Coronary Heart Disease (CAD) Community
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Avatar universal

CT Scan Calcium Score of 1750

Dear Experts,

A year and a half ago my husband (59yo) had a cardiac CT scan.  His total score was very high at 1400.  He immediately went on the Dean Ornish Reversal Diet and cut out ALL oils and fats, went totally vegan and lost 30 lbs (he is 6" and weighs 180).  He was also put on statins right away and Ace Inhibitor for HBP.  He is asymptomatic, no chest pains, or anything else.  At the time he took a stress echo test took it as high and for as long as it would go and it showed no blockages (a year ago), normal result.  He has a genetic predisposition to heart disease, (his father died at an early age of diabetes related heart attack.)

Today, 15 months later, he had another cardiac CT scan and his numbers are now skyrocketing at 1750!  HOw and why would this be?  

One thing he has NOT done is cut down on sugar.  He eats a lot of it. Could this be affecting his numbers?  What can be done to stop the progression of this CAD?  He exercises but not consistently (daily) but is very active regardless.  After over a year of following the Dean Ornish Reversal Diet RELIGIOUSLY, it seems something is very wrong.

Can you please shed some light on what other measures we can take to remedy, or stall this?  

Also, can you recommend a specialist in the Southern California area that can see him?

Thank you,
Carrie, Concerned Wife
6 Responses
976897 tn?1379167602
Hi and I have to say that you've asked a very good and interesting question. I had a heart attack in 2007, aged 46 and my cholesterol was found to be off the scale due to a very hyperactive liver. I was of course put onto statins immediately and my cholesterol shot down to below normal. I went to cardiac rehab and was told about dietary changes. I followed these to the letter and yet I was still needing stents every few months. Nothing I did seemed to stop this disease or slow it down. In 2010 I had another stent making 10 in total and decided to look at all the research done and what different experts were saying. The report I took notice of made sense to me the most because it seemed to align with my lifestyle. I have always been a low fat consumer, but have a VERY sweet tooth. I was eating pounds of sugar a week. What the report basically said is that everyone develops fissures in their arteries, which get repaired. Normal cholesterol lipids are too large to fit into those fissures and cause problems. However, when we over consume processed sugars, the Liver stores them in smaller lipid types which are very sticky. These penetrate the fissures and get stuck. Along come the white blood cells to assist with repairs, and they are pumped full of fat to become macrophages. These gobble up the unwanted small lipids, but the side effect is that they become damaged somehow and don't get their fat removed. Instead, they die in the artery wall, leaving raw fat which oxidises. I cut my sugar levels down as much as possible, removing soda drinks from my diet, cutting out nearly all my chocolate etc. There is no real proven guidelines to how much we should consume, but processed sugar is not good for you. As the report said, have you tried to get sugar out of sugar cane with your bare hands, nature knows it's not good for us in high volume. The Liver treats sugars in fruit in a different way. The other thing I did was to take relaxation classes and learn to recognise stress. I had no idea how stressful I was all the time. Although I gave the impression I was stress free, laid back and always joking, my body was in stress mode virtually all the time. After a few weeks I was wondering what these changes to my lifestyle were doing because I felt no different. I was eating more protein again, less carbs and less sugar. However, I still haven't needed any more stents and feel fine. I know it has only been 3 years, but going from having stents every few months to none has been dramatic. Maybe it was coincidence, who knows, but I'm not going back to that previous lifestyle while things are looking positive.
976897 tn?1379167602
Another thing I would like to add, is that in April last year I unfortunately lost my wife. I basically gave up the will to live and didn't care about anything. I started to smoke again and did so for a whole year. After 6 months I was on 3 packs a day, yes 60 cigarettes a day. It was like I was hoping it would wreck my heart and let me join her. After a year my children managed to convince me to snap out of it, and I quit. So I stopped smoking April this year and to be honest I didn't feel any harm from it. Maybe the damage will come, but that will be told by time.
Avatar universal
First let me say how sorry I am for the loss of your wife.  I completely understand how hard that must be for you.

Thank you so much for sharing your experience and for sharing the information in that report.  It makes complete sense and validates what I have been suspecting all along, that this has been exacerbated by high sugar consumption.

I shared your comments with my husband, and we are going to do some further research into this and cutting out the goodies and sugar.  He started today!

I might add that I am happy to hear you have been holding steady for the last 3 years with the need for more stents.  This has been very helpful to us.

Thank you.
976897 tn?1379167602
It's also interesting that I love dairy products, particularly cheese. As you are probably aware, the French have much less heart issues than the UK and yet they eat mountains of cheese. This was the 'french paradox'. Research 'guessed' it must be the wine they drink, but nothing was proved. Then it was fresh ingredients and olive oil blamed, but again no proof. I then watched an interesting documentary here in the UK where ten volunteers were used that had high cholesterol levels. For a month, they all ate the exact same diets, except half of them had cheese added to each meal. Every day, stool samples and blood tests were taken and analysed. The results shocked everyone. The cheese eaters had a big rise in stool fat, and lower blood cholesterol. On further studies, they found the fat in cheese didn't break down the same as fats found in meat, it turned into a soap like substance which the body couldn't absorb. This also absorbed other fats from meats etc, limiting fat available for the body. When I cut my sugar consumption to a minimum, I started to add cheese to most of my meals. I'm so happy that I can eat cheese :)
Avatar universal
Hello ed, I, too, am sorry to hear about your wife.
I just found out that my calcium score is 1400!!!! Not only that, my doctor told me that the CT scan found "unspecified nodules" in my lungs. He said this is "very common" and I can wait a few months before having a CT scan of my lungs, to see if they change in shape or size--but I am NOT waiting! I am freaking terrified.
I am asymptomatic but that, also, does not make me feel any better. Everything I am reading online tells me you can be asymptomatic and still be at risk for coronary artery disease with a high calcium score.
I have been taking statins for years, since I am a Type 1 diabetic. My cholesterol has always been normal, which, also, does not mean you are not at risk. I exercise every other day, but to be honest, I have sometimes stopped going to the gym for a few months at a time.
I had a stress test in 2010. I made appointments with the cardiologist for THIS Monday and I am having that chest CT on September 30.
976897 tn?1379167602
Please let us know what the results reveal. It's always nice to have feedback, it helps to educate us. I sincerely hope everything goes well.
I have a high calcium score of 1018  (May 2019)  and wanted to know how you all are doing since it looks like it has been ~6 years since your last post. I am very curious as to the diet changes you made and the results.
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