CNN’s Sanjay Gupta spent an hour on Saturday night promising that heart attacks can be prevented– but never mentioned statins. A good part of the program focuses on former president Bill Clinton and his adoption of a vegan diet– but fails to mention that Clinton stopped taking simvastatin in the years before he underwent bypass surgery.
I’ve got a secret to share — with what we know right now we could see the last heart attack in America. I’ve been investigating this for over a year. I’ve got lessons to share, things you need to know, things your doctor may not tell you.
Gupta’s “secret” is basically intense screening with calcium scans, carotid ultrasound, and blood tests for LDL particle size. People at high risk should then follow a radical low-fat diet, along the lines advocated by Dean Ornish, Arthur Agatston, and Caldwell Esselstyn.
Gupta never mentions the lack of a solid evidence base for this program, and never mentions the cost or other risks of screening programs. Calcium scans get a rave review, but there’s no mention of radiation exposure.
Despite his entire year of research on the topic, Gupta somehow missed the wide divergence of opinion about the utility of these screening tests and widespread concerns about the practical barriers to implementing a radical low-fat diet. He never mentions that by most current guidelines a significant proportion of the population should not receive these screening tests.
Gupta almost never asks hard questions of his sources. Agatston makes the following statement but is never asked to supply evidence or confirmation.
One of the best kept secrets in the country in medicine is that doctors who are practicing aggressive prevention are really seeing heart attacks and strokes disappear from their practices. It’s doable.
And then there’s the fear-mongering, which once again goes unchallenged:
Unless you do the imaging and advanced testing, you are really playing Russian roulette with your life. (Agatston)
Hat-tip and more to Marilyn Mann.