This is a true story... At the ripe young age of 70, Joe -- an avid surfer -- injured his shoulder in a bad fall. As you may know, nothing can keep a passionate surfer down for long. And so Joe, still wet from his latest stint in the ocean, consulted a physician about repairing his torn rotator cuff.
His physician recommended surgery. As part of his pre-surgery workup, an EKG was required. Joe went to a cardiologist who told him that he had severe arterial blockage. He approved him for the surgery, but told him to come back as soon as possible for a procedure that could save his life.
Something’s Not Right
Joe had been a patient of mine for over 20 years, so I was very familiar with his lifestyle and medical history. I was shocked to hear this latest diagnosis. Having served as his Medical Advocate on several prior occasions, he asked me once again to help him evaluate and determine the best possible course of treatment.
After his successful surgery, I joined Joe for his consultation with the cardiologist. During the session, I asked some key questions… How much blockage does he have? How quickly should he have this procedure? The physician responded with great confidence and cockiness. He flatly stated that Joe had 99% arterial blockage and should have the procedure immediately. What’s more, the cardiologist reiterated that he was, in fact, saving Joe’s life and that he should be extremely grateful.
The procedure that the cardiologist strongly recommended — no, insisted on — was the insertion of a stent, a permanent, wire-mesh tube placed inside an artery to keep it open. But that’s only part of it. Once implanted, Joe would have to be on blood thinning medication for the rest of his life.
When we left his office, Joe, extremely distraught, was prepared to move forward with the recommended procedure ASAP. But it just didn’t sit well with me. First, nowhere did the doctor’s written report indicate a 99% arterial blockage, along with his signature. Second, I knew the significant role exercise played in Joe’s life. If he did have a 99% blockage, how could he possibly surf for three hours at a clip without any pain or shortness of breath? Something just wasn’t right.
Joe and I had an extensive, private consultation. I strongly advised him to seek a second opinion. I then researched various physicians and found a cardiologist whose reputation I trusted. Joe went to this new physician for a thorough exam and extensive tests. These results were just as shocking: Joe did not have 99% arterial blockage. In fact, he had absolutely NO blockage at all—and therefore no need for a stent and blood thinners!
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (2011) puts the cost of cardiac stents at an estimated $12 billion annually. How many of these are unnecessary, I wonder? According to Dr. David L. Brown*, “Stents for stable patients prevent zero heart attacks and extend the lives of patients a grand total of not at all.” Dr. Brown’s position is that if you’re not having a heart attack, you don’t need a stent. And yet hundreds of thousands of stable patients get them every year. Worse still, these stents can prove dangerous and even fatal.
Fortunately, Joe didn’t have the procedure and never went back to the first cardiologist. Instead, he continues to surf and enjoy a healthy, active lifestyle without any medication. Sadly, however, there are millions of men and women who are not as lucky as Joe. And this is just one kind of procedure out of thousands!
Make Better Decisions
The above story clearly demonstrates the advantages of having a Medical Advocate on your team. There are many wonderful physicians out there. But there are also some that aren’t so great. All are in a position of authority, and can be intimidating at a time when you can be easily overwhelmed and at your most vulnerable. I have heard this from countless patients. Because of this, most patients fear if they don’t immediately do exactly what the doctor says, they’ll regret it, decline in health, or possibly even die.
How do you know the right decision for you and your loved ones? On your own, it is very challenging as there’s a lot of conflicting information out there. This is where a Medical Advocate can help you.
A great part of my life’s work and passion has been helping men and women of all ages stay vibrantly healthy by avoiding unnecessary surgeries, procedures, and drugs whenever possible. In no way am I against these more traditional methods of treatment. In fact, I have worked alongside many of the country’s finest MDs for decades, referring to them whenever appropriate. My only agenda is helping you achieve optimal health in the best way possible.
Peace of Mind
I have served as a Medical Advocate for several years. I regularly consult in person, by Skype or phone—locally and across the country. Prior to each session, I review your medical records, blood work, and other test results. All to best determine what’s going on in your body, so I can prescribe lifestyle changes, natural remedies, or other courses of treatment. If I think you should consult with a physician, I do extensive research and screening to find the best one in your area. Together we then determine the safest, most sensible course of action. So you can address your health issues with confidence and peace of mind which, incidentally, is also an important part of your overall wellbeing.
Dr. Vicki Weissler: Your Personal Medical Advocate
Available throughout the U.S. & Canada
949.235.5560 | drVweissler@gmail.com
* Distinguished Professor, the cardiovascular division of Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri.