Dr. Gray's Straight Talk

Honest and blunt healthcare discussion and advice.

Posts Tagged ‘stroke’

Cholesterol Meds… Yes or No?

Posted by Dr. Gray on Wednesday, April 8, 2015

As a chiropractor, nutritionist, and acupuncturist, I often get questions from my patients that, I think, are designed to pit my answer against that of their medical doctor. Let me start this by stating that I don’t think this is the way we should approach these kinds of questions. Your health care team should all be questioned with an open mind, and their answers considered, before making an informed health decision. Your health care professionals all come from different backgrounds, philosophies, and different specialties. Take advantage of the knowledge you are paying them for, and make the decision that is best for YOU. Don’t forget, the original Latin term for doctor referred to “teacher,” not dictator. Your health, methods of treatment, and all activities and decisions that affect your outcomes are your choice… and responsibility.

I’ve said for years that with prescription rights, statin medications are the one class of pharmaceuticals that I would never consider prescribing for my patients. However, with further research, my position has changed… slightly. First, we must define what is our purpose for considering statin use. Is it to lower cholesterol? No… cholesterol levels are merely one set of numbers used to evaluate how our body is functioning. The theory is that lowering one’s bad cholesterol levels will decrease one’s risk of death, heart disease or stroke. Therefore, the use of statin medications must be determined based on weighing how well it achieves those goals versus the risk of negative effects as a result of taking them.

Ultimately, the decision lies with the patient and I feel it would be my responsibility to clearly define the pros and cons of statin use. For example, I would point out that 1 of every 50 people who use statins develop diabetes. I would also point out that 1 in 10 develop muscle damage (rhabdomyolysis). About 1 of every 100 develop significant liver damage. Those are pretty strong negatives.

Now for the examination of proven benefits… For those with no history of heart disease,

  • 98% saw no benefit
  • 0% were helped by being saved from death
  • 0.96% were helped by preventing a heart attack
  • 0.65% were helped by preventing a stroke

For those with known heart disease,

  • 96% saw no benefit
  • 1.2% were helped by being saved from death
  • 2.6% were helped by preventing a repeat heart attack
  • 0.8% were helped by preventing a stroke

As a public health measure, this suggests that statins may have an identifiable effect, because while the chances of any one individual being affected are small (19 out of 20 people who took the drugs for five years saw no effect), when one million people who already have a history of heart disease take them roughly 45,000 people saw some benefit, while another 6,000 may see a harm.

Dr. Stephanie Seneff, a senior scientist at MIT, believes statins should never be given to anyone, but being generous one might justify the only two subgroups of people that might benefit from statins as:

  • Those at very high risk of heart attack (based NOT on your cholesterol levels, but on your heart attack risk factors)
  • Those born with a genetic defect called familial hypercholesterolemia, as this makes you resistant to traditional measures of normalizing cholesterol

If you are not in one of those two categories, statin drugs are likely an unnecessary health risk you’re better off avoiding — and you definitely want to avoid the trap of taking them to lower your cholesterol when your cholesterol is actually well within a healthy range.

A better question would be: What are the alternatives to statins that will optimize my cholesterol levels and decrease my risk of heart disease, and stroke?

The most effective way to optimize your cholesterol profile and prevent heart disease is via diet and exercise. It’s actually quite simple too, as 75 percent of your cholesterol is produced by your liver, which is influenced by your insulin levels. Therefore, if you optimize your insulin level, you will automatically optimize your cholesterol and lower your risk of heart disease at the same time.

The primary recommendations for safely regulating your cholesterol, without the need for statin drugs that may damage your liver and your heart, include:

  • Reduce, with the plan of eliminating grains and fructose from your diet. This is the number one way to optimize your insulin levels, which will have a positive effect on not just your cholesterol, but also reduces your risk of diabetes and heart disease, and most other chronic diseases. Use a nutrition plan to help you determine the ideal diet for you, and consume a good portion of your food raw.
  • There is also very good evidence that following a “Mediterranean Diet” (interesting because this diet emphasizes whole grains… be sure to choose the particular nutritional plan that fits for your metabolism) is more successful at normalizing cholesterol levels and decreasing heart disease than using statin medications, and achieves it without any negative effects.
  • Get plenty of high quality, animal-based omega 3 fats, such as krill oil, and reduce your consumption of damaged omega-6 fats (trans fats, vegetable oils) to balance out your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio.
  • Include heart-healthy foods in your diet, such as olive oil, coconut and coconut oil, organic raw dairy products and eggs, avocados, raw nuts and seeds, and organic grass-fed meats.
  • Exercise daily. Make sure you incorporate peak fitness exercises, which also optimizes your human growth hormone (HGH) production.
  • Avoid smoking or drinking alcohol excessively.
  • Be sure to get plenty of good, restorative sleep.

– Dr. Gray


Posted in General Health, Nutrition, Prescription Medicines | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Cholesterol and Saturated Fat Myth

Posted by Dr. Gray on Thursday, July 15, 2010

Did you know a leading heart surgeon is calling for a ban on butter? Seriously! He explains that obesity and rising rates of heart disease are because children are starting out the day with toast and butter. Okay… are you ready for it? Say it with me folks: FOLLOW THE MONEY! Turns out, this “respected authority” is associated with a major manufacturer of … margarine. Don’t you just love it when they make it this easy? A great question posed by contributing editor Jon Herring of Total Health Breakthroughs was, “Why the butter and not the toast? Two slices of bread contain the equivalent carbohydrates of five teaspoons of sugar. And elevated blood sugar has been directly associated with heart disease.”

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times… Cholesterol levels and saturated fats DO NOT correlate to the risk for heart disease! In fact, if you’ll recall, I previously wrote about the Framingham Heart Study which showed that after the age of 50 (when 90% of all heart attacks occur), lower cholesterol levels are clearly associated with a shorter life expectancy. I recently came across an article written by Mr. Herring titled The Greatest Scam in Medical History. Since he’s already done the hard work, I’ll credit him and repost a portion of his article here (emphasis and notations are mine). The entire article he’s written is worth the read, so click the link and check it out when you get a chance.

There have been about 30 long-term population studies that have attempted to link saturated fat to heart disease. Of those, only four have shown even the weakest association. And all four had major disqualifications: they were either too small to be significant, they did not isolate the variables properly, or they showed a slight decrease in heart deaths but an increase in death due to cancer.

But population studies are notoriously unreliable anyway. The gold standard among health studies are controlled, randomized trials. And not a single study of this nature has ever shown definitive evidence that saturated-fat consumption leads to heart disease. In fact, many have shown the exact opposite!

Authors of the MR-FIT trial were determined to prove the case. They enrolled 350,000 men, all of whom were considered at high risk of heart disease. In one set of participants, cholesterol consumption was reduced by 42%, saturated fat by 28%, and total calories by 21%.

What happened? Nothing. The authors referred to the results as “disappointing,” stating that “The overall results do not show a beneficial effect on Coronary Heart Disease or total mortality from this multifactor intervention.”

The Women’s Health Initiative was a huge government study, costing almost three quarters of a billion dollars. Among 20,000 women in the study who adhered to a diet low saturated fat diet for eight years, there was no reduction in the rates of heart-disease or stroke.

Then there was the Cochrane Collaboration, in 2000. This group rigorously selected 27 low-fat and cholesterol-lowering trials to review (more than 200 trials were rejected). Their conclusion was that diets low in saturated fat have “no significant effect” on heart attack mortality. Lead researcher Lee Hooper, PhD, said “I was disappointed that we didn’t find something more definitive.”

Or how about something more recent?

This month, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a review of 21 studies. The studies ranged from 5 to 23 years in length and encompassed 347,747 subjects. In the authors’ own words: “Intake of saturated fat was not associated with an increased risk of CHD [coronary heart disease], stroke, or CVD [cerebrovascular disease].”

In 1988, U.S. Surgeon General’s office decided to end the confusion. They set out to finally prove the causal link between saturated fat and heart disease. After 11 years, the project was abandoned. The Surgeon General’s office stated that they, “did not anticipate fully the magnitude of the additional external expertise and staff resources that would be needed.” Sure! After more than a decade of trying, the government just “just didn’t have the resources.”

Scientists and researchers are supposed to have an open mind. They are not supposed to be dogmatic and swayed by politics and peer pressure. But that is exactly what the majority of scientists and doctors have proven of themselves. It is not terribly surprising. Massive industries and shining scientific careers have been built on this faulty theory.

If it were not so tragic, it would be funny to listen to them explain away contradictory findings and make excuses for why their studies don’t match their hoped-for conclusions. The most common excuses are that the “trial didn’t last long enough” or they “didn’t lower the saturated-fat intake enough.” It seems that option number three never crosses their mind… perhaps the entire hypothesis is wrong!

Uffe Ravnskov, MD, PhD has called the saturated fat theory of heart disease “one of the greatest and most harmful misconceptions in the history of medicine.” Dr. George Mann called it the “public health diversion of the century.”

And the problem is not just the wasted time and billions of dollars dedicated to an unscientific myth. The bigger problem is that undue focus on the saturated fat bugaboo has stolen attention from the REAL causes of heart disease. And perhaps even worse, is that many of the dietary recommendations to reduce heart disease have actually been shown to CAUSE heart disease (not to mention cancer, diabetes and obesity).

If you truly want to protect yourself from the nation’s number one killer, don’t smoke and reduce your stress levels. At least the medical authorities have gotten those two right. And when it comes to your diet, forget about saturated fat and cholesterol. Here is what you should do instead:

• Consume more monounsaturated fats from sources like olive oil, nuts, avocados and avocado oil

• Cut out the sugar and refined carbohydrates

• Consume more omega-3 fatty acids, from wild game, grass-fed beef and bison, sardines and wild (not farm-raised) salmon. And take an omega-3 fish oil supplement.

• And reduce as much as possible omega-6 fatty acids in your diet. These come primarily from conventionally raised meats, processed foods, fried foods and vegetable and seed oils (corn, soybean, sunflower, cottonseed, etc.)

Posted in General Health, Nutrition, Prescription Medicines | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Does Chiropractic Care Cause Strokes?

Posted by Dr. Gray on Thursday, September 11, 2008

Over the past several years, there has been a concerted effort by certain industries to give the impression that chiropractic care in the neck is dangerous. Obviously, the majority of these efforts can be traced back to individuals or industries who have a financial interest in taking patients away from chiropractic care, or in making chiropractic look bad. The point is, don’t believe everything you read and ask yourself, “Who has my best interest in mind?” Remember… follow the money.

Many of you who are patients of mine, or are patients of other chiropractors, have heard me discuss this issue many times. I have told you, and provided independent evidence and research articles, that the risk of having a stroke following a chiropractic is about 1 in a million. Well… I was wrong. The risk is actually 1 in 5.85 million!

Let’s put that in perspective. According to the National Safety Council, your odds of dying from tripping or stumbling is 1 in 6,455. Yours odds of dying by accidental drowning in your bathtub is 1 in 9,377. Your odds of dying due to the ignition or melting of your nightwear is 1 in 538,523. Your odds of dying from a lightning strike is 1 in 81,949. However, a research paper published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found there is only a 1 in 5,850,000 risk that a chiropractic neck adjustment will cause a stroke. This means that you are seventy times more likely to die from a lightning strike than you are likely to have a vascular event after manipulation.

New findings published recently in the prestigious medical research journal, Spine, found that patients are no more likely to suffer a stroke following a visit to a chiropractor than they would after stepping into their family doctor’s office. In fact, it mentioned that you are just as likely to suffer a stroke if you turn your head to check traffic while driving.

“We didn’t see any increased association between chiropractic care and usual family physician care, and the stroke,” said Frank Silver, one of the researchers and also a professor of medicine at the University of Toronto and director of the University Health Network stroke program. “The association occurs because patients tend to seek care when they’re having neck pain or headache, and sometimes they go to a chiropractor, sometimes they go to a physician. But we didn’t see an increased likelihood of them having this type of stroke after seeing a chiropractor.” The conclusions of the report basically state that the stroke or damaged artery has most likely already occurred… that’s why the patient sought treatment with the physician.

Well, I thought this was going to be a short little blurb. Sorry, I’ve run on too long. I just want to reiterate the importance of putting things in perspective. “News” stories and stuff on the television are driven by money, and the billion$ being spent on advertising. Do your own research, think for yourself, and you’ll be able to see through many of the myths that are being fed to you through the media.

Posted in General Back Pain, General Chiropractic, General Health, Headaches, Neck Pain, Other Pain Conditions | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Another Reason To Eat Your Veggies!

Posted by Dr. Gray on Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Remember when your mother used to tell you to eat your vegetables because they were good for you? You might not have liked it, but increasing research shows just how right she was. The latest example: A study suggests that eating a healthy dose of vegetables each day is good for you by helping to prevent atherosclerosis, which in turn can reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and other disorders.

In this study, researchers looked at the relationship between vegetables and atherosclerosis in a group of genetically altered mice. For 16 weeks, half of the mice were fed a diet in which 30 percent of the calories came from a mixture of broccoli, green beans, peas, corn and carrots. The rest of the mice consumed a diet free of vegetables. At the end of the study period, researchers found that, compared to the mice that didn’t eat any vegetables, the buildup of atherosclerosis was 38 percent less in the group of mice that ate the vegetable diet. In addition, blood cholesterol levels were 32 percent lower, and the mice in the vegetable diet group weighed an average of 7 percent less.

If you’re at risk of developing atherosclerosis, now might be the time to consider changing your diet to include more vegetables like the ones included in this study. Doctors of chiropractic are also well-versed in nutrition and can help create a diet program that increases your consumption of vegetables, fruits and other foods that are good for you.

Adams MR, Golden DL, Chen H, et al. A diet rich in green and yellow vegetables inhibits atherosclerosis in mice. Journal of Nutrition July 2006;136:1886-1889.

Posted in General Health, Nutrition | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Do Medical Doctors and Chiropractic Doctors Get Along?

Posted by Dr. Gray on Friday, August 15, 2008

Although relationships are changing, and I have personally experienced a large number of medical referrals, many of you are aware that MD’s and DC’s have not always seen eye to eye. Have you ever wondered why that is? The history of disagreement and animosity between the medical establishment and the chiropractic community is long and nasty. However, for most, it has become a Hatfield vs. McCoy scenario where the actual participants don’t really know why they’re supposed to hate each other!

Ultimately, the original battle began as… yup, a turf war. As with most conflicts throughout history, it all came down to ‘the almighty dollar.’ No one knows who threw the first punch, but the powers that be have been battling ever since. The emerging medical advancements and pharmaceutical industry of the early 20th century saw chiropractic as a competing faction. Advancements at that time were focused on new drugs and new surgeries… and along came chiropractic whose primary tenet was ‘treatment without drugs and without surgery.’ With diametrically opposed viewpoints, there was bound to be some fireworks.

Individual doctors argued mostly with each other based on their beliefs of what was right for the patient. As time went on, and our country went through the first world war, it became increasingly clear that there was an underlying conflict where doctors were vying for their piece of the health care dollar. Enter… the politicians. Charismatic representatives, and association heads, whose sole purpose was to increase the financial health of one faction at the expense of the other… regardless of patient outcomes. Now the money men were directing and guiding health care opinion.

It’s at this point that I think the chiropractic community started recognizing that the battle was not constructive, and that patient care was suffering because of it. It probably helped that they also realized there was no way they could fight the money that medicine and the pharmaceutical industry could throw at them.

The medical community wasn’t so quick to give up the battle. Instead of backing off, cooperating with, or joining with chiropractors, they chose to go on the offensive. They began a systematic attack on the chiropractic profession designed to ridicule and minimize the safety and effectiveness of chiropractic treatment. This history of attack and false advertisement culminated with the Wilkes case that settled in the Supreme Court in 1992. That case found the AMA guilty of conspiring against chiropractic under anti-trust laws. To this day, most consumers are unaware that the “idea” that chiropractors are quacks was purposefully, illegally, underhandedly, and cleverly crafted and promoted by the AMA.

A good article and detail of the history of the attack on chiropractic by the AMA is located here. Read through that article and learn why your medical doctor has been largely unaware of what chiropractic is and what it is capable of. Evidence of continuing attacks is evident even today. How many of us have heard of the dangers of stroke after chiropractic manipulation? Then ask yourself, how many have heard of the two studies ( here and here) that proved you are no more at risk to stroke after a chiropractic visit than you are after a medical visit?… or a visit to the beauty salon for that matter?!

7,600 people die each year just from the use of anti-inflammatory drugs (like ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, and aspirin). 32,000 people die each year from adverse reactions to prescription medications. There is a one in 5,585,000 (that’s one for every five million five hundred eighty-five thousand) chance that you’ll have a negative cerebrovascular event after manipulation of the neck. In the past 113 years, there have been thirteen deaths related to manipulation of the neck. Only three… yes, that’s three, 1, 2, 3 have been related to manipulation of the neck by a chiropractor. Yet, the media and the medical industry would have you believe that chiropractic is “too dangerous.”

In short, do medical doctors and chiropractic doctors get along? Yes! I have developed a strong working relationship with many of the local medical doctors, and they refer patients to me regularly. Those doctors who have put politics and money aside, and have chosen instead to focus on the benefits to the patient, have begun to cooperate effectively. Now, you can find medical doctors and chiropractic doctors sharing the same office and working together to give the patient the best possible results with the least cost, time, and side effects.

Yes, individual medical doctors and chiropractic doctors are cooperating for the benefit of the patient. However, the major organizations (including the AMA, the pharmaceutical industry, and some chiropractic organizations) are still loyal to their members, and are focused solely on the financial security of those members. If you experience a chiropractic doctor, or a medical doctor, who is opposed to communicating or cooperating with your other health care professionals, ask yourself what their motivation is for making that decision. If you read a story that gives a negative report about, or raises questions about, either industry, please take the time to find out who wrote the piece and what their motivation was (or who paid them) to write the piece.

Posted in Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, General Back Pain, General Chiropractic, General Health, Headaches, Herniated/"Slipped" Discs, Low Back Pain, Neck Pain, Nutrition, Other Pain Conditions, Prescription Medicines | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

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