In coronary thrombosis or any other condition in which the blood congeals and forms clots, dicoumarol and heparin are used to thin the thickened blood. These drugs accomplish this by reducing the production of the blood-clotting elements or by interfering with their normal effects on the blood.
That such methods are dangerous is well known. They can cause various blood derangements, lead to hemorrhage, and have caused many deaths. Flexman9 pointed out that dicoumarol has accounted for 32 fatal hemorrhages.
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These fatalities resulted even where there was careful laboratory control and despite long prior use without serious complications.
He further pointed out that many cases of nonfatal reactions have been reported from the use of this drug, and quoted Link, the developer of this drug, to the effect that the briefest meditation on the strictly theoretical aspects of the clotting phenomena leaves one with the appalling feeling that tampering with the coagulability of the blood is hazardous business.
The Journal of the American Medical Xssociation, April 22, 1961, in an editorial entitled Possible Risks in Anticoagulation Treatment of Cerebral Vascular Disease, reporting the findings of neurologists in nine Veterans Administration hospitals covering the observations of 155 patients, in half of whom anticoagulant drugs were used for an average period of about nine months, states: Not only was the incidence of recurrent cerebral infarction apparently unaltered by anticoagulation, but treated patients had a higher mortality than controls (those who did not receive anticoagulant drugs). The increase in deaths was due partly to the occurrence of cerebral hemorrhage, a complication which has been observed in other studies and which is regarded as a major risk of this therapy.
Of course, it is important that to obtain results the thickened blood be thinned, but it is one thing when this is accomplished by following a regimen that helps bring about this change and quite another when it is done with a remedy that tampers with the coagulability of the blood.
Some years ago, Dr. Ernest Klein, a physician from Europe who was connected with the New York University, Bellevue Medical Center, disclosed that a diet of orange juice diluted in water will help thin thickened blood. 10 Dr. Klein was subsequently discharged from his position in the hospital, apparently because he published the results of his findings without obtaining prior approval from his medical colleagues.
Levine stated that diet during the early days (of an attack) should be confined to liquids, gradually returning to more ordinary food in small amounts, and then mentioned that it has been advised that a low calory diet (500 to 800 calories a day) should be used in acute coronary thrombosis and in fact, is being advocated in the treatment of many severe or stubborn cases of congestive heart failure. He points out that this semi-starvation diet diminishes the work of the heart, and produces other favorable effects on the circulatory dynamics. 11
If in addition to a low calory intake we also make sure that the food is easily digestible and provides the body with its much needed minerals, vitamins, and enzymes, and when, in addition to this, we have provided the other care that helps to restore normal functioning, Ve have done everything possible to counteract the progress of the disease and thin the thickened blood.
Abstinence from food for short periods of time and restriction of the fluid intake are of great help in these cases. Many physicians are acquainted with the dramatic results obtained by the Karell diet, which consists of seven ounces of milk used four times a day.
Levine, in discussing the efficacy of the Karell diet, explains that semi-starvation produces a fall in blood pressure, in pulse rate, and in the basal metabolic rate, and that this may diminish the work of the heart and may thereby improve the circulation when failure is present.
Continuing on the same subject, he quotes Proger, who suggested that patients suffering from severe heart failure be kept on a diet containing adequate protein but only 500 to 800 total calories, and that such diets be continued for months, possibly indefinitely.
Dr. Irving C. Cutter in one of his syndicated articles related that J. Hatsilver, after trying numerous types of management, finally decided to place forty-eight of his high blood pressure cases on a bold starvation program. Each patient was kept on nothing but fruit juices, tomato juice, hot lemonade, or vegetable broth for six days. On the seventh day, he was given a normal diet. This program was repeated each week as long as the symptoms improved, or until the blood pressure was reduced to normal.
Relief of symptoms in 90 per cent of the cases was dramatic, Dr. Cutter wrote. Headaches and sleeplessness disappeared within three days, and dizziness, shortness of breath, and other symptoms were usually relieved by the end of the first week. In certain instances, the period of reduced pressure was fairly extensive and a number of otherwise incapacitated patients returned to full or part time employment. 12
We have demonstrated the efficacy of this approach in some of the most difficult cases. In describing them, we do not mean to imply that no recoveries occur in standard practice, but merely how much more complete the results would be if sound physiological methods were employed.