I've been following paleo way of living for a little while now and believe it's absolutely the way to go. Just like any new beginner though I'm guessing, I just want to ensure this is the way to go. I understand Dr. Atkins died from hitting his head after slipping, but after reading this I want to know if there was any truth to what is said, and if so, why?
"Following this, a Nebraska doctor known to be anti-Atkins, and associated with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, requested Dr. Atkins' medical records, which should not have been released, but which mistakenly were sent. The Medical Examiner's report had a hand-written note that Atkins had a history of myocardial infarction (heart attack), congestive heart failure, and hypertension (written "h/o MI, CHF, HTN"). "
Curious what your thoughts are.
asked byPatrick_6 (576)
Get FREE instant access to our Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!
on December 05, 2011
at 12:10 PM
Atkins had an admitted heart condition of some sort. I don't remember the type, but it was something congenital not diet-related ... or that's what he said. What I've always been bothered by was his weight. It is claimed that he weighed 198 on admission but ballooned up 60 lbs in a week. To me, this is not believable since they would have been administering diuretics if anything as they worked to relieve fluid/pressure in his brain. So was he following his own diet? If not, why not? If so, it wasn't working too well for him. If he had such great faith that his diet was good for him and others, and wasn't atherogenic, he should have left advance direction to release his autopsy records if ever one was performed. Just a thought.
on December 05, 2011
at 12:40 PM
From USA Today
Statement by Veronica Atkins on the illegal distribution of personal medical information regarding her late husband Dr. Robert C. Atkins:
"New York, NY, February 9, 2004???I have always assumed that my husband's personal medical history is private and of no concern or relevance to the media or general public. Prior to today, I have not seen any reason to share Dr. Atkins' private information with the public. I am sure that any one of you would be offended and perhaps even horrified to have complete strangers intrude into your personal family matters, especially with regard to something as intimate as your medical records or those of your loved one.
It has now become clear to me that if I don't speak out, unscrupulous individuals will continue to twist and pervert the truth in an attempt to destroy the reputation and great work of my late husband. These individuals have gone so far as to obtain my husband's personal and confidential medical information from the New York City Medical Examiner's office for distribution to news organizations in direct and knowing violation of federal law. Obviously such people will have no trouble picking and choosing bits and pieces of fact and supposition to mislead the world.
But here is the truth: my husband's medical records have been reviewed by knowledgeable doctors and his medical condition discussed with cardiac specialists. It is clear that Dr. Atkins developed a condition called cardiomyopathy approximately three years prior to his death. It is also true that when Robert developed cardiomyopathy his coronary arteries showed only minimal and clinically insignificant signs of coronary artery disease, consistent with what would be expected in a 69-year old man. Cardiomyopathy is a serious and progressive condition and was, I have been told, in Robert's case, caused by a viral infection. Though this condition significantly weakened his heart, its cause was clearly related to an infection and not his diet.
All of this was well documented and openly discussed by Robert himself on national television. Additionally, as Dr. Atkins explained on Larry King Live and other public appearances, he did have a witnessed cardiac arrest in April of 2002. All accounts and records related to this event, and the insight of his treating cardiologist, are consistent with conditions arising from his cardiomyopathy, rather than a lack of blood flow. While Robert did have some progression of his coronary artery disease in the last three years of his life including some new blockage of a secondary artery that was remedied during this admission, he did not have a heart attack.
There is no evidence to suggest otherwise and for any physician to suggest so would be irresponsible, unethical and represent nothing more than an attempt to tarnish the reputation of a man who dedicated his life to solving one of medicines greatest challenges ??? the obesity epidemic. Let me state emphatically that I have been assured by my husband's physicians that my husband's health problems late in life were completely unrelated to his diet or any diet.
It is also clear that my husband's death resulted from a serious head injury that occurred April 8th, 2003. Hospital records obviously and unequivocally detail the unfortunate clinical course that transpired following arrival of Emergency Medical Services through the entirety of hospitalization, confirming that after losing consciousness en route to the hospital, Robert's condition failed to improve despite emergency neurosurgical treatment for bleeding within his head. In life, Dr. Atkins was adamant about not wanting life support and when his wishes were honored, and ventilator life support was withdrawn on April 17th, he passed away as has been widely reported in the media.
But it has become clear to me that something as simple as the truth will be perverted and manipulated by dishonest individuals who will stop at nothing and will proceed without any regard for medical ethics or the previously private medical history of Dr. Atkins in an attempt not only to discredit my husband's work but to profit from his death. Work, I might add, that has been consistently and repeatedly vindicated by 18 independent scientific studies over these past three years. I now find myself in the uncomfortable position of having to relive his horrific accident and defend my late husband from people who would convince you that stolen and irrelevant bits and pieces of Dr. Atkins' medical history carry more validity than published scientifically controlled and peer reviewed research out of Harvard, Duke University, the American Heart Association and the National Institutes of Health.
It is for these reasons that I realized that I must put aside my grief and pain and speak out. Make no mistake about it, Dr. Atkins, at the end of life, was struggling with the effects of his cardiomyopathy and did not hide that fact. Despite repeated, often pathetic and now even illegal attempts by his most bizarre and extreme detractors to make the health of this 72 year old man THE central issue in the all important obesity debate raging in this country and around the world, it is not and never will be relevant. It is a sad and distracting sideshow, taking time away from an intelligent debate of the known science.
We should all ask, is caring about what someone else eats so important that some doctors are willing to betray their most basic of oaths, to protect a patient's dignity and confidentiality? It is time to forget the myths and urban legends perpetuated by extremists like those who acted unethically in disclosing my husband's records and pay more attention to the real issues and all available peer reviewed science.
I will do my utmost to put an end to this nonsense so that responsible physicians can focus on a debate rooted in fact and moderation and objectivity. We will not engage in espionage, tabloid journalism, or try to shout louder than these shameless individuals and I look forward to the day when Dr. Atkins' soul can rest in peace and I can grieve uninterrupted.
Statement by Stuart Trager, M.D., Chair, Atkins Physicians Council on February 10, 2004
Report on Dr. Atkins Weight at the time of his death:
"New York, NY, February 10, 2004???Today's Wall Street Journal ran a story on the health of > Dr. Robert Atkins and grossly distorted and inaccurately reported information that Dr. Atkins was obese at the time of his death. In fact, up until the time he became comatose and lay in the hospital for two weeks. Dr. Atkins' average weight was actually 60 pounds less than reported in the Journal. The newspaper article was based on incomplete personal medical records that were illegally delivered to the newspaper in violation of federal law, coming from a known group of Vegan and animal rights extremists.
Dr. Atkins' weight was consistently and frequently documented in the years and months prior to his fall; as he was suffering from cardiomyopathy, his health was monitored closely. Due to water retention, this robust 6-foot plus man, who competitively played tennis frequently during the week, had a weight that varied between 180 and 195. During his coma, as he deteriorated and his major organs failed, fluid retention and bloating dramatically distorted his body and left him at 258 pounds at the time of his death, a documented weight gain of over 60 pounds. How and why the Journal reported that he was obese, remains the only unanswered question in this pathetic situation.
Any implication that Dr. Atkins was obese or fat prior to his coma, shows a blatant disregard or even worse, lack of understanding of the medical facts surrounding this case, or of the physiology of severe heart failure and the degree of fluid retention that occurred during this hospitalization. None of us would expect the physicians at PCRM to reveal this in light of their past and their current motivation ... but surely as physicians they understood that this was not obesity, I guess it just didn't support the point they cared to convey ... so they chose to ignore it?"
I'm pretty sure that there is some agenda in this question and in certain answers. The facts are all there for everyone to see. And this isn't really a question related to Paleo, is it? It would be nice if Paleohacks could be a site where we stuck to science and applied the same moderation rules to all. Too bad this is not the case...
on December 05, 2011
at 01:44 PM
Yes, there were lame attempts to discredit his diet by spreading rumors about how he died. As if one man's health and death prove anything anyway, out of the context of an entire life and genetic history. Neither Atkins or anyone else has ever claimed that low-carb would guarantee health, slimness, and longevity for everyone; so to trumpet his cause of death (whether true or not) or his dying weight is a straw man, and a particularly offensive one under the circumstances.
I'm 42 years old. For the first 18 years of my life, I ate a comparatively healthy SAD of the type Americans ate in the 1950s: plenty of meat and animal fats like lard, garden vegetables, not much soda or candy, but homemade dessert every day (which included a fair amount of vegetable oils and margarine) and lots of starches in the form of bread, potatoes, and pasta. I always considered myself a little pudgy -- always hated shirts-versus-skins in junior high, due to developing man-boobs -- though it doesn't show in pictures of my face at the time. From 18-23 or so, I went hog-wild on carbs and fast food, some days subsisting on nothing but pizza, chips, and Mountain Dew. The pudginess became definite fat. There were also large quantities of alcohol, and at one point when trying to stay awake long hours managing a pizza store, I started taking caffeine/ephedrine pills. A bad case of mono put a stop to the alcohol and the long hours for a while, and I cut out caffeine entirely, but continued to eat plenty of garbage. At about 23 years old, a chiropractor tested me for allergies (something I'm still not convinced really works) and came up with all the "white" foods: flour, potatoes, rice, etc. I didn't even know what a carb was at the time, to recognize that's what they all were, but I cut out those things and started feeling better, losing some weight and beginning to exercise (in that order). At 26, I changed jobs and cities, started drinking a lot again, and went back to more of a SAD diet, but stayed off the caffeine and worst stuff -- and gained weight. At about 30 or so, I discovered low-carb (Protein Power first, I think; I was never that fond of Atkins specifically), and started losing weight. I've been inconsistently low-carb since then, interspersing periods of low-carb and weight loss with hopeful attempts to add more carbs back into my diet (and gaining weight) or outright cheating when things aren't going well in my life. A year or so ago, I cut out gluten, which cleared up the last 10% of my headaches (low-carb got rid of the first 90%, but I'd still get one now and then for no apparent reason). I rarely drink anymore, but now I'm on a daily amphetamine for ADHD. I had my blood work done a couple years ago when I'd been consistently low-carb for a while, and my lipids were fine -- a high enough total to scare the brainwashed, but with good rations and right in the sweet spot of correlation with overall mortality, but some thyroid numbers were odd.
Now, the point of all that exposition is this: The one thing everyone knows about me now is that I eat low-carb. They don't all know about the heavy drinking in the past, or what I ate as a child, or whether I was breastfed, or how often I give in to a bag of potato chips when no one's looking. But they all know (no matter how much I explain the subtleties) that I "don't eat carbs." So, if I have a heart attack tomorrow, guess what they're all going to think. "All that fat gave him a heart attack." "He should have eaten more healthy grains." It won't matter if it was really caused by a congenital condition, or stress, or the way I lived and ate 10 or 20 years ago. They'll blame it on the diet, because that's what everyone believes about it right now, and you'll never get fired for buying IBM.
on December 05, 2011
at 03:30 PM
Dr. Atkins died of complications from a massive head injury after his loved ones saw him fight for his life for nearly two weeks. His work was my gateway from WAPF to Paleo, and he will forever be one of my nutrition heroes.
on December 06, 2011
at 07:58 AM
The most likely explanation for Dr. Atkins' weight gain, imho, is one which any nurse who has ever worked in critical care, either ER or ICU, has sadly seen too many times.
Dr. Atkins "mysterious" (not!) and very large weight gain was most likely due to a combination of massive third spacing of fluid into the area between the fascia and skin and probable abdominal compartment syndrome as well.
Abdominal compartment syndrome is what I'd call a more localized version of widespread, total body third spacing of fluid. Patients in critical care settings, particularly those who have suffered trauma, as he did in his fall, or who have had certain kinds of surgeries, as well as many other critical medical conditions are at risk for these complications of treatment.
Patients who are treated in ERs for trauma and must be infused many liters of blood or fluids are at very, very high risk for third spacing of fluids. Likewise, those who have serious neuro trauma, as Atkins did, (think of the brain as the regulator that it is, which includes regulation of fluid balance) and those who have serious cardiac issues, such as cardiomyopathy, are also at obvious higher risk. Cardiomyopathy, in and of itself can lead to hypoperfusion of major organs...and hypoperfusion of major organs can lead to third spacing of fluids and electrolyte imbalances. Those with neurosurgeries are also at higher risk.And third spacing will also contribute to already existing hypoperfusion in this scenario.
The idea that this level of dysregulation, and ultimately, multiple organ system failure can be simply treated with "diuretics" is a very facile, uninformed idea. Part of the big problem with massive third spacing is that you have a person who is infact HYPOvolemic in the intracellular spaces and thus the person has a high heart rate, a low BP, and is often not making enough urine and is not breathing well, particularly if they have abdominal compartment syndrome. This all becomes a vicious cycle as the graphic in the provided link demonstrates. The odds of NOT surviving this, as a critically ill person, are very great.
Additionally, it is also not unusual for critical patients with substantial neuro insults and or surgeries, to suffer very rapid declines in nutritional status. They can become very malnourished in a matter of days, rather than weeks. This only adds to the issue as blood levels like albumin/protein drop which further aggravate the third spacing of fluids and fluid and electrolyte imbalances are part and parcel of the picture.
Some of the the most heartbreaking situations I have seen are family members who live far away seeing a person who dies in ICU after developing massive third spacing. Their shock and grief are made nearly unbearable by the surreal human before them, who was formerly "Jack Sprat" all his life, and now looks like a monster edition of the Pillsbury Dough Boy inflated over his entire body, to the point of near bursting.
I have seen trauma patients resusitated in the ER gain 20+ lbs in a few hours. And yes, it is fluid, not fat, of course. I have measured the abdominal girths, as well as arms, thighs, etc on many, many patients, as well as weighed them daily, who were severely third spacing fluids and fighting for their lives.And I have also stopped measuring them when multiple organs failed, they'd been on a ventilator for weeks, and loved ones made the decision to provide supportive care only, in the face of looming death. I have certainly weighed persons who in a week or two were blown up beyond recognition and were 40-50 lbs heavier in the end, due to third spaced fluids.
Neurogenic shock and cardiogenic shock, as well as hypoperfusion are no little things.
What an awful, awful way for Dr. Atkins to die.
And what an awful thing for his wife to have to go through - seeing her husband of many year turn into a discolored, massively bloated, unrecognizable distortion before her eyes, and then having to deal with all the drama spinners. How very, very sad.