Cardiovascular disease is the world’s leading cause of death. Despite significant advances in its diagnosis, robust treatment remains elusive.
US-based cardiovascular specialists Dr Bradley Bale and Dr Amy Doneen have developed a simple, holistic, and effective method to cure cardiovascular disease. The BaleDoneen Method® targets one of its biggest contributing factors: oxidative stress.
Read their Research Features article: doi.org/10.26904/RF-148-4831388762
Find out more on their website: baledoneen.com
Image source: Adobe Stock Images / Africa Studio
Hello and welcome to Research Pod! Thank you for listening and joining us today.
In this episode we look at the work of Dr Bradley Bale and Dr Amy Doneen, two US-based researchers who have developed a pioneering approach to treating and preventing heart attacks and strokes, known as the BaleDoneen Method® – or BDM for short. Excitingly, the pair suggest that humans can conquer systemic arterial disease by stopping oxidative stress, bringing new meaning to the distress code SOS.
Imagine if the many chronic health conditions that harm and kill millions of people every year could be traced back to a single cause. Think of the implications – instead of chasing after the myriad outcomes and tackling them with diverse and occasionally successful interventions, we could target the source.
Two American senior specialists in cardiovascular care have spent the last twenty years combining their different areas of expertise to focus on arterial disease. They have seen how heart attacks, strokes, and other chronic diseases of ageing – such as dementia, heart failure, kidney failure, peripheral arterial disease, erectile dysfunction, and loss of vision – can all be traced back to arterial disease. The team has gone one step deeper and designed a medical approach that addresses a specific source event behind arterial disease. Their robust approach is having a positive impact on cardiovascular disease’s unwanted supremacy as the world’s number one cause of death, disability, and healthcare cost burden.
Dr Bradley Bale and Dr Amy Doneen first met in 1999 over a shared interest in the early detection of cardiovascular disease through the lens of family practice. They both knew that arterial disease was linked to other diseases – and that there was a reason for that. The thousands of kilometres of blood vessels that run throughout our body, connecting our organs, are like the infrastructural network of roads, rail, and pipelines that service every major city. If these biways are unhealthy, they don’t operate smoothly, causing blockages and congestion, affecting the organs. For, arguably, the body’s two most important organs, the outcome is an increased risk of heart attack and strokes. Bale and Doneen understood that despite significant advances in diagnosing and treating cardiovascular disease, it remained the leading cause of death and impaired health globally; a different approach to the disease was therefore needed.
Given the scale and scope of the cardiovascular system, the opportunities for disruption and disease are numerous, but for Bale and Doneen, one event merits special attention: oxidative stress, or OS. This condition occurs when there is an imbalance between the production of harmful free radicals – highly reactive molecules – and the body’s ability to neutralise or detoxify them. OS activates platelets, thereby increasing a substance called platelet derived growth factor. This protein affects the smooth muscle cells in arterial walls causing them to become genetically transformed. The maladapted, transformed cells generate a sticky substance resulting in lipoproteins – also called cholesterol – getting trapped in the arterial wall. This encourages OS and triggers the body’s immune response, which in turn produces inflammation in the artery. A visous cycle of OS can ensue, leading to more deposits of cholesterol. This collection of cholesterol can coaless into plaques, a condition called atherosclerosis or arterial disease. The inflammation caused by this process can disrupt the arterial lining above the plaque and generate an obstructing blood clot. The blockage can occur in large arteries causing symptomatic issues like heart attacks and strokes. It can also occur over time in smaller arteries, causing asymptomatic microvascular damage. This type of silent arterial disease is frequent and leads to the chronic diseases of aging such as dementia, heart failure, kidney failure, peripheral arterial disease, vision loss and erectile dysfunction.
For Bale and Doneen, oxidative stress is the ‘critical link’ between cholesterol and inflammation; they reveal it as the main driver behind arterial disease. Preventing OS is key to addressing the condition and, thus, preventing heart attacks,strokes and chronic diseases of aging. So, they have designed a treatment regime that respects the complexities of OS causation but is straightforward enough for fellow medical practitioners to apply and customise to a specific patient’s needs: the BaleDoneen Method®. Importantly, because the method is holistic, it negates the standard siloed approaches to treatment that can sentence patients to a lifetime of being shuttled back and forth between specialists.
The six-step method first involves educating patients and practitioners on the fact that a blood clot in the arterial system blocks the flow of blood. Most of these obstructions are silent and lead to the chronic diseases of ageing. The second step is the disease diagnosis component which identifies the level of plaque in a patient’s arteries. The third step is identifying arterial inflammation, or ‘fire’, which results from OS. Extinguishing or limiting any future ‘fires’ requires identifying the root causes of OS – the fourth step. If the root causes are ignored, it’s only a matter of time before another, possibly fatal, ‘flare up’ occurs. The fifth step is setting individualised goals of therapy anchored in the sixth step, which is genetics.
With the above knowledge, a practitioner can design an optimal intervention for the patient, providing achievable goals for long-term health. Because numerous sources of oxidative stress are modifiable, including poor diet, physical inactivity, weight problems, sleep disturbances, infection, periodontal disease, gut dysbiosis, vitamin D deficiency, hypertension, nicotine addiction, prediabetes, and various psychosocial issues, treatment can involve any one or a combination of proven interventions, including lifestyle changes. Medications are used to stabilize the disease when necessary. Utilising genetics to provide individualised care to each patient ensures the success of the method.
Since designing the BaleDoneen Method®, Bale and Doneen have encouraged fellow practitioners to apply it to clinical practice, with remarkable results in thousands of patients through primary care and speciality clinics across the United States. Two real-world evidence research studies of data from treatment programmes have also highlighted the method’s success. One, by the Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease, examined treatment results in a cohort of 324 patients and showed comprehensive reductions in cardiovascular disease risk. Another study by the Texas Tech Health Science Center analysed data from the treatment of 576 patients using the BaleDoneen Method® over eight years. It showed clear regression of disease in the patients’ carotid arteries.
The genius behind the BaleDoneen Method® is two-fold. Firstly, it focuses on shutting down the main source of arterial disease – oxidative stress. Secondly, it encourages doing so through the combination of proven interventions. The results show clear evidence that this procedure halts, regresses, and stabilises arterial disease. Encouraged by the success of their method – not only in treating arterial disease but also in addressing other ancillary diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, dementia and erectile dysfunction – Bale and Doneen published a book titled ‘Healthy Heart, Healthy Brain: The Personalised Path to Protect Your Memory, Prevent Heart Attacks and Strokes, and Avoid Chronic Illness’. Earlier this year, it won the 2023 Gold Nautilus Book Award in the Health, Healing and Wellness category and the American Society for Journalists and Authors’ 2023 June Roth Memorial Award for Outstanding Medical Book.
For Bale and Doneen, the awards are exciting, but what encourages them is the growing realisation within their field that oxidative stress is the common denominator leading to arterial disease and its subsequent devastating consequences. Doctors can now tell patients with cardiovascular disease that there is a cure. Through over 20 years of research and the systematic application of their method, Bale and Doneen have managed a seismic shift in cardiovascular care. However, they remain doctors at heart, and so the real testimonial to their impact is in the thousands of people who previously faced severe illness and an early death, who now get to live fuller lives, healthily and more productively, by simply following the treatment that carries their name.
Early on, Bale and Doneen had excellent peer-reviewed science to back up their statements about what should work, but they nevertheless required real-world evidence proving that the method actually worked. The pair were fortunate to have enough patients who believed in their scientific approach and, over time, they accumulated real-world evidence to validate their method. Currently, they are seeking the attention of insurance companies that will realise the huge humanitarian and financial benefit of the method. They are also incorporating the method into select academic institutions and teaching it to practitioners around the world.
Throughout this process, the six fundamental elements have largely remained the same. However, there have been significant enhancements with each step. For example, it was unknown at first that most obstructions – events like heart attacks – are silent and subsequently lead to small artery damage. Scientists now agree that this microvascular disease is the underlying pathology of most chronic diseases of ageing. Bale and Doneen have published a recent paper linking OS as the critical link between cholesterol and inflammation, which is garnering huge attention in the medical community. The pair aim to forge ahead until the BDM is the standard of care around the world.
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