In 1968, Lyndon Johnson announced he would not accept the nomination of his party for another term as president of the United States.
Lyndon Johnson (LBJ) suffered severe coronary artery occlusion. Conventional medicine had no safe treatment. LBJ knew that men in his family did not live much beyond 60 years.
In 1955, LBJ had the first of several heart attacks. Suffering chronic angina pain, LBJ declined to run for re-election at age 59 and died at 64.
Move forward a few decades and vast improvements occurred in prevention and treatment of heart disease. So much so that Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Dick Cheney were spared the fate of Lyndon Johnson.
In the years spanning 1980 to 2014, there was an astounding 50% decline in cardiovascular-related deaths.1 The reasons have a lot to do with what readers of this magazine practice every day to reduce their risk of atherosclerosis.
There have also been massive enhancements in coronary artery stenting and surgical bypass procedures. None of these interventions are perfect, but they’re better than enduring chronic chest pain, disability, and fatal heart attack, as LBJ and others suffered during his era.
But did Lyndon Johnson really have no effective treatment option in 1968? And are other former presidents following optimal coronary prevention strategies today?
Even a cursory review uncovers startling lapses by presidential cardiologists in initiating steps to prevent and reverse coronary artery blockage. This fate often befalls high-end individuals who get the “best” of conventional care, which inherently overlooks novel approaches to better treatments.
This tragedy persists today because many people are not utilizing affordable methods to identify their vascular risk factors in time.
President Dwight Eisenhower suffered his first heart attack in 1955. He had an ischemic stroke in 1957.
By the time of his death in 1969, Eisenhower suffered seven heart attacks, along with multiple diseases related to the unhealthy lifestyle of his era.2
Lyndon Johnson was 46 years old when his first heart attack struck in 1955. LBJ suffered angina pain until he succumbed to heart disease in 1973.3
In 1972, former president Harry Truman died from coronary artery disease,4 as did almost one million other Americans that year.
Back in those days, recovery from a heart attack was a slow and arduous process. Doctors recommended bed rest, no physical activity, and little in the way of dietary changes.
Was this vascular disease carnage necessary? A review of the published literature dating back to the 1940s reveals millions could have been spared…if only their doctors had bothered paying attention.5-7
Pioneer of Modern Cardiology
John Gofman, M.D., Ph.D., was a physicist turned medical doctor whose early work on radioactive isotopes resulted in his being recruited to work on The Manhattan Project to develop the first atomic bomb.
Dr. Gofman’s expertise on the biological effects of radiation caused him to take a controversial position. He documented how diagnostic X-rays are a cause of cancer and artery disease, something most in the medical establishment still refuse to accept.8-13
In 1947, Dr. Gofman began research that led him to conclude that cholesterol is a cause of atherosclerosis.6,7
Dr. Gofman and his colleagues were the first to show that specific fractions of cholesterol such as LDL (low-density lipoprotein) contribute to clogged arteries.14
In 1951, Dr. Gofman was involved in the publication of possibly the first book advocating low-fat/low-cholesterol diets to prevent heart disease.15
John Gofman was a Life Extension® member. I was privileged to have Dr. Gofman call me to express his gratitude for warning our readers about the dangers posed by radiation-emitting imaging devices (such as CT scans). Dr. Gofman regretted that so few physicians paid attention to his books, which documented higher cancer rates in those exposed to medical radiation.
So, in 1951, Dr. Gofman, a prestigious individual, promoted a book that revealed the role of diet and LDL cholesterol in arterial disease. Yet mainstream cardiology behaved as if this scientific evidence did not exist.
In 1959 and again in 1965, the FDA proclaimed it illegal for food makers to promote healthy diet as a way of preventing artery disease.16-18
- Chronic angina (chest) pain
- Declined to run for re-election at age 59
- More major heart attacks
- Dead at age 64 (1973)
(Conventional Treatments Lacking)
Role of Nathan Pritikin
Nathan Pritikin was a millionaire inventor in areas as diverse as engineering, photography, and aeronautics.
In 1957, at age 40, Pritikin was diagnosed with severe coronary artery disease. Faced with a lifetime of ever-increasing disability, he pored over the scientific literature and formulated a diet and exercise program to treat his ailment.19 After nine years of trial and error, he had effectively treated himself.
Long before the medical establishment acknowledged the role of poor diets causing serious illness, Pritikin created a program using food and exercise as medicine.
Pritikin was an engineer…not a doctor. His revolutionary departure from the flawed theories of the 1950s caused him to become a public enemy of the medical establishment.
Despite many clinical successes, Nathan Pritikin was accused of being a charlatan. For much of the 1970s, Pritikin waged battles with government and private health agencies, as well as the American Medical Association.20,21 The establishment refused to accept that what one ate had anything to do with heart disease risk.
In 1987, the Journal of the American Medical Association announced a study that showed regression of atherosclerosis in the coronary arteries of humans who reduced their blood cholesterol by a similar degree as was accomplished using the Pritikin protocol.22
Had Dwight Eisenhower or Lyndon Johnson paid attention to published scientific studies linking poor diets to coronary artery disease, they could have been spared years of suffering and premature death.
- 2004 – Coronary Bypass, Age 58
- 2010 – Coronary Stents, Age 63
(These procedures were not safely available to LBJ in the 1955-1973 era.)
Improved Heart Attack Prevention
We know far more now than what John Gofman and Nathan Pritikin uncovered more than 60 years ago.
Back in those early days, there were no well-known effective methods to lower vascular risk factors (such as elevated LDL) other than strict low-calorie/ultra low-fat diets. Few people of that era were willing to give up their bacon, butter, steak, and eggs, let alone start eating healthy vegetables and fruit.
Today we know that not all fats are dangerous. For instance, solid data supports the value of extra-virgin olive oil23-25 and omega-3 fatty acids in lowering cardiovascular risk and risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.26-29
In lieu of the ultra low-fat diet espoused by Nathan Pritikin, the preponderance of data indicates that following a Mediterranean-style diet is an effective and practical way to reduce one’s cardiovascular risks.30,31
What’s more, there is a new test that measures factors that oxidize LDL, and thus provides a better marker of correctable vascular risk than John Gofman’s discovery of LDL in the late 1940s.
Since our inception, Life Extension® has advised healthy people to keep their LDL (low-density lipoprotein) below 100 mg/dL. Those with pre-existing coronary artery disease should strive to push LDL below 70 mg/dL.
The medical community now concurs with our LDL guidelines. I’m pleased that we can now identify earlier stages of atherosclerosis using a blood test that measures apolipoprotein B.
I’m even more excited that we are able to add apolipoprotein B to our popular Male and Female Panels at no extra charge!
“He was more than 95 percent occluded. With a blockage like that in a main artery you’re supposed to die…”
2013 – Coronary Stent, Age 67
Danger of Elevated Apolipoprotein B
Apolipoprotein B is found on all non-HDL cholesterol particles, such as LDL and VLDL.
The higher the ApoB number the more dangerous the situation. Higher ApoB generally equates to a higher amount of glycated and oxidized LDL particles, which are initiators of dangerous arterial plaque.32
Having a higher ApoB (apolipoprotein B) level can be a stronger heart attack predictor than LDL cholesterol.33,34
Until recently, testing one’s blood for apolipoprotein B (ApoB) was expensive. Even today, commercial labs charge $150 for this test (ApoB) of vascular risk.
- 1988 – Coronary Bypass, Age 47
- 2000 – Coronary Stents, Age 59
- 2010 – Ventricular Assist, Age 69
- 2012 – Heart Transplant, Age 71
Check Your Apolipoprotein B at No Added Cost!
Those with high apolipoprotein B blood levels are at greater risk for coronary artery disease.35
If an apolipoprotein B blood test comes back high, steps can be initiated to correct this.
The incredible news is that apolipoprotein B has been added to the Male and Female Blood Panels many of our supporters have done each year.
The addition of this vascular risk marker makes these comprehensive blood panels a greater value…at no additional cost!
- 1981: Homocysteine reduction
- 1983: Low-dose aspirin
- 1983: Coenzyme Q10
- 1996: Public access to blood tests
We defied conventional “reference ranges” for glucose, LDL, and blood pressure, arguing that optimal ranges were far lower than mainstream medicine believed at the time.
How Blood Tests Are Saving Lives
Every day, we at Life Extension® receive calls from people asking what they should do to reduce their degenerative disease risks. My response is that we have no idea until we review their blood test results.
In many cases, blood test panels that new people submit consist of little more than measures of glucose, lipids and liver/kidney function. Omitted almost always are tests for C-reactive protein, DHEA, homocysteine and other controllable risk factors
To resolve this lack of data, we combined the most powerful indicators of heart attack/stroke risk into comprehensive Male and Female Blood Panels.
The retail price of having all these tests done can approach $900. We’ve been able to use our high volume to drive the cost of these popular panels down to $199 during our annual Lab Test Super Sale.
I’m proud of how we’ve added more tests to these panels over the years, such as 25-hydroxyvitamin D and hemoglobin A1c… without raising the price!
We sometimes find our supporters are taking too much vitamin D or DHEA and are able to suggest they reduce their dose. In other cases, we identify markers that predispose one to cancer, dementia, atherosclerosis, or kidney failure.
Once uncovered via comprehensive blood testing, most people are able to move these markers into safer ranges.
For example, Dwight Eisenhower smoked four packs of cigarettes a day until he quit in 1949. Combined with his high saturated-fat intake, he was at great cardiac risk. Here is what President Eisenhower ate the day of his first heart attack:36
- Breakfast: sausage, bacon, mush, hotcakes
- Lunch: hamburger with raw onion
- Dinner: roast lamb
Heart attack and/or stroke claimed the lives of most of the presidents in the past century including Theodore Roosevelt, William Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Calvin Coolidge, Franklin Roosevelt, and Richard Nixon (hemorrhagic stroke).
Annual Lab Test Super Sale
The high cost and hassles of blood testing in conventional settings precludes many people from availing themselves of a proven preventive diagnostic.
We resolved this problem 22 years ago by enabling readers of this magazine to order low-cost blood tests direct, and then to visit a drawing station in their area at their convenience.
Results come back in less than a week and are emailed and mailed directly to you. If you have any questions, our Wellness Specialists are available to assist seven days/week at no charge.
Once a year, we discount prices of all blood tests. This serves as a convenient reminder to have one’s annual tests performed and save 50% in the process.
People often comment on the degree of variability in blood results that can occur over a year’s time. This variance can be a result of normal aging, use of a new drug, or lifestyle alteration.
In any case, gaining knowledge that a blood marker is out of balance enables corrective actions to be taken before serious illnesses manifest.
This year’s blood test sale expires on June 4th, 2018.
To order the new Male or Female Blood Panels (that now include ApoB) at the bargain price of $199, call 1-800-208-3444 (24 hours) or log on to: LifeExtension.com/labservices
I hope the historical data conveyed in this editorial enable readers to understand that atherosclerosis is a normal part of aging.
One reason heart attacks did not kill more people in years 1900-1944 is that average life expectancy during this period was only 55 years.
Now that people are living longer, they need to be vigilant in protecting against arterial occlusion, and it starts with comprehensive blood tests.
By: William Faloon