Exercise is not the answer

As a cardiologist retired recently after 35 years in practice, I have a few comments regarding “Advice for the aging athlete: Push harder” [Jan. 7].

Physical conditioning is an obviously important aspect of longevity and cardiovascular health, but not the only one. The comment by the trainer about fat and cholesterol not being proven to cause heart disease is not appropriate. Heart disease is a multifactorial condition, with many risk factors, of which cholesterol and fat are a major — though not the only — cause. To advocate a high-saturated-fat diet or a Paleo diet is potentially harmful. Another article highlighted recent expert consensus on these diets [“The best way to lose weight is. . .”], and the Paleo diet was considered the worst.

It is nice to be able to run marathons or triathlons, but optimal reduction of cardiovascular risk can be accomplished at a much more moderate level than that.

Christopher J. Leet, Catharpin, Va.

Chiropractic’s legacy

I was absolutely stunned to read “Crack! Can vigorous neck manipulations by chiropractors cause serious problems?” [Jan. 7] about “complications” from the procedure. I suffered carotid artery dissection and stroke after a chiropractic neck manipulation. I was 36 years old at the time, in excellent health and physical condition with no predisposing factors or conditions. The lingering deficiencies are only lifelong nerve pain in my neck and shoulder. I say “only” because I realize how fortunate I was to leave the hospital at all and see my family again.

The risks from neck manipulations are statistically small, but patients need to be made aware of them before consenting to the treatment. For women, the risks seem to be greater than for men. All women should be aware of this before lying down on a chiropractor’s table.

Dusti Plunkett, Ashburn

In 1973, an American Medical Association mole sent decades’ worth of memoranda exposing a conspiracy to ruin chiropractic by prejudicing hundreds of thousands of young MDs and nurses in training beginning in the 1940s. All to ridicule a science that says, essentially, that postural pressure on the spinal cord is deeply injurious to the health and life span of the individual. That documentation formed the basis of a hugely successful antitrust case.

The thread of this sociologically fascinating legacy of chiropractic prejudice, I believe, can be seen in your “chiropractic and stroke” article. It ignores wholesale the growing body of research showing the surprising total health benefits of doing what chiropractors do: approaching health through the computer keyboard of the spine, posture and the nervous system.

Why not begin to explore the substantial positives in chiropractic and how it changes the brain? Look at the MRI scans that show impressive brain changes of chiropractic. Or how the government of Mexico is aggressively inserting chiropractic for all conditions into the country’s social health delivery system because of its efficacy and cost savings.

People find tremendous benefit with chiropractic every day. And I suggest we are only scratching the surface of what it can do for health and health care that doesn’t break the national bank.

David Walls-Kaufman, doctor of chiropractic, Washington