com/store/products/books/pleasure-trap [healthpromoting.com]
http://www.drfuhrman.com/library/article16.aspx [drfuhrman.com] (discusses core ideas in previous linked book)
http://www.amazon.com/Supernormal-Stimuli-Overran-Evolutionary-Purpose/dp/039306848X [amazon.com]
http://paulgraham.com/addiction.html [paulgraham.com]

Re:Waste of money (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#45114101)

So bunny rabbits are immortal?

Who knew?

Re:Waste of money (1)

the_skywise (189793) | about a year ago | (#45114133)

That's because 99.9% of Bunny Rabbits die of STDs...

DUH!

Re:Waste of money (1)

cjjjer (530715) | about a year ago | (#45114309)

I thought that Elmer Fudd was killing them in search of Bugs?

Re:Waste of money (2)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#45114159)

i eat plenty of saturated fats, meat and cholesterol and at almost 40 my cholesterol is less than 200

the secret is to stop eating processed foods and eating meals out. i stopped eating out at lunch and bring my lunch from home that my wife cooked fresh

Re:Waste of money (2)

katz (36161) | about a year ago | (#45114255)

That's great that you eliminated processed food. Try to get your total cholesterol under 150. This page[1] mentions the Framingham Study[2], which showed that "only patients with cholesterol levels of less than 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) achieve the lowest coronary artery disease risk. In the first 50 years of the Framingham study, only five subjects with cholesterol levels of less than 150 mg/dl developed coronary artery disease. Rural residents in the developing areas of Asia, Africa, and Latin America typically have total-cholesterol levels of about 125-140, and they do not develop coronary artery disease."

1. Physicians Committe for Responsible Medicine's page on heart disease: http://www.pcrm.org/health/health-topics/cholesterol-and-heart-disease [pcrm.org]
2. Castelli WP. Making practical sense of clinical trial data in decreasing cardiovascular risk. Am J Cardiol. 2001;88(4A):16F-20F

Re:Waste of money (2)

Riddler Sensei (979333) | about a year ago | (#45114295)

I have mod points and it took every ounce of my being to not abuse them on this post. There is no '-1 Disagree"...

Seriously, though. A plant based diet can and does work, but it's needlessly difficult if you don't have any ethical hangups about animal products. That is, in order to fill the nutrient gap left by omitting animal products you have to do a fair bit of globe trotting to import all of those plants capable of doing so. This can be prohibitively expensive and is really not something that would have been casually possible before globalization (I think it's kind of silly to claim that our bodies will collapse unless we adopt a diet that has become possible only in the past 100 years).

The saturated fat and exogenous cholesterol dogmas are byproducts of a 40+ year old hypothesis that has never once been corroborated in a clinical study. The best it has gotten is a handful of cherry-picked epidemiological studies (while ignoring a good number of epidemiological studies that disagree with it). In fact, I believe that the "low-fat" diet has been pretty damning to our health as a society. Fat is not just an energy source, we absolutely do use it for other processes such as cell construction and hormone production (cholesterol, specifically, is a precursor to EVERY hormone your body makes). Fat and protein also tend to go hand-in-hand in nature, thus haphazardly cutting fat tends to drastically decrease protein intake as well. So we're down to low-fat intake and low-protein intake but we need those 2k calories a day somehow. Now the average low-fat dieter is cornered into an extremely high carbohydrate diet just to get through the day. Are carbohydrates the devil? Heavens, no. But 500+ grams a day for years, if not decades, in a row? Well...T2 diabetes seems to be a new standard in the developed world.

If you do the research, find the producers and can pay the bill then a low-fat, plant based, diet can absolutely work. Most dieters, however, don't, won't and can't. They're not eating quinoa and avocados. Instead they end up replacing otherwise benign animal products with low-fat snack cakes, bagel after bagel, massive plates of daily pasta and other crap.

Bah, this was a bit of a disjointed rant. Just stick to the outer edges of the grocery store (the produce, meat, dairy and seafood sections) and stay away from products with more than 2-3 ingredients on the label. Also, stop eating stuff you're allergic to. Seriously. If you're fat, sick, constipated and asthmatic then maybe that daily glass of milk and scoop of peanut butter isn't do you the favors you thought it was.

In general, good points (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about a year ago | (#45116379)

There are disagreements on the effect of starch on health, one being between Dr. Joel Fuhmran (advocating more calories from leafy green vegetables, other non-starchy vegetables, and beans) and Dr. John McDougall (advocating calories more from starchy plants like sweet potato and whole grains, in part on pragmatic grounds). Even as they both agree that starch should be the basis of calories for humans. See:
http://www.lanimuelrath.com/diet-nutrition/mcdougall-vs-fuhrman-notes-for-you-from-the-great-plant-based-doctors-debate/ [lanimuelrath.com]

See my other posts here for other related links and also agreement that many vegetarians' diets are pretty bad for reasons like you mention, and also pros and cons on some degree of animal products (up to 10% or so of calories)

In general, the longest lived societies get moderate exercise in the sunshine (vitamin D) and eat a lot of legumes (lentils, beans, etc.) and only limited animal products. Ref:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Zone [wikipedia.org]
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/1/12/Vendiagram.gif [wikimedia.org]
http://www.bluezones.com/ [bluezones.com]
"The people inhabiting Blue Zones share common lifestyle characteristics that contribute to their longevity. The Venn diagram at the right highlights the following six shared characteristics among the people of Okinawa, Sardinia, and Loma Linda Blue Zones:[8]
        Family -- Family is put ahead of other concerns.
        No smoking -- Smoking is not found in large quantities.
        Plant-based diet -- Except for the Sardinian diet, the majority of food consumed is derived from plants.
        Constant moderate physical activity -- Moderate physical activity is an inseparable part of life.
        Social engagement -- People of all ages are socially active and integrated into their communities.
        Legumes -- Legumes are commonly consumed."

However, for people who have serious heart disease, then things change. Meat may have a much worse effect then. If such a person wants to reverse their heart disease, they may have to go on a diet without probably any meat (or very very little) for a time:
http://www.heartattackproof.com/huffpost.htm [heartattackproof.com]
"Answer: In an intensive 5 hour counseling session for a group of heart patients my first priority is to eliminate the mystery of what causes their disease. It has not been stress, or genes. It is their western diet of processed oil, dairy, and meat. Hypertension, diabetes, and smoking must be controlled but food trumps all. I spend at least an hour defining the protective role of endothelial cells and nitric oxide functioning as the ultimate guardians of our blood vessels. They quickly understand that their lifetime of ingesting these harmful products has totally overwhelmed and destroyed their endothelium to an extent where it is unable to protect them. They fully grasp that they must forever eliminate ingesting foods that will further destroy their already compromised endothelium. They understand heart disease is a food borne illness. ...
    They understand that they can halt their disease. They are presented with my scientific articles demonstrating reversal of disease. They learn that anginal chest pain may diminish or disappear within 10-14 days in some patients while others may take longer. We share our data confirming reversal of carotid artery disease to the brain, coronary artery disease of the heart, peripheral vascular disease in the extremities, and the reversal of erectile dysfunction. They are made to appreciate how rapidly and powerfully the endothelial function may be restored. The most significant message in our counseling is patient awareness that they are empowered to be the locus of control of their disease."

So, the amount of meat one can eat without significant health issue may have to do with how far heart disease has progressed.

Also from that last link, showing why "predicting heart disease" is ludicrous compared to *preventing" or "reversing* it:
-----
Question: What is your criticism of the present management of heart disease through drug stents and bypass surgery?

Answer: It is expensive, dangerous, and ineffective. None of these approaches addresses the factors that cause the disease. A doctor would never treat poison ivy without advising the patient to avoid exposure to poison ivy plants. Sadly the usual treatment of cardiovascular disease almost never includes hours of patient counseling so they may completely eliminate the foods which are injuring their endothelium. Stents may block, bypass veins shut down, drug doses increase, and blood vessel disease worsen. The present cost of this non-treatment of heart disease is unsustainable even in our wealthy nation.

Question: Dr. Esselstyn, are you a threat to the stenting and bypass industry?

Answer: Not really. Stents and bypass surgery in an emergency setting are absolutely lifesaving. However, for non-emergency situations an intensive lifestyle trial of 3-6 months would eliminate the need for most interventions. It is of interest that when physicians and some interventional cardiologist themselves develop the disease they come knocking at my door.

Question: What forces are lined against you?

Answer: The government, drug industry, and some of my own profession. The USDA every five years produces a food triangle which promotes the very foods which guarantee that millions of Americans will perish.

The drug industry has a $21 billion dollar income from statin drugs alone. The stent manufacturers make billions more. Neither of these companies would want this epidemic resolved.

Physicians who perform stents and bypass surgery earn millions and are hardly clamoring for fewer patients.

Question: Any final thoughts?

Answer: When people learn to eat plant based to eliminate heart disease it could inaugurate a seismic revolution in health. Other diseases that resolve include obesity, hypertension, stroke, heart attacks, gall stones, diverticulitis, asthma, osteoporosis, allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, and a marked decrease in the common western cancers of breast, prostate, colon, endometrial, ovarian, and pancreatic.

To paraphrase John Kennedy âoeAsk not what your country can do for your health, ask what you can do for your health.â
-----

On the other hand, it is only because of the "Big Data" of the entire internet that I have been able to learn all this. Only because of the "Big Data" of Google (or similar) could I search for all this. So, there is a role for data analysis in health. I recently proposed a project to help with that for a Knight News Challenge on harnessing health data to help communities, but alas, it did not make it past the first round:
"Health Sensemaking Software Tools"
https://www.newschallenge.org/challenge/healthdata/entries/health-sensemaking-software-tools [newschallenge.org]

And coming back to your point, there are good ways and bad ways to change your diet away from SAD. And that way may vary based on an individuals current health, their past history, their genetics, their allergies, their habits, their ethics and/or religious beliefs, their family, their community, and their culture. The advice you outline is certainly a step forward for most US Americans embedded in a certain cultural context. Similar simple (but not simplistic) advice is to eat a rainbow of foods, like in the book, "What Color Is Your Diet?". Or Michael Pollan's rules which include part of yours:
http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/news/20090323/7-rules-for-eating [webmd.com]

Re:Waste of money (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about a year ago | (#45116679)

I have mod points and it took every ounce of my being to not abuse them on this post. There is no '-1 Disagree"...

There is "Overrated." It's generally considered "close enough."

Re:Waste of money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45114325)

You're rather out of date. People have been following the low-fat / low-cholesterol diets for ages, yet obesity and heart attacks continue to rise. On the other hand studies show just as many people have high as low cholesterol when they get their heart attack. Study after study shows that a diet rich in animal products and fat doesn't lead to heart disease, yet you're not going to listen because you're ideologically sewn to the vegan diet.

proven wrong (partially) (1)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | about a year ago | (#45114391)

The whole cholesterol thing and low fat part have been proven wrong. Carbs, most notably sugar, have now proven to be way more important in both weight gain than (animal) fat in general. Check http://ds9a.nl/new-consensus/ [ds9a.nl] for links to the full explanation and scientific studies to prove this.

Re:Waste of money (1)

BlackPignouf (1017012) | about a year ago | (#45114511)

It's not meat that's the problem.
It's too much sugar, too much fat, too much salt and too few exercise.

Re:Waste of money (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about a year ago | (#45114779)

It's not meat that's the problem. It's too much sugar, too much fat, too much salt and too few exercise.

Some doctors agree w/you. See the "Sugar: The Bitter Truth" link in my previous post [slashdot.org] .

Re:Waste of money (1)

metlin (258108) | about a year ago | (#45115313)

Or just eat a healthy balanced diet at or below your TDEE, and work out regularly. Moderation in everything and all that.

I find that just being active goes a long way towards having good heart health. Now, obviously, people with perfect eating habits and workout schedules still get heart attacks, but on average, there are enough studies showing that good and active health habits (eating right, not smoking, working out) correspond to good heart health.

Moderation does not mean that you stop eating everything you enjoy. It means that you eat them occasionally. Ensuring that you hit your protein/fat/cab macros on a weekly basis, getting enough fruits and vegetables, cutting down fried foods, sodas, and saving that burger, fries, and beer for an occasional treat.

Even in my own life, I can clearly look at those friends and colleagues who are active versus those who are fat slobs who drink ungodly amounts of beer, smoke, and watch football and suffer from heart problems at an early age. That is not including issues like sleep apnea, pulmonary problems, and just generally being unfit and unhealthy.

I rather like this short and awesome clip by Will Gadd called Move [rockandice.com] on the importance of movement. Ultimately, we all tend to fall off the wagon once in a while. But there's something to be said about just getting your feet back on the ground and just busting your ass either at the gym, playing a sport, or just being outside.

While I enjoy my time sleeping in or vegging out on the couch, I've never regretted those times when I've spent my weekends climbing, running or being outside, coming home exhausted. While I have enjoyed vacations where I've come back fatter after having spent two weeks on a beach eating and getting drunk, I am more proud of the ones where I spent two weeks out in the middle of nowhere, hiking and climbing and come home with a badass beard and smelling like sweat and earth.

There are some evenings when I am tempted to just go out with my friends, drink beer, watch TV, and crash on the couch. It takes an effort to get my ass off to a run, and come back and eat a salad and a protein shake. But over time, that pays off.

Every time I have fallen off the wagon, I can slowly see my own cardiovascular health deteriorating, in as short a time frame as just six months -- elevated cholesterol levels, shortness of breath when climbing up a flight of stairs, and a general lethargy that builds up. But when I'm actually out being active, the opposite happens -- good practices become habits. I am more active. Less lazy. The couch is a welcome occasional respite. The occasional burger and fries are a welcome treat, but not something I can do every day. The occasional beer after working out feel refreshing. And it's always awesome to see women check me out. And my physicals are something I look forward to, not something I'm afraid of.

So, yeah. Ultimately, the secret to good health (in my very humble opinion and personal experience) is good, moderate eating habits and an active lifestyle.

Re:Waste of money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45115477)

Eating a low-fat whole-plant-based diet, doesn't prevent heart disease. It does however turn you into a smug condescending holier than thou faggot.

Re:Waste of money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45115781)

Well, no, not really.

While I won't dispute that foods high in saturated fats are a bad thing in volume, meat itself isn't automatically bad.

Eskimos eat mostly meat and suffer none of the ill health effects that the "Forks over Knives" crowd assumes they should be suffering from. Many other Western cultures eat tons of cheese and meat and don't suffer from the same issues Americans do. We often point to the Chinese as having the "ideal" plant-based diet yet they consume far more pork than we do per capita - and pork, as great as it tastes, is just really, really bad for your body.

The main evil is inflammation which is caused by the over-over-over-abundance of carbohydrates in the typical North American diet. We are quite literally gorging ourselves to death on carbs and as a society are heavily addicted to them. The crazy 500+ lbs. morbidly obese people you see who have to be carved out of their homes and carted to gastric bypass surgery on a forklift are that way because of massive, massive, MASSIVE carb consumption fed to them by stupid enablers (family members, most likely, that they are bullying and emotionally manipulating like small children).

Cut the carbs to one-twentieth of the normal Americans' daily consumption - problem solved. When you do want something sweet get it from a natural source like fruits and vegetables. Everything else in moderation, including meat.

Yes we obviously need to exercise more as in the 100 years we've shifted substantively from an agrarian to a sedentary/office type workplace but diet, not our overly sedentary lifestyle, is the main problem. Humans are naturally inclined to be omnivores and have been entirely throughout their history around the world. While some cultures have been largely vegetarian out of necessity or belief (e.g., India), widespread vegetarianism and veganism is a fairly modern phenomenon primarily among educated white folk who don't want to eat meat any more, not so much for health reasons but because they don't want to have slaughtered meat to provide protein.

The rest of us, we pretty much love our cheeseburger and steak.

So true: reverse heart disease, not predict it (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about a year ago | (#45115825)

http://www.drfuhrman.com/disease/HeartDisease.aspx [drfuhrman.com]
http://www.heartattackproof.com/ [heartattackproof.com]

Don't let the naysayer comments get you down.

Also, if arteries in you heart are all clogged up, then what about arteries in you arms, legs, liver, and brain? Cardiovascular disease affects every system in the body -- it is just that heart problems tend to be more tragically obvious than other clogs. So, the best approach is not to unclog a little part of the hearth that will just clog back up soon, but to unclog everything by eating differently.

A story from:
http://www.drmcdougall.com/health/education/health-science/stars/stars-written/robert-cross/ [drmcdougall.com]
-----
Robert Cross: Formerly Dying from Heart Disease ...

Further research led me to Dr. McDougall, and registered dietitian Jeff Novick. All these people gave hope for arresting, and perhaps reversing, my condition through diet and lifestyle modifications. In contrast, neither my internist, nor my cardiologist, was aware of these doctors or their programs or any significant benefit to lifestyle modification. They discouraged me from delaying the surgery, but accepted my decision to at least give diet and "medical management" a try.

My early results were promising. My first blood test on the diet showed my cholesterol was now down to 120 mg/dL and my LDL was 60 mg/dL. My internist was astounded. Medication had only lowered my numbers slightly. I was on Dr. Esselstyn's exact program, which is virtually identical to that of Dr. McDougall, and I hired the McDougall Program dietitian, Jeff Novick, RD, as my coach. I found that everything I needed was available immediately and for free through Dr. McDougall's website. I learned that my results would directly reflect my compliance with the program. I resolved that I would do this program 100 percent. If I could not be 100 percent on my own or failed to get my doctors' support, then I was going to go to the McDougall Live-in Program without delay. (I still plan on going.) I owed that to myself and my family.

Almost immediately, my chest pain went away. My internist asked how I had accomplished this and my dramatic cholesterol drop, and then became quite interested in my program. I needed his help because of the side effects of the medications that occurred once I changed my diet. I had to quickly get off my blood pressure medications because my readings were extremely low and I was feeling light headed. My blood sugars came way down and I had to terminate my diabetes medication. I eventually stopped all of my Lipitor, yet my total cholesterol stayed at 160 mg/dL (my LDL cholesterol remained at 60 mg/dL). I have lost over 60 pounds since beginning my new diet and exercise program in January of 2008, and I continue to lose as my energy increases. I have had no more kidney stones.

After following my progress for almost a year and a half, the cardiologist wanted to repeat the nuclear heart scan. My internist agreed. He was also sure that I was wrong when I had told him that many clinical trials have shown no important benefits other than pain relief for the surgery they had proposed for me more than a year and a half ago. Despite my many obvious improvements, the cardiologist still believed that coronary artery disease is always progressive, and told me not to get my hopes up about the new test. I repeated the exercise nuclear heart scan on May 5, 2009.

This time, I felt great running on the treadmill. I took my heart rate beyond the maximum expected for my age, and had no pain. The monitors I was connected to indicated no problems. Immediately after the test, I spoke with my cardiologist, who seemed somewhat perplexed. He chose his words very carefully. He wanted to know if I had felt chest pain on the first exam in 2008. I think he did not believe the previous test results, because this time my heart showed only a single mild abnormality. Most noticeable was that the large area of obstruction found on my first test was not seen at all.

He seemed to not want to confront the possibility that the both tests were accurate--that I had actually reversed my serious condition with a simple change in diet and a little exercise. How could he question the obvious: my weight loss, the reductions in medications, and the changes in my blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels? Right before his eyes I went from sick and symptomatic to feeling and looking great. His skepticism continued as he explained to me that despite the fact that the occlusion could no longer be seen, it did not mean that I was totally cured. But at least he now accepted my decision to avoid surgery as responsible.

Here are some excerpts from the cardiologist's report of my second test: "He comes in today and underwent exercise myocardial perfusion imaging. He was able to exercise almost 10 minutes on the standard Bruce protocol. There were no reported symptoms consistent with angina pectoris. He denied chest pain or chest discomfort. (He denies any symptoms of congestive heart failure--shortness of breath and extreme fatigue)."

The myocardial perfusion images showed there was still a subtle inferior wall perfusion defect...[that is it]. My cardiologist's recommendations: low dose aspirin and a nine-month follow up visit.

I look back on this lifestyle change as one of the most significant things I have ever done. The improvements have gone far beyond the reversal of the disease in my heart's arteries. So many everyday problems have vanished - high blood pressure, diabetes, high lipids, indigestion, obesity, kidney stones, etc. More important, this is a treatment that I can feel and see. Before, those pills and my old diet made me look and feel awful. I now have a new lease on life.

-----

Consider the above and then weight these words:
http://www.drfuhrman.com/library/PCI_angioplasty_article.aspx [drfuhrman.com]
"Interventional cardiology and cardiovascular surgery is basically a scam based on a misunderstanding of the nature of heart disease. ... The sad thing is surgical interventions and medications are the foundation of modern cardiology and both are relatively ineffective compared to nutritional excellence. My patients routinely reverse their heart disease, and no longer have vulnerable plaque or high blood pressure, so they do not need medical care, hospitals or cardiologists anymore. The problem is that in the real world cardiac patients are not even informed that heart disease is predictably reversed with nutritional excellence. They are not given the opportunity to choose and just corralled into these surgical interventions. ..."

Sadly, I just found out a neighbor was similarly corralled into open heart surgery just the other day. From what I heard second hand, the doctors pressured him to have open heart surgery the very next day after failing a "test". Just heard about it too late to offer alternatives now that it is done. Now I don't know whether or when to tell him he was essentially scammed, after all the suffering he and his family have no doubt gone through (not wanting to add to his stress at the moment). Sad about all of the needless suffering, the enormous cost, and the fact that other clogged arteries are no doubt being ignored, and that the heart arteries will likely just clog back up again (as seems to have happened two two family members who died some months after surgical heart interventions).

To use a car analogy, it's kind of like if you had an six cylinder engine in your car, and you bring it in for a tune up, and a mechanic takes out a spark plug and says the cylinder (heart) was coated with sticky caramelized crud. What would you do if they said they should bypass that one cylinder by drilling a new cylinder. Would you just go ahead the next day and do that? Or should the mechanic have checked are the other cylinders (brain, kidneys, liver, etc.) also crudded up with the same stuff? Should the mechanic have asked where is the crud coming from -- like maybe bad fuel (heart-disease-promoting food)? Should mechanics get paid for "predicting" engine failure instead of preventing it by good advice about fuel choices?

See also for another person's story of health improvements via dietary and lifestyle changes: http://fatsickandnearlydead.com/ [fatsickandnearlydead.com]

Re:Waste of money (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about a year ago | (#45116757)

If you want to prevent heart disease, stop eating saturted fat and cholesterol and stick with a low-fat whole-plant-based diet. This knowledge is not new; this stuff has been known for almost a hundred years now, yet we're still spending money dancing around the fact that eating animals and their byproducts leads to heart disease.

Source: http://www.plantpositive.com/ [plantpositive.com]

For me, becoming a vegetarian actually resulted in significant weight gain, increased blood pressure, higher blood glucose and higher cholesterol. My fat consumption, particularly saturated fats, decreased dramatically but I got the opposite effect that orthodox nutrition says I should. Increasing fat consumption, including milk and egg fats brought all those numbers back to normal -- I'm guessing the milk and eggs are what you're calling "animal byproducts".

I guess I practice a "low carb" vegetarian diet. Not "low carb" in the Atkins sense, by any means, though.

I am a single data point. I point that out so that anyone responding thusly is being redundant.

Old age is a killer (1)

ABEND (15913) | about a year ago | (#45114029)

Wouldn't it be better use of our resources to combat the "killers" of people in their twenties and thirties? Those killers being suicide, homicide, and "accidents."

Re:Old age is a killer (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#45114047)

Eh, much easier just to be theatrically 'tough on crime' and ascribe psych issues to weakness of character. Your approach sounds like effort.

Re:Old age is a killer (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#45114119)

It would be 'better use of our resources' if we didn't do anything. Just stand back and make money for the corporations. That's all we really are supposed to do, right?

Besides, dead young people are better sources of organs for all of those really important people who help corporations make money.

Re:Old age is a killer (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#45114199)

My understanding is that suicides tend to be unhelpful organ sources (sometimes poisoned/overdosed, or killed by asphyxiation, frequently not discovered promptly, etc.) I don't know how homicides stack up: swiftly-discovered headshot victims are probably gold(albeit gold that may not be in the donor registry or with next of kin that are easy to get ahold of for consent if needed), victims of messier trauma, or ones whose bodies are unavailable because of delayed discovery or use as evidence for police purposes are probably useless.

What you really want is young, healthy, adrenaline-crazed, motorcycle riders. Nothing says 'accidental altruist' quite like an otherwise healthy young guy with absurdly fatal cranial trauma, a few peripheral bruises and scrapes, and an otherwise perfect body.

Re:Old age is a killer (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about a year ago | (#45114057)

why bother with the suicides and homicides when the accidental death rate is more than 2.5x either one?

Re:Old age is a killer (2)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#45114081)

That's a false choice. We can do both and one doesn't interfere with the other.

Re:Old age is a killer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45114089)

Accidents and homicides are at a multi-decade low. Murder rate in the US was nearly cut in half over the last 20 years.

Re:Old age is a killer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45114191)

Wouldn't it be better use of our resources to combat the "killers" of people in their twenties and thirties? Those killers being suicide, homicide, and "accidents."

How about obesity?

I see these little kids with guts that used to take years of beer drinking to achieve waddling around and it kills me. And the incidence of Type II diabetes among children is alarming.

But will anything be done about it?

Nope!

The food industry have their claws so deep in the FDA and the Department of Agriculture, they're too scared to do anything. And add in the farm belt Congressmen and Senators who are making millions off of their own agriculture investments (thanks to the taxpayer subsidies), our kids have no chance.

And then that adds into the costs of our extremely over priced health care system.

We should stop all agriculture subsides because it just ends up in the pockets of Cargill, Monsanto and a few millionaires pockets - NOT in the family farmers!

Re:Old age is a killer (1)

pla (258480) | about a year ago | (#45114203)

Prolonging the life of people past their reproductive years has no effect on long-term population. Keeping more people alive long enough to reproduce, however, does. We want more people dying young, not less.

Furthermore... Accidents, by definition, happen accidentally. If you could prevent them, they wouldn't have happened.

As for suicide - If someone wants to die - Let 'em. Someday, if we don't get hit by a bus first, we all end up dying of something, and a great many of those somethings hurt. When that time comes, I fully intent to exercise my reality-given right (which no laws can ever take away from me) to put myself out of my misery.

As for homicides, I dunno. Eat less lead?

Re:Old age is a killer (1)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | about a year ago | (#45114371)

Evolutionarily speaking, that is incorrect. Socially speaking, that is incorrect. Genes affecting life expectancy are under selective pressures just as anything else. For organisms of our metabolism and size, we have unusually high life expectancies (wrt to genes). It is reasonable to think that there are selective pressures that have pushed to increase our ability to live and function well beyond our peak fertility. One very plausible explanation very specific to humans is that we are extremely good at teaching skills, leading and acting on accumulated experiences, and communicating to newer generations. This leads to improvement to the survival outcome of newer generations, and more importantly, genetic descendants.

Now to the social side of things, on average people are economically productive well throughout their lives. In fact, their productivity tends to increase for quite a while as they become more experienced with their occupation. This varies from occupation to occupation, but the overall trend is there. Especially in roles involving leadership.

Re:Old age is a killer (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#45115325)

Furthermore... Accidents, by definition, happen accidentally. If you could prevent them, they wouldn't have happened.

Just because something is an accident doesn't mean it couldn't have been prevented. For example, there's a lot that has been done (and could be done) to prevent car accidents... Putting soft surfaces on playgrounds helps prevent accidental deaths and injuries from falls... Fire safety codes help prevent accidental fire deaths... And so on.... a huge amount of money is spent each year in direct and indirect costs of preventing accidents.

Re:Old age is a killer (1)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | about a year ago | (#45114213)

No. Because medical conditions (specifically heart disease) are by far the leading cause of mortality in the US. They also have a very heavy impact on the economy evident by the fact that the healthcare industry is so enormous to accommodate them.

start with databasing shopping lists (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45114037)

extra points for bacon!

If people are prevented to die... (1)

mspring (126862) | about a year ago | (#45114321)

from heart disease, what will they then die from? And how much will that cost?

Re:If people are prevented to die... (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about a year ago | (#45114765)

Not sure if your questions are rhetorical or not. But the #2 killer is cancer, and that is even more expensive to treat. Personally I'd choose a heart attack even in my mid 60's (reality is I had my first one in my 20's and have had a whole bunch already) over cancer in my 70's. Outliving your money/income can't be nice, even when you have progeny to depend on. And if you don't, well then you're screwed.

Fight Club (1)

jamoca (2596235) | about a year ago | (#45114327)

Reading the title I thought this would be about excessive fighting, as in fist fights.

Re:Fight Club (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45114699)

Don`t be silly, you cannot have a fist-fight with the federal Reserve Bank....
One may, however, find a video of a bare Janet Yellen in her younger days flaying the fiddle....
- KijkOpDeDijk

fyi, Wall Street was initially a dijk

Re:Fight Club (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45115413)

"Fighting, the Number-One Killer In the US, With Data"
They have data to show that fighting is indeed the number killer in the US.

Don't believe the salesman's hype (4, Informative)

nbauman (624611) | about a year ago | (#45114329)

It is a hypothesis that collecting more data will find a pattern that will predict heart failure earlier, and that will lead to earlier interventions.

They haven't demonstrated that it works.

In order to demonstrate it, they have to do a controlled trial. They have to use these data collection systems in a group of 5,000 patients, and use the usual methods in another 5,000 similar patients, and see if there's any difference in a meaningful outcome. Do the patients live any longer? Are they any less likely to get strokes?

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. The New England Journal of Medicine just published a report on the use of a high-tech surgical intervention -- implanting cardiac resynchronizing devices in a new subset of heart failure patients. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1306687 [nejm.org] It turned out the resynchronization patients had more deaths than the control group, and they stopped the study early. You don't know until you've done the randomized, controlled trial. That's the method of science, the experimental method. You take your brilliant ideas and put them to a test.

That's science. Everything else is bullshit.

There was a study of using an electronic medical record in a pediatric intensive care unit. The patients with the EMR had a higher death rate than the control patients. The doctors said that when they needed to write a prescription in a hurry, they would just take out their Rx pad and write it. When they needed to write it with the EMR, they had to sign in, go through screens, and find what they were looking for.

EMR replaced a simple, effective system -- paper and pen -- with a more difficult system. What's the point?

Read what doctors are actually saying about electronic medical records, http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/ [kevinmd.com] http://www.nejm.org/ [nejm.org]

There are systems that actually make it easier to treat patients. As I understand it, the Veterans Affairs and Kaiser Permanente have systems that actually collect useful data. The Scandinavians have great useful databases. http://www.bmj.com/content/347/bmj.f5906 [bmj.com] But a lot of the new systems, particularly the ones that are merely being installed because they're required and subsidized under new federal regulations, are driving doctors crazy. They complain that they have to log in, go through screens, fill out checklist after checklist, and wind up with records that go on for hundreds of pages that nobody ever looks at again. Traditionally, on paper, they were forced to write a concise narrative for their colleagues and themselves, of useful information that got to the point and helped them make a decision about what to do next. These poorly-designed EMRs stopped forcing doctors to think. It simply forced them to collect a lot of data. Data isn't information. Useless data is noise.

And maybe most of all, they complain that instead of looking at their patients, they're looking at a computer screen. If you have to tell somebody that he's going to die in 6 months if he doesn't stop smoking, you shouldn't be looking at your computer screen. Maybe there's an element of human communication that computer nerds don't appreciate.

In any computerized records, there's a tradeoff between how much data you collect, and how much time you have to spend entering data. You can spend an extra hour a day just entering more data. Is this pill a tablet or a capsule?

And more important than time, when you write a medical record, you should be filtering information for just the important information. Otherwise you're just adding noise to the record, and making it harder for the humans to spot patterns.

If you want to prevent heart failure, the basic job is to stop smoking, lose weight, and exercise. When patients get outside of certain well-understood parameters, you can give them drugs, to lower blood pressure for example. Every doctor should know these guidelines by heart. When the blood pressure goes over 140 to 160 mm Hg, you give drugs to lower the blood pressure. http://www.aafp.org/afp/2010/0401/p848.html [aafp.org] You need a computer for that?

I believe that some day medical records will be computerized, and they'll be better. But we won't get there by indiscriminately throwing computers into medical offices. It's like Isaac Asimov said: You need a doorstop? Get a computer with a big foot.

Re:Don't believe the salesman's hype (1)

demonlapin (527802) | about a year ago | (#45114719)

Absolutely correct. Mod parent up.

Re:Don't believe the salesman's hype (1)

prichardson (603676) | about a year ago | (#45114885)

There was a study of using an electronic medical record in a pediatric intensive care unit. The patients with the EMR had a higher death rate than the control patients. The doctors said that when they needed to write a prescription in a hurry, they would just take out their Rx pad and write it. When they needed to write it with the EMR, they had to sign in, go through screens, and find what they were looking for.

Do you have a link to that? I would like to see it.

Re:Don't believe the salesman's hype (1)

nbauman (624611) | about a year ago | (#45115363)

Do you have a link to that? I would like to see it.

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/116/6/1506.full [aappublications.org]

Unexpected Increased Mortality After Implementation of a Commercially Sold Computerized Physician Order Entry System

Pediatrics Vol. 116 No. 6
December 1, 2005
pp. 1506 -1512
doi: 10.1542/peds.2005-1287

Re:Don't believe the salesman's hype (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#45116783)

And maybe most of all, they complain that instead of looking at their patients, they're looking at a computer screen. If you have to tell somebody that he's going to die in 6 months if he doesn't stop smoking, you shouldn't be looking at your computer screen. Maybe there's an element of human communication that computer nerds don't appreciate.

My endocrinologist is like this, poking at the computer screen for the vast majority of the 20 minutes (!) he sits with me. It's a world built by politicians and bureaucrats and not by doctors or scientists (with an HMI engineer sitting there with them to optimize the interactions.)

Re:Don't believe the salesman's hype (1)

nbauman (624611) | about a year ago | (#45117023)

Actually, most of the office systems were originally designed for insurance company billing. Then they tacked on the clinical applications.

Fight heart disease with celery (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45114377)

Without gobs of blue cheese dressing.

Walking a bit would help too.

Re:Fight heart disease with celery (1)

EvilSS (557649) | about a year ago | (#45116183)

So fight heart disease by loading up on sodium nitrate?

We are all Going to die. (1)

Stan92057 (737634) | about a year ago | (#45114461)

We are all Going to die.So fighting heart failure is a waste of time. We already know you have to quite or dont start smoking at all. Exercise and eat right. And you will add maybe 15 years but your still going to die. we already have powerful drugs that are adding years but we are still going to die. I think that money should be used in another way Education,Disease that only affect a small amount of people that kinda use is better IMO.

Re:We are all Going to die. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45114717)

Nation Debt of usa equal to ABCD...... National Debt of DRCongo equal to XYZ
a baller might not die from a compound-fracture,
but (tens of?) millions die directly resulting from Fractional Reserve Banking.

ECG iphone app (1)

warrior389 (314070) | about a year ago | (#45114467)

I just bought this iphone case with built in wireless ecg [cardiacdesigns.com] . Its a little disappointing as I don't get the display thats on the picture. All I get is a notification box that says "normal" with no readouts or gauges, and not even what my heart rate was. Theres an option to turn on prescription mode, but you have to get a prescription from your doctor, scan it, and send it in to the manufacturer. I think this is a good start, but it would be better if it had the option of adding more electrodes and actually showing the user some useful information.

This study needs to be rethought (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45114503)

As a practicing physician, I see two major flaws with this initiative as described in the link above

First, the link implies that this study pertains to heart failure. Heart failure usually starts suddenly, most commonly after a heat attack. Patients with heart attacks are already monitored closely for heart failure, and an expansive review of records really isn't necessary. Other less common causes of heart failure, such as viral infection, start suddenly as well. A long term review of records probably won't reveal much. While there are certain situations where heart failure can slowly progress (such as valve problems), we often don't treat until symptoms develop. It's not at all clear that earlier detection will lead to better outcomes for most patients.

Second, this appears to be a retrospective approach. The problem with retrospective studies is the inconsistency in documentation. For example, changes in blood pressure as a person goes from sitting to standing can sometimes be a sign of heart problems. However, if someone comes to the office with a cut on their finger and no history of heart trouble, I am going to focus on the issues at hand (suturing, infection, tetanus, etc.) and probably won't check blood pressure in multiple positions. Regardless of whether the records are computerized or not, the data simply won't be there. In modern practice, insurance companies barely allow enough time to perform a basic exam with special focus on the issue at hand. If I document everything I can possibly document on every patient, my practice will be bankrupt by the end of the month.

IBM Business Model (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45114945)

IBM's latest business model seems to be suckering governments to increase the complexities of life. They've finally given up on real business.

the REAL number one KILLER in the US are GUNS (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45115053)

The article is wrong. The number one killer in the US are GUNS. GUNS are the biggest killer in the US. Just ask Pier Morgan, or Mr. Obama. If we get rid of GUNS, only allowing the government and those who are employed by the wealthy to have GUNS, than the US will be a better place for everyone to live. There would be no more killings of women and children in the US.

No one needs to have a GUN unless, you are part of the Government or employed by the wealthy to protect them.

Mr. Obama is our saviour, we need to obey him, and the wealthy people who put him in power.

Re:the REAL number one KILLER in the US are GUNS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45115127)

Shhhh

So people don't die of heart disease.... (1)

VoiceOfDoom (875772) | about a year ago | (#45115547)

....or cancer

And they live longer with arthritis, osteoporosis, a failing immune system and dementia. Yeah, sounds like fun.

The Torchwood mini-series "Miracle Day" springs to mind.

Re:So people don't die of heart disease.... (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about a year ago | (#45116813)

....or cancer

And they live longer with arthritis, osteoporosis, a failing immune system and dementia. Yeah, sounds like fun.

The Torchwood mini-series "Miracle Day" springs to mind.

It's not the first heart attack that kills you, it's the last.

Or to be less snarky, heart disease quite often results in significant extended morbidity before death. Few of us are so lucky to clutch our chests one minute and cut to a graveside service in the rain after the commercial break. And you can have the other stuff you mentioned concurrently, too. Death sucks, but the dying can suck even more.

A lot more than meets the eye... (1)

LagFlag (691908) | about a year ago | (#45117261)

I work in healthcare, actually for one of the organizations mentioned in the article.

Healthcare organizations have a big incentive to show "meaningful use" to the federal government. The federal government will reimburse healthcare organizations a substantial amount - up to $44,000 per physician under Medicare or up to $65,000 over six years, under Medicaid - if they adopt electronic medical records and show "meaningful use" of those EMRs to improve patient care. (Note: this money doesn't go to physicians, it goes to healthcare organizations.)

What we are seeing in this article are 2 healthcare organizations trying to show a tiny bit of "meaningful use" so that they can partake of the federal government's financial largesse. Nothing more.

The study described in the article would be an "observational" study. Observational studies are one of the weakest forms of medical evidence. A positive finding would indicate something that should be investigated further. What we are really interested in in medicine are randomized controlled trials showing an intervention results in a positive (good) outcome and, for big data in medicine, such studies aren't even on the horizon.

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