Any women with high CAC scores?
I'm new here. Passionate 64-year old Italian-American college journalism professor married to a gastroenterologist who thought I was in great health. Eat pasta, lots of vegetables, fruit, and little meat, never overweight, look young, feel young, but my dad and four of his brothers dropped dead of heart attacks in their 50s. I've always had elevated cholesterol and triglycerides with elevated glucose levels since my 30s, but high HDL. Not one doctor, including my husband, has thought much of it because "I'm a woman" and appear to be the epitome of health. Everything changed 10 weeks ago when I decided I should have some overdue bloodwork. Cholesterol was 280, LDL 170, triglycerides 272, A1C 6.5 and HS-CRP 10. Scared me to death and decided to have the Calcium cat scan, thinking it would be a zero. It came back at 256, with 255 in the LAD. I've had zero symptoms, dance aerobics 45 minutes a day, no shortness of breath. Had the nuclear stress test the week after which came out perfect. WHAT THE HECK? According to the MESA score, I am at the 92 percentile which puts me at high risk for heart attack and stroke, and according the MESA, my arterial age is 79?? Husband got me in to see one of the top researchers of CAC and CAC progression next week at UCLA where he practices but I'm in total disbelief. I don't take statins but may have to (which raises CAC score), taking an aspirin a day, went full strict no refined carbs – goodbye pasta and bread- and lost 15 pounds in 10 weeks which puts me at a weight I was in my 30s. Understand that you can't reverse CAC score but you can stop the progression. That's all I care about right now. Determined and interested in anything you have to say and anything that's worked for you – supplements, diet, vitamins. Have read all your posts (it's my new past time- misery loves company, right?) and have heard of Vitamin C, K, magnesium, fish oil, Co-Q10, niacin, aged garlic). Will post after my appointment next week and share what this doc says (he's written half the studies that come up on CAC, CAD, and CAC progression). As many of you post: I feel like a walking time bomb. Questioning if learning of the CAC score is a blessing or a curse. I went from a very happy person to a total wreck who is relieved to be teaching online for another semester because I don't want to have a heart attack or stroke in front of my students. Sigh.
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Here's a video of dr. Esselstyn: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_o4YBQPKtQ&t=5s
Medicare also covers Dr. Ornish's program.
Dr. Dean Ornish’s work, as well as Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn’s work on heart disease. showed regression in coronary plaques in their patients who followed a whole food plant-based diet. I’d encourage you to check out their studies and books if you haven’t done so already. Their work is very encouraging and shows that we do not have to succumb to heart disease.
Theirs was a significant lifestyle intervention, not a miracle supplement. Dr. Esselstyn did a small, uncontrolled observational study; Dr. Ornish did a small controlled study.
In the Esselstyn study, the diet was quite restrictive: “Initially the intervention avoided all added oils and processed foods that contain oils, fish, meat, fowl, dairy products, avocado, nuts and excess salt. Patients were also asked to avoid sugary foods (sucrose, fructose and drinks containing them, refined carbohydrates, fruit juices, syrups, and molasses). Subsequently, we also excluded caffeine and fructose.”
The Ornish study had a similar completely vegetarian diet, but 10% of calories from fat was allowed. In addition, there was — as there was not in Esselstyn — mandatory stress reduction time, and all smokers in the study quit. This study’s results, proven by angiography, showed reversal in coronary blockages by 3% in five years, compared with 12% worsening in the control group in the same time.
Esselstyn analyzed the study by those judged adherent and nonadherent. For any subject who was judged nonadherent, 62% had coronary events. Less than 1% of adherent subjects experienced an adverse event.
Together, these studies show that in a group of extraordinarily motivated study subjects, coronary lesions can undergo regression with a multi-interventional approach including profound diet changes and sometimes other lifestyle interventions. These aren’t miracle diets. It’s an entire dramatic change in lifestyle.
Thanks for the information, I had not found this. I signed up for their newsletter. I’m on a Whole Foods Plant Based diet, but struggling with the “no oil, no salt” part. The crazy thing is, I joined some cardiac disease Facebook groups, and people are claiming to do well on the Keto diet. That seems like the opposite of what we should be eating.
Keto is the worst thing for your heart. That is good that you are whole food plant based. You can look up some of Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and Dr. ornish's videos. Here's a great video from Dr. Esselstyn on reversing heart disease: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGU4fcgt9UI&t=1149s