Sunday, November 26, 2006

Book Review

The following book review is on Amazon, where the book is also found on sale. I heartily recommend it.

Heart Frauds: Uncovering the Biggest Health Scam in History by Charles T., M.D. McGee
Edition: Paperback
Price: $16.00
Availability: In Stock

8 used & new from $13.30

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:

Everyone over 35years old should read this book!, October 29, 2006
I graduated medical school over 10 years ago, even then, Cardiothoracic surgeons and Cardiologists have always been at the top of the hiearchy in hospitals. This is due to both money and machismo. Several facts always troubled me; everything from the patients who had heart attacks despite normal cholesterol, to the inconsistent findings seen on angiogram, to the cognitive defects seen following surgery.

Well, McGee's book cites multiple studies showing there is little correlation between cholesterol and heart disease. Before reading the book, I had only read the studies justifying the use of statin drugs. It seemed strange to me that so much pathology was tied in to a molecule which is needed by your body to make hormones and components of brain tissue.

McGee points out lack of inter and intra-rater relliability in reading angiograms, which is used as the main study to determine what type of treatment will follow, the most invasive being open heart surgery. Well, it turns out that angioplasty and/or cardiac bypass don't prolong life.

Many cardiologists that I know have become wealthy using the following algorhythm: use statins to lower cholesterol. This doesn't work to decrease heart disease, so they probably won't lose them as patients. After a heart attack or the onset of angina, do an angiogram. Well, angiograms aren't reliable, so they can read into it whatever pathology they want. Eventually, they'll do an angioplasty based on an unreliable angiogram, this won't stop angina, so they'll throw in some stents. Eventually, the cardiologist will have billed all the procedures he can. Time to send them off to the heart surgeon. They'll get a 2-5 vessel bypass costing 50-100k. By this time the patient is probably broke. Despite all the worry, pain of getting procedures, and cost, the patient will have the same lifespan as he would have had had he stayed away from cardiologists (except perhaps in the acute phase of the heart attack).

What I tell my family members is stop smoking, eat a pound of fresh vegetables a day, lean meats with lots of oily fish, exercise at least 30 minutes most days of the week, take Vitamin B-6 to lower homocysteine, and when your doctor wants to measure your cholesterol, tell them "no thanks". Short of an acute infarct, stay away from cardiologists, especially the ones who describe themselves as "interventionalists", since invariably this will lead to a series of gradually more invasive procedures.

I didn't give 5 stars due to some of the cartoons in the book. I didn't think the cartoons fit in with the same scientific tone of the text.

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