Published in "Panorama"
Bypassing Bypass Surgery and Angioplasty ???
Yes, it is possible to reverse coronary blockages and avoid the discomforts of Bypass Surgery and Angioplasty, says Dr.Bimal Chhajer, renowned Cardiac Specialist, ex-Consultant at New Delhi’s AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences), pioneer in non invasive heart care and currently Director of SAAOL (Science And Art of Living) Heart Centre, New Delhi. Trained under Dr.Dean Ornish of USA who has scientifically proved the possibility of reversal of blockages in the heart arteries, Dr. Chahajer has successfully enabled thousands of heart patients to avoid surgery or angioplasty for their condition. He has done so through the five easy steps of Education, Stress Reduction, Diet Modification, Yoga & Meditation and Exercise!
Elaborating on the course of heart disease and heart attacks, Dr.Chhjer explains, “Blood is supplied to the heart through three major blood vessels: the right coronary artery with its many branches, the left coronary artery with its two major branches, the anterior descending coronary artery and the left circumflex coronary artery. When one or all of these tubes are blocked more than 70%, the person is deemed a heart patient. These blocks themselves happen because of Cholesterol and fat deposit in the inner lining of these blood vessels. Consequently there is an obstruction of blood flow through them, resulting in a compromised supply of oxygen and nutrients to the heart. This is when symptoms of heart disease become manifest as chest pain on walking and effort, shortness of breath, et al. With today’s stressed out and faulty life styles, blockages which normally take about 30 years to develop, are happening earlier, in 10-15 years; so we are getting heart patients at the early ages of between 30 – 35 years. One day, the membrane which covers the blockage gives off and there is suddenly a clot coming over here and the block becomes 100%. However, the situations leading to this point and subsequent heart attack can be prevented if the patient takes care to reduce the blockage rather than promote its increase. Following the steps of SAAOL, such cases will never need hospitalization for the heart attack will not happen.”
Coronary heart disease which constitutes more than 95% of heart ailments, says Dr.Chhajer, “is a disease of ignorance”, occasioned by lack of knowledge of the working of the heart. According to him, it is the result of long-time mis-management of the heart by following faulty life style. “We believe that the risk factors of heart diseases are majorly 14 in number including high levels of the bad cholesterol or LDL, low levels of HDL or the good cholesterol, the ratio of cholesterol to HDL, Triglyceride, uncontrolled Diabetes, Hypertension, low exercise, tobacco consumption in various forms including smoking, excessive stress, obesity, diets lacking in fibre and antioxidants.”
How does the reversal of blockages actually happen? Dr.Chhajer explains, “We need to control the deposition of fat and cholesterol in the blood vessels of the heart, along with controlling the risk factors which lead to these deposits. By doing so, we come to a stage when the blockage will not take place. We go a little beyond this, however: we don’t supply the body adequate cholesterol from outside; we want the body to absorb the cholesterol that is already present in the deposits. Our aim is not only to arrest the progress of blockages, but also reverse them. If we create ideal situations, cholesterol and fat which are easily dissolved in the blood, can be picked up from the blockages. There are some areas of the blockage which are reversible in stages. We aim to bring the blockage down to 50% or thereabout. It is not required to reduce it below this level because below 70% blockage, people are not heart patients at all! Yes, some amount of sclerosis, 20% - 30%, will always occur as a part of the ageing process but this will cause no harm.”
The parameters then, to prevent and reverse blockages and heart attacks, as indicated by Dr.Chhajer include, Cholesterol levels to be maintained between 130-160 mg/100 ml of blood, Triglycerides at 60-120 mg/100 ml of blood, HDL cholesterol at 40 – 60 mg/100 ml blood, LDL cholesterol should be below 100 mg/ 100 ml blood, Total Cholesterol to HDL ratio should not exceed 4, fasting Blood Sugar level should be between 70-100 mg/100 ml, Blood sugar levels post eating should be maintained below 140 mg/100 ml, Blood Pressure should be maintained at 120/80 mmHg, maintaining body weight in proportion of height, total abstinence from smoking and alcohol, controlling stress to the extent possible, 35 minutes of brisk walking every day, generous intakes of fibre containing foods and those containing antioxidants, consuming plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, avoidance of meat of any kind, restricted consumption of milk and milk products and switching over to skimmed milk and food cooked in zero oil or ghee.
“If individuals have plenty of anti-oxidants in their blood, the blockages will not happen,” emphasizes Dr. Chhajer. “Vitamins A, C and E are the main anti-oxidants found in coloured fruits and vegetables, leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, sprouts, pulses and cereals. It is just as important to cut down stress because it can affect Blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels, smoking and exercise as well.”
However, before we impress upon patients the importance of diet, meditation, yoga stress busting and exercise, it is imperative we educate patients on the simple anatomy of the heart and how various factors lead to its becoming diseased, says Dr.Chhajer. Once they are knowledgeable about this, they appreciate the precise value and importance of the other factors. “Under our scheme of things, it is absolutely essential to have a zero-oil diet Till the age of 18, human beings grow in height and weight. But after 18, it is only gain in weight and no increase in height that happens. So it is ideal to have zero oil after the age of 18!
Dr.Chhajer’s program is a comprehensive one where he does not merely tell people what should be done to reverse the blockages and prevent becoming heir to heart ailments, but also how every one of these 5 basic steps can be carried out in the most practical manner. Patients are trained to cook mouth-watering dishes without a drop of oil. A beaming Dr.Chhajer reveals, “We have 150 recipes each for sweets and snacks and 500 dishes constituting major meals, all prepared without using a single drop of oil! These are also multi-cuisine dishes.”
Besides zero-oil food, the SAAOL program involves cutting down on carbohydrate food which promotes weight gain. Dr.Chhajer emphasizes, “Fat intake should be 10% of total calories, whether in the visible form or invisible form. Yes, invisible fat is what is naturally present in many of the foods we take and visible fat is what we add to our food. Almost every food has about 2-3% oil in it; for instance, rice has 0.5 – 1 gm fat in every 100 gms, onion has 0.1 gm fat in every 100 gms, cauliflower has 0.1 gm fat for every 100 gms, every 100 gms of dates contain 0.4 gm fat! So there is so much of oil in our food, what’s the need for additional fat in the form of visible fat? True, in earlier times we used to take oils but we also used to burn them doing physical activity. But now we don’t burn them because we follow sedentary life styles, making way for heart disease.”
Does this imply that this program works for every patient who has been advised angioplasty or Bypass Surgery by the Specialist? Dr.Chhajer is undoubted on the issue: “Definitely so, except in about 1% of cases. This 1% constitutes those patients who have a blockage of more than 90% in the left main tube of their heart and those patients who are having a heart attack.”
Does this also mean that patients who are already on medication for heart problems involving blockage, can come off the drugs by strictly adhering to these five steps? Dr.Chhajer is candid: “No, not for sometime, at least till the reversal is not occurring. As a cardiologist, I can’t take any risk with my patients. They have to be on medication till they reach the stage where it can be withdrawn without any risk.”
Are the results of the program tested and documented? Once again, Dr.Chhajer is forthright: “We have got few research studies done by our Ph.D students in collaboration with the Delhi College of Nutrition. Research has shown that within 3 months of our program, people lose their weight by roughly 10 kgs, have cholesterol levels lowered to 130 mg, and the angina has disappeared. These are all indirect evidences. As for direct evidences with angiography, we have only an anecdotal arrangement because we don’t advice people to get a repeat angiography since this procedure itself is an invasive one and we at SAAOL, don’t believe in any invasive procedure. However, Dr.Dean Ornish in the USA, has already proved with all angiographies that blockages have reversed!”