Think Twice Before Heart Artery Stenting or Bypass

Heart attacks and chest pains are linked to blocked arteries in the heart

Doctors are often criticised for over-using coronary artery angioplasty/stenting and coronary artery bypass grafting.

From Stanford Medicine:

Patients with severe but stable heart disease who are treated with medications and lifestyle advice alone are no more at risk of a heart attack or death than those who undergo invasive surgical procedures, according to a large, federally-funded clinical trial led by researchers at the Stanford School of Medicine and New York University’s medical school.

The trial did show, however, that among patients with coronary artery disease who also had symptoms of angina — chest pain caused by restricted blood flow to the heart — treatment with invasive procedures, such as stents or bypass surgery, was more effective at relieving symptoms and improving quality of life. “For patients with severe but stable heart disease who don’t want to undergo these invasive procedures, these results are very reassuring,” said David Maron, MD, clinical professor of medicine and director of preventive cardiology at the Stanford School of Medicine, and co-chair of the trial, called ISCHEMIA, for International Study of Comparative Health Effectiveness with Medical and Invasive Approaches.

***

“Based on our results, we recommend that all patients take medications proven to reduce risk of heart attack, be physically active, eat a healthy diet and quit smoking,” Maron said. “Patients without angina will not see an improvement, but those with angina of any severity will tend to have a greater, lasting improvement in quality of life if they have an invasive heart procedure. They should talk with their physicians to decide whether to undergo revascularization.”

Source: Stents, bypass surgery show no benefit in heart disease mortality rates among stable patients | News Center | Stanford Medicine

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: The Mediterranean diet is a healthy diet, reduces the risk of heart disease, and you can even lose weight with it!

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Not Into Salads? Try This!

Salad and cheese

Jan over at Low Carb Diabetic has a great post on building a salad from the ground up.

“Salads make a nutritious and satisfying meal, whether it’s for lunch or dinner. The best part is that no two salads are exactly the same. There are limitless ways to make salad unique and flavourful. Get some tips for what to add to your next salad….”

Source: The Low Carb Diabetic: Super Salads – Some Tips for Building A Better Salad

Click for my nutritional assessment of various salad greens. Variety is also important.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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One Expert’s Anti-Aging Program

dementia, memory loss, Mediterranean diet, low-carb diet, glycemic index, dementia memory loss

“Darling, think about upping your NMN dose.”

The goal isn’t simply to live longer, but to be vigorous and functional for longer.

David Sinclair is a PhD professor and researcher at Harvard. Harriet Hall, M.D., reviewed his 2019 anti-aging book at Science-Based Medicine. Here’s his current anti-aging regimen as outlined by Dr Hall:

He makes no recommendations for others except “Eat fewer calories”, “Don’t sweat the small stuff”, and “Exercise”.

But he argues that if he does nothing, he will age and die, so he has nothing to lose by trying unproven treatments, and he has personally chosen to do these things:

    • He takes a gram each of NMN [nicotinamide mononucleotide] resveratrol, and metformin daily.
    • He takes vitamin D, vitamin K2, and 83 mg. aspirin.
    • He limits sugar, bread, and pasta intake, doesn’t eat desserts, and avoids eating meat from animals.
    • He skips one meal a day.
    • He gets frequent blood tests to monitor biomarkers; if not optimal, he tries to moderate them with food and exercise.
    • He stays active, goes to the gym, jogs, lifts weights, uses the sauna and then dunks in an ice-cold pool.
    • He doesn’t smoke.
    • He avoids microwaved plastic, excessive UV exposure, X-rays, and CT scans.
    • He tries to keep environmental temperatures on the cool side.
    • He maintains a BMI of 23-25 [click to calculate your BMI].

He plans to fine-tune his regimen as research evolves. He acknowledges “It’s impossible to say if my regimen is working…but it doesn’t seem to be hurting.” He says he feels the same at 50 as he did at 30.

Source: Aging: Is It a Preventable Disease? – Science-Based Medicine

For additional science-based info on anti-aging, see P.D. Mangan’s blog.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Takine BP Meds at Bedtime Prevents Cardiovascular Events

High blood pressure is linked to heart attacks

Very recently I have noticed hypertension patients taking their medications at bedtime. Now I know why.

From Medscape:

Taking antihypertensive medication at bedtime led to an almost halving of cardiovascular events in a new study.

The Hygia Chronotherapy Trial is the largest ever study to investigate the effect of the time of day when people take their antihypertensive medication on the risk of cardiovascular events.

The trial randomly assigned 19,084 patients to take their medication on waking or at bedtime and followed them for an average of 6 years.Results showed that patients who took their pills at bedtime had a 45% reduction in overall cardiovascular events. This included a 56% reduction in cardiovascular death, a 34% reduction in myocardial infarction (MI), a 40% reduction in coronary revascularization [bypass surgery and angioplasty/stenting], a 42% reduction in heart failure, and a 49% reduction in stroke, all of which were statistically significant.

***

“We showed that if blood pressure is elevated during sleep then patients have increased cardiovascular risk regardless of daytime pressure, and if blood pressure during sleep is normal then cardiovascular risk is low even if the [doctor’s] office pressure is elevated,” Hermida said.

***

Results showed that during the 6.3-year median patient follow-up, 1752 participants experienced the primary cardiovascular disease (CVD) outcome (a composite of CVD death, MI, coronary revascularization, heart failure, or stroke).

Drug classes at physicians’ disposal were ARBs (angiotensin receptor blockers), calcium channel blockers, ACE inhibitors, and diuretics. Preventative effects were most pronounced for ARBs and ACE inhibitors.

Don’t change your BP medication dosing until you check with your personal physician.

Source: Bedtime Dosing of Hypertension Meds Reduces CV Events

Did you know most heart attacks occur in the morning, and those tend to be the most serious?

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: Exercise and loss of excess weight help control blood pressure and prevent cardiovascular disease. I can help you with those…

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Science Skepticism

 

“You can’t tell whether I’m lying, delusional, ignorant, or simply incompetent. Sometimes even I don’t know!”

I ran across a 2016 article by Callie Joubert that summarizes skeptical ideas I’ve read about for years, but most people and physicians don’t know about. Bottom line: scientific research and medical studies aren’t nearly as reliable as you think.

Read the whole thing, but here are some excerpts:

We tend to think of science as a dispassionate (impartial, neutral) search for truth and certainty. But is it possible that we are facing a situation in which there is a massive production of wrong information or distortion of information? Is it possible that certain scientific disciplines are facing a crisis of credibility? Mounting evidence suggests this is indeed the case, which raises two questions: How serious is the problem? And what could explain this?

***

The title of an editorial in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet, dated April 6, 2002, asks the question, “Just How Tainted Has Medicine Become?”4 The article states, “Heavily, and damagingly so, is the answer.” Among other things, in 2001, researchers completed experiments with biotechnology products in which they had a direct financial interest and doctors did not tell their patients that others had died using these products when safer alternatives were available. In the same journal, dated April 11, 2015, Dr. Richard Horton stated the gravity of the problem as follows: “The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue . . . science has taken a turn towards darkness.”

In 2004, under the heading of “Depressing Research,” the editor of The Lancet had this to say about antidepressants for children: “The story of research into selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) use in childhood depression is one of confusion, manipulation, and institutional failure. . . . In a global medical culture where evidence-based practice is seen as the gold standard for care, these failings [i.e., of the USA Food and Drug Administration to act on information provided to them about the harmful effects of these drugs on children] are a disaster.”6 After being editor of the New England Journal of Medicine for 20 years, Dr. Marcia Angell stated that “physicians can no longer rely on the medical literature for valid and reliable information.”7 She referred to a study of 74 clinical trials of antidepressants that indicates that 37 of 38 positive studies were published. In contrast, 33 of the 36 negative studies were either not published or published in a form that conveyed a positive outcome. She also mentions the fact that drug companies are financing “most clinical research on the prescription drugs, and there is mounting evidence that they often skew the research they sponsor to make their drugs look better and safer.”

In 2011, researchers at Bayer decided to test 67 recent drug discoveries on preclinical cancer biology research. In more than 75 percent of cases, the published data did not match their attempts to replicate them.8 In 2012, a study published in Nature announced that only 11 percent of the sampled preclinical cancer studies coming out of the academic pipeline were replicable.9

In the prestigious Science journal, in 2015, the Open Science Collaboration10 presented a study of 100 psychological research studies that 270 contributing authors tried to replicate. An astonishing 65 percent failed to show any statistical significance on replication, and many of the remainder showed greatly reduced effect sizes. In plain terms, evidence for original findings is weak.

***

A discovery in physics, the hardest of all hard sciences, is usually thought of as the most reliable in the world of science. However, two of the most vaunted physics results of the past few years—“cosmic inflation and gravitational waves at the BICEP2 experiment in Antarctica, and the supposed discovery of superluminal neutrinos at the Swiss-Italian border—have now been retracted, with far less fanfare than when they were first published.”

***

Parker here again….

The science skeptic best known to physicians is John P.A. Ioannidis:

Empirical evidence from diverse fields suggests that when efforts are made to repeat or reproduce published research, the repeatability and reproducibility is dismal.

Another quote form Ioannidis:

There is increasing concern that most current published research findings are false. The probability that a research claim is true may depend on study power and bias, the number of other studies on the same question, and, importantly, the ratio of true to no relationships among the relationships probed in each scientific field. In this framework, a research finding is less likely to be true when the studies conducted in a field are smaller; when effect sizes are smaller; when there is a greater number and lesser preselection of tested relationships; where there is greater flexibility in designs, definitions, outcomes, and analytical modes; when there is greater financial and other interest and prejudice; and when more teams are involved in a scientific field in chase of statistical significance. Simulations show that for most study designs and settings, it is more likely for a research claim to be false than true. Moreover, for many current scientific fields, claimed research findings may often be simply accurate measures of the prevailing bias.

Ioannidis again:

Most physicians and other healthcare professionals are unaware of the pervasiveness of poor quality clinical evidence that contributes considerably to overuse, underuse, avoidable adverse events, missed opportunities for right care and wasted healthcare resources. The Medical Misinformation Mess comprises four key problems. First, much published medical research is not reliable or is of uncertain reliability, offers no benefit to patients, or is not useful to decision makers. Second, most healthcare professionals are not aware of this problem. Third, they also lack the skills necessary to evaluate the reliability and usefulness of medical evidence. Finally, patients and families frequently lack relevant, accurate medical evidence and skilled guidance at the time of medical decision‐making.

If you like videos, here’s Ioannidis on YouTube.

Staying skeptical,

Steve Parker, M.D.

h/t Vox Day

 

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Do Certain Diabetes Drugs Protect the Heart and Kidneys?

 

Blood pressure control is also extremely important for protection of heart and kidneys

I’ve been reticent to tout the putative heart-protective effects of diabetes drugs in the classes called SGLT2 inhibitors and GLP-1 receptor agonists. Frankly, their supposed kidney-protective effects haven’t even been on my radar. My hesitation to report on these matters stems from:

Maybe if Big Pharma sent me a nice check….

The GLP-1 receptor agonists seem to have beneficial effects on both heart and kidney. With SGLT2 inhibitors, renal benefits may be more prominent than cardiac. Also note that any beneficial heart or renal effects may be attributable only to certain drug within the class, and not a class effect.

For what it’s worth, the American Diabetes Association recently hosted a conference on these issues. I assume the ADA endorses the report written by three experts, two of whom have received some sort of compensation from pharmaceutical companies. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are biased. Some excerpts:

Since patients with diabetes are at increased risk for CV [cardiovascular] and renal events, reducing the risk of these events is of primary interest to improve outcomes in the long-term. [Cardiovascular events usually refers to heart attacks, strokes, and death from those. Renal events would be high loss of protein through the kidneys, impaired kidney function or chronic kidney disease, or the need for dialysis.]

SGLT2 inhibitors and GLP-1 RAs have dramatically changed the treatment landscape of type 2 diabetes due to their established CV benefits, and the observed improvements in renal function seen with these classes of agents are currently undergoing intense investigation.

***

It is now apparent that both SGLT2 inhibitors and GLP-1 RAs show consistent reductions in major adverse cardiovascular events for patients with established cardiovascular (CV) disease, and both appear to have renal benefits as well.

***

The nephron is the microscopic structural and functional unit of the kidney.

Renal effects of GLP-1 receptor agonists

These drugs may exert their beneficial actions on the kidneys through their effects on lowering blood glucose and blood pressure and by reducing the levels of insulin.

For GLP-1RAs, these [studies] include ELIXA with lixisenatide, LEADER with liraglutide, SUSTAIN-6 with semaglutide, EXCSEL with exenatide once-weekly, HARMONY with albiglutide, and REWIND with dulaglutide.

All these studies indicate that albuminuria [protein loss through urine] is reduced during treatment with GLP-1 RAs, and eGFR [estimated glomerular filtration rate, a measure of kidney function] appears to be stabilized.

These benefits are seen independently of HbA1c, weight, and blood pressure variations.

***

Heart attack is only one type of cardiovascular event

Cardiovascular effects of GLP-1 receptor agonists

Large CV outcomes trials with GLP-1 RAs have shown that these agents can reduce the risk of major adverse CV events, CV mortality, and all-cause mortality.

These CV benefits appear to be related to four distinct mechanisms:

    • Improve myocardial [heart muscle] performance in ischemic heart failure [caused by poor blood flow to heart]
    • Improve myocardial survival in ischemic heart disease
    • Ameliorate endothelial dysfunction [endothelium is the lining of arteries]
    • Decrease markers of CV risk.

***

Renal effects of SGLT2 inhibitors

  • However, many potential mechanisms have been linked to the renoprotective effects of SGLT2 inhibitors.
  • These include reduction of blood pressure, improved metabolic parameters, reduced volume overload, reduction in albuminuria, and glomerular pressure.
  • For the latter, SGLT2 inhibition appears to reduce hyperfiltration via a tubuloglomerular feedback mechanism.
  • Clinical data from CV outcomes trials have shown consistent variations in eGFR and reduction in death from renal causes with empagliflozin, canagliflozin, and dapagliflozin.
  • However, to gain more information about the renal effects of these agents, dedicated renal outcomes trials are needed to study reductions in albuminuria, changes in eGFR, number of patients reaching end-stage renal disease, need for dialysis, and deaths due to kidney failure.

***

Key Messages from the authors

Large CV outcomes trials have shown that both SGLT2 inhibitors and GLP-1 RAs are associated with significant reductions in CV events in patients with elevated CV risk.

From CV outcomes trials both classes of agents also appear to have renal benefits, although large dedicated studies are needed to establish the magnitude of this potential benefit

The mechanism of action at the basis of CV and renal benefits of SGLT2 inhibitors and GLP-1 RAs is complex, multifactorial, and still not completely understood.

 

I’m still skeptical but will keep an open mind.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: Bold emphasis above is mine.

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ADA Nutrition Conference in 2019: Low-Carb Eating on the Rise

Spaghetti squash with parsley, olive oil, snow peas, garlic, salt, pepper

I’m astounded by how many people with diabetes I meet who pretty much eat whatever they want. Others, when I ask if they’re on a particular diet, say, “I watch what I eat.” Which usually just means avoiding obvious sugar bombs.

The American Diabetes Association in 2019 hosted a conference on nutrition therapy for diabetes. I assume the ADA endorses the panel’s recommendations. The big news is continued movement toward carb-restricted eating. Some excerpts:

Today, there is strong evidence to support both the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of nutrition therapy as a key component of integrated management of individuals with diabetes. This is increasingly relevant as it is evident that “one-size-fits-all” eating plan is not suitable for prevention or management of diabetes, also considering diverse cultural backgrounds, personal preferences, comorbidities, and socioeconomic settings. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) is now emphasizing that medical nutrition therapy (MNT) is fundamental for optimal diabetes management, and the new report also includes information on prediabetes.

***

One of the key recommendations is to refer adults living with type 1 or type 2 diabetes to individualized, diabetes-focused MNT [medical nutrition therapy] at diagnosis and as needed throughout the life span, particularly during times of changing health status to achieve treatment goals.

           ***

The new consensus recommendations consider that a variety of eating patterns are acceptable for the management of diabetes.

In the absence of additional strong evidence on the comparative benefits of different eating patterns in specific individuals, healthcare providers should focus on the key factors that are common among the patterns, including emphasizing non-starchy vegetables, minimizing added sugars and refined grains, and preferring whole foods over highly processed foods.

Reducing overall carbohydrate intake for individuals with diabetes is associated with the most evidence for improving glycemia and may be applied in a variety of eating patterns.

For selected adults with type 2 diabetes who are not meeting glycemic targets or where reducing anti-glycemic medications is a priority, reducing overall carbohydrate intake with low or very low carbohydrate eating plans is also a viable approach.

***

Regarding weight loss in overweight or obese folks with diabetes or prediabetes:

…a low carbohydrate diet is now recognized as a safe, viable, and important option for patients with diabetes, and the other is that greater emphasis is now placed on weight loss in patients who are overweight/obese for the prevention of diabetes and its treatment.

Indeed, in type 2 diabetes, 5% weight loss is recommended to achieve clinical benefits, with a goal of 15%, when feasible and safe, in order to achieve optimal outcomes.

In prediabetes, the goal is 7–10% for preventing progression to type 2 diabetes.

“Metabolic surgery,” better known as bariatric surgery, and medication-assisted weight loss (aka weight-loss drugs) should be considered in some cases.

***

Best approach for optimizing blood sugars:

For macronutrients, the available evidence suggests that there is not an ideal percentage of calories from carbohydrate, protein, and fat for all people with or at risk for diabetes; therefore, macronutrient distribution should be based on individualized assessment of current eating patterns, preferences, and metabolic goals.

[Self-monitoring of carbohydrate consumption is important.]

People with diabetes and those at risk for diabetes are encouraged to consume at least the amount of dietary fiber recommended for the general population; increasing fiber intake, preferably through food (vegetables, pulses (beans, peas, and lentils), fruits, and whole intact grains) or through dietary supplement, may help in modestly lowering HbA1C.

***

What about sugar-sweetened beverages?

Firstly, sugar-sweetened beverages should be replaced with water as often as possible.

Secondly, if sugar substitutes are used to reduce overall calorie and carbohydrate intake, people should be counseled to avoid compensating with intake of additional calories from other food sources.

***

Is alcohol forbidden? No.

…educating people with diabetes about the signs, symptoms, and self-management of delayed hypoglycemia after drinking alcohol, especially when using insulin or insulin secretagogues, is recommended.

To reduce hypoglycemia risk, the importance of glucose monitoring after drinking alcohol beverages should be emphasized.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: I note that William Yancy, M.D., was on the expert panel.

PPS: Bold emphasis above is mine.

low-carb mediterranean diet

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