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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Preventing Heart and Stroke Attacks; The Basics.

Dr. Larry

"Off the Record Q & A with a Local A.M.E."

DR. Larry

Rather than answering a question today, I’d like to pose one. What is the common underlying process putting pilot at risk for strokes, heart attacks, and diabetes? Airplane food? Time zone changes? High altitude radiation? Prolonged sitting? Genetics? Rotten customers? Close. All of these challenges stress our bodies. However, there's something more basic involved.

Here's a hint: I recently attended a seminar sponsored by the Cleveland Heart Labs titled, “Where Inflammation Meets Lipids.” If you said inflammation, congratulations! You are one of a small percentage who understands what causes our arteries to become damaged and vulnerable to plaque buildup.

The Cleveland Heart Lab, along with a number of other outstanding research centers, is on the forefront of defining new biomarkers, which helps us recognize when arteries are inflamed and at risk. Without inflammation, it's harder for disease to occur.

Certain biomarkers are currently available. Unfortunately, a number of them are not part of “the standard of care” for assessing cardiovascular disease. Insurance companies might not cover them or doctors might believe they are not necessary. Living by the standard of care paradigm often explains why people who appear fit can have a sudden heart attack or stroke when they least expect it.

We’ve all heard about “healthy” women and men, who’ve had a complete physical or stress test, told they have excellent performance with terrific cholesterol levels and then wham, they're in the hospital having a stent or bypass or rehab. Scary stuff!

Why does this happen?

A coronary or brain artery can have adequate flow even with a significant quantity of plaque. Unlike a fuel line, it takes at least 70% to 80% blockage of a coronary artery before a person will feel the effects, such as exertional shortness of breath, fatigue or chest pain with exercise. However, if inflammation is present even in a small sized plaque, say “only” 20% to 50% of the vessel’s diameter, the plaque can rupture, like a little volcano into the artery, leading to a sudden clot and complete blockage. No warning. Boom. In fact, HALF these people have been told their unhealthy LDL cholesterol was in a good range!

Click HERE and HERE to see brief videos of this process.

If FIFTY percent of all heart attacks present with normal LDL cholesterol levels, which has been the standard of care for the past decade, something else must be going on. More recently, the news has touted healthy HDL cholesterol levels with the pharmaceutical industry pouring big bucks into creating a super HDL boosting medication with some success. Yet we don’t want to count on another medication to fix a problem after the fact. By the time plaque has developed and become inflamed, it's a snowball destined to get bigger and possibly rupture.

Can this be prevented? Absolutely and it will take a shift in our thinking to do so. We must uncover the presence of disease and inflammation and base our evaluations on the individual, not big population studies, since we are all different.

Two leaders in their field I have been fortunate to study with have proven it can be done. Brad Bales, MD and Amy Doneen, ARNP, run the Heart and Stroke Prevention Clinic in Spokane, WA, and Lubbock, TX. They have developed the Bales/Doneen method with results so far ahead of anyone else, they teach and lecture both nationally and internationally. Their nearly 100% success rate in preventing heart and stroke attacks are numbers that are unheard of in cardiology offices!! Imagine how many stents and bypasses could be prevented. Imagine how this could reverse the growing health care debt!

Yes, it is a preventable and stoppable process, probably even reversible and that’s the message. Next time you talk to your doctor, tell them you want to know if you have 1) evidence of disease and 2) evidence of vascular inflammation. Be prepared for resistance, and if you don’t get the answers you are seeking, find someone who will work with you to give you the BEST chance of never having something that can curtail your flying career!

To your good health,

Dr. Larry

To read more about Dr. Larry, send him a question, or contact him, please click HERE

Enjoy the Journey!

XOX Karlene


  1. Wow, I had no idea. This is fascinating, and I like this posing a question rather than answering a random one. It's great to know what's on a doctor's mind!

  2. Thank you so much for this. I will definitely ask my doctor those questions, but I'd like to ask Dr. Larry one that was raised while I read this: if you have high LDL levels, but excellent HDL levels, do you still need to worry about inflammation? That is my situation. Apparently the ratio is considered excellent, but does that mean no problem?

  3. Thanks for this post, Karlene. It should be broadcast to everyone. Those without heart issues are still subject to the possibility of having them arise in the future.

    I love your posts.

  4. Very, very interesting and in line with my personal views. Can you recommend a cardiologist working along these lines in the Dallas area? I'm in my middle 50's now, taking meds for blood pressure and cholesterol (despite being normal weight for my height, 6ft 0" and 180lbs, with vigorous exercise 2 to 3 times a week and walk a mile each day). Most of my grandparents and prior have died of heart problems over the years (although quite advanced in years), so I'd like to know in advance if there's a problem creeping in. Yes, I'm a control freak - I'm a pilot, y'know?

  5. Very informative!

    1st video helped in understanding the difference between LDL and HDL. Watching the 2nd video was a shock.

    We really need to take care of ourselves. Life is so fragile.

    Thanks, Karlene for the post. Also, I like the Doc's photo. We've got to keep our Boeings healthy. :)

  6. Linda, That's a great question. I would love to know that answer too. I know he's continuing on next week.... so if he doesn't respond here, I'm sure he will the continuation of this post.

  7. David, Thank you so much! I think everyone needs to know this too. Fascinating, and could save a life or two. Thank you for the nice comment.

  8. D.B. I will make sure Dr. Larry jumps on that. My husband recently have very high blood pressure. (180/140) We cut out all salt and it cured the problem. Not sure if that could help... but maybe. My neighbor took half a diuretic and that fixed her high blood pressure, too. But let me go call the doctor. I fly planes, and play doctor occasionally. :) Thanks for the comment! Keep exercising.

  9. Thanks Bryan. Those videos were amazing for sure. I'm glad you like the photo, too. He probably thought I was crazy when I asked him to take that picture, but later he knew that I am. He did have faith I'd pick a good one. Thank you so much for the nice comment! :)

  10. I could not guess inflammation:( I was guessing because of genetic matter.
    Thank you very much for sharing useful information for the eternity healthy body.yes we should ask doctor since we will be able to prevent from these risks:)
    Have a great night.

  11. Great stuff... shame it is not available here! Love the posts, keep them coming!

  12. Jun, I think many people think genetics are the culprit. You are so welcome... I know you value great health. Thank you for the comment!

  13. Capt. Yaw, maybe one day it will be there. You've come so far... never say never. Thank you for the comment and then great work you're doing in Ghana!

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