Omega-3s May Improve Healing After a Heart Attack

Article Source: Health And Fitness Journal

By Dr. Mercola

Mounting research drives home the importance of animal-based omega-3 fats for heart health. After reviewing this topic carefully, I am now convinced that maintaining a healthy level of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) may be one of the most important food priorities.

DHA is a 22 carbon omega-3 fat from seafood. Omega-3 fats can be obtained from both marine animal and plant sources, but contrary to popular belief, they are NOT interchangeable.

Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an 18-carbon omega-3 fat found in plants like flax and chia seeds does convert to DHA, but typically less than 1 to 3 percent, which is nowhere near the amount you need for brain and heart health.

While plant and animal omega-3 fats are important for health, the animal-based DHA is the one most strongly associated with heart health and other important health benefits.

Additionally, DHA through its electron cloud, has the ability to turn light directly into DC electric current, which is particularly important for establishing your biological clock and circadian rhythm.

DHA and EPA Protect Your Heart Health

Recent research suggests eating fatty fish and other omega-3 rich foods, including certain plant-based sources, may lower your risk of a fatal heart attack (myocardial infarction) by about 10 percent.1,2,3 Taken AFTER a heart attack, omega-3 fats can also significantly improve your odds of survival.

One large trial found that heart attack survivors who took 1 gram of omega-3 fat each day for three years had a 50 percent reduced chance of sudden cardiac death.4 Another recent placebo controlled study5 found that high doses of omega-3 supplementation helps your heart heal after a heart attack.6,7,8,9,10

A total of 360 heart attack patients were divided into two groups. The treatment group took 4 grams of the prescription omega-3 fish oil called Lovaza. The placebo group received corn oil. After six months, the treatment group showed a 5.6 percent reduction in scarring of undamaged heart muscle.

Their hearts were also better able to pump blood compared to the controls. That said, it may be worth noting that corn oil is a terrible placebo. Placebos are supposed to be completely inert, like water. Corn oil is actually a harmful industrially processed GMO-contaminated omega-6 fat that clearly adversely affects your heart.

I don’t say this to diminish the results, but it’s been shown that prescription omega-3, due to it being a semi-synthetic form of marine omega-3 that is bound to ethyl esters,11 tends to have a poor absorption rate compared to natural triglyceride forms (such as fish oil or krill oil).12

Using a corn oil placebo could therefore make the drug appear more potent than it really is. According to Reuters:13

“Some people are better able to absorb and utilize fish oil, and those with the biggest increase in red blood cell levels of omega-3 levels had a 13 percent reduction in leftover blood in the left ventricle, compared to a 6 percent reduction for the fish oil group overall.”

Animal-Based Omega-3 Benefits Heart Health in Many Ways

Animal-based omega-3 fats, especially DHA, benefit your cardiovascular health in a number of different ways, by:

? Lowering blood pressure

? Lowering triglyceride concentrations

? Improving endothelial function (which helps promote growth of new blood vessels)

? Counteracting or preventing cardiac arrhythmia

? Helping prevent thrombosis (a blood clot within a blood vessel)

? Preventing fatty deposits and fibrosis of the inner layer of your arteries

? Counteracting inflammation

Other Health Benefits of Omega-3 Fats

Your heart is by no means the only organ that needs omega-3s for optimal functioning. These healthy fats are also important for digestion, muscle activity, blood clotting, visual acuity, memory and learning, and basic cell division and function of cell receptors. For example, research suggests omega-3s are important for:

? Healthy, strong bones

? Mood regulation

? Reducing your risk of Parkinson’s disease

? Reducing your risk of death from ALL causes

? Protecting your tissues and organs from inflammation

? Brain and eye development in babies, and preventing premature delivery

? Reducing your risk of Alzheimer’s disease

? Delaying progression to psychosis among patients at high risk for schizophrenia

? Protecting against osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis (RA)14,15,16

? Protecting against metabolic syndrome,17 including obesity, fatty liver18 and type 2 diabetes (by reducing inflammation and blood sugar)

? Improvement in premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and dysmenorrhea19

? Lowering your risk for neurological/cognitive dysfunction, including: memory loss, brain aging, learning disorders and ADHD,20 autism and dyslexia21

? Reducing your risk of Crohn’s disease

? Reducing your risk of colon cancer.22

Colon cancer patients who consumed a minimum of 0.3 grams of omega-3 from fish each day also reduced their risk of dying over the next decade by 41 percent23

? Reducing your risk of kidney disease24

? Reducing your risk of autoimmune disorders, such as lupus and nephropathy

There Are Crucial Differences Between Animal- and Plant-Based Omega-3s

As mentioned earlier, there are important differences between marine-animal and plant-based omega-3s:25,26,27,28,29

? Marine animal-based omega-3

Sources: Fatty fish (such as salmon, anchovies, sardines and herring), fish and krill oils.

Primary omega-3 content: DHA and EPA, long-chained polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) consisting of 22 and 20 carbons respectively, which your body can readily use.

Biological effects: DHA and EPA are structural elements with many biological effects, most notably anti-inflammatory activity and communication within the cell and between cells. DHA is especially important, as it is a component of every cell in your body.

More than 90 percent of the omega-3 fat found in brain tissue is DHA, making it very important for brain health. All other omega-3 fats are found only in trace amounts, including ALA, regardless of how much ALA you consume.30

EPA and DHA also likely play a role in helping your body properly utilize sunlight. They also have a profoundly important influence on mitochondrial health.

? Plant-based omega-3

Sources: Certain plants, such as flaxseed, chia seeds, nuts (especially walnuts) and leafy greens.

Primary omega-3 content: ALA: a shorter-chained PUFA consisting of 18 carbons. Plant-derived omega-3s are devoid of EPA/DHA.

ALA is a precursor to EPA and DHA. However, an enzyme is required to convert the shorter 18 carbon ALA into long-chained omega-3. In most people, this enzyme doesn’t work very well and hence the conversion rate is exceptionally small.

Typically, less than 1 percent of the ALA is converted to DHA.31 Your conversion is also dependent on having adequate levels of other vitamins and minerals.

So, while a tiny amount of the ALA you consume can be converted by your body into long-chain omega-3, it’s a highly inefficient strategy and nowhere near as helpful as supplying DHA and EPA from marine sources.

Biological effects: Source of energy (fat).

As you can see, ALA is primarily a source of energy, while EPA and DHA are structural elements. So EPA and DHA are not just “food;” they’re elements that actually make up your cells, and those are two completely different functions. EPA and DHA are extensively distributed throughout your body, including your heart and brain, which is why deficiency is so detrimental to your brain and heart function.

Moreover, research shows there are specific transporters in your blood-brain barrier, the placenta (in pregnant women) and likely also in your liver, which transport the EPA and DHA molecules in a very precise way into the cell membranes where they belong.

Why I Recommend Krill Oil Over Fish Oil

Total Video Length: 5:40

Fatty fish and fish oil have long been the go-to sources for animal-based omega-3 fat. Krill oil is a more recent source, and research suggests it has a number of benefits over fish and fish oil. One of the most important differences is that fish oil is bound to triglycerides and methyl esters while krill oil is bound to triglycerides and phospholipids.

Esters aren’t efficiently absorbed whereas phospholipids are. The fact that krill oil is bound to phospholipids makes its EPA and DHA more bioavailable than fish oil. Phospholipids are in fact extremely important for life, as this membrane is required for everything that makes up a cell.

Phospholipids are also one of the principal compounds in high-density lipoproteins (HDL), which you want more of, and by allowing your cells to maintain structural integrity, phospholipids help your cells function properly. (You can learn more about this in the video above.) Krill oil is also able to efficiently cross your blood-brain barrier to reach important brain structures.

In fish oil, the omega-3s are attached to triglycerides and esters that must be broken down in your gut to its base fatty acids of DHA and EPA. About 80 to 85 percent is simply eliminated in your intestine. Another reason for the superior bioavailability of krill oil has to do with the fact that it contains phosphatidyl choline (a precursor for the vital neurotransmitter acetylcholine).

When you consume fish oil, your liver has to attach it to phosphatidyl choline in order for it to be utilized by your body. Your liver can skip this step when you take krill oil, as the phosphatidyl choline is already in there.

Other Features That Make Krill Oil a Superior Choice

Please remember my primary recommendation for increasing your DHA levels is healthy seafood. However, if you are unable to do that for whatever reason and choose to use a supplement, then there are other considerations. Phospholipids are just the beginning. Studies have revealed krill oil differs from fish oil in a number of important ways. For example:

Krill oil is more potent than fish oil. This means you need far less of it than fish oil, as confirmed by a 2011 study.32 Researchers gave subjects less than 63 percent as much krill-based EPA/DHA as the fish oil group, yet both groups showed equivalent blood levels.

Krill oil has superior influence on your metabolism and genetic expression. Genes have “switches” that can be flipped on and off, which control virtually every biochemical process in your body, and nutrients like omega-3 fats control those switches.

Fatty acids also help to direct metabolic processes such as glucose production, lipid synthesis, cellular energy, oxidation and dozens of others. By stimulating certain mitochondrial metabolic pathways, including fatty acid oxidation, respiratory chain complexes and the Krebs cycle, krill oil helps restore healthy mitochondrial energy metabolism.

Various types and sources of omega-3 fat affect liver tissue differently, which is what a 2011 study33 was designed to examine. It compared the livers of mice fed krill oil to those fed fish oil by looking at the gene expression triggered by each. Although both fish oil and krill oil contain omega-3s, they differ greatly in how they affect the genes controlling your metabolism. Krill oil: 34,35

? Enhances glucose metabolism in your liver, whereas fish oil does not

? Promotes lipid metabolism; fish oil does not

? Helps regulate the mitochondrial respiratory chain; fish oil does not

? Decreases cholesterol synthesis, whereas fish oil increases it

Krill oil also resists oxidation, whereas fish oil is quite prone to oxidation, which in turn leads to the formation of free radicals — not what you’re looking for when taking an omega-3 supplement! Fish oil is also low in antioxidants whereas krill oil contains astaxanthin, which is currently thought to be among the most potent antioxidants in nature. This is in large part what makes krill oil so stable and resistant to oxidation.

Last but not least, while fish are prone to all sorts of contamination, courtesy of water pollution, Antarctic krill are not prone to such contamination. Not only are they harvested from cleaner waters, but since krill are at the bottom of the food chain, they feed on phytoplankton, as opposed to other contaminated fish.

Krill are also far more sustainable than fish because they’re the largest biomass in the world. Harvesting of krill is also carefully regulated, and only 1 to 2 percent of the total krill biomass is harvested each year.

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Dosing Suggestions and the Importance of Maintaining a Healthy Omega-3 to Omega-6 Balance

As you increase your intake of animal-based omega-3 fats, the EPA and DHA content in your red blood cells increase. As your omega-3 ratio increases in the cell, it “pushes out” omega-6 at a ratio of about 1 to 1. While you need some omega-6 fats, most people get FAR too much of it in their diet these days.

Consumption of soybean oil, which is almost exclusively omega-6, rose 1,000-fold between 1909 and 1999. Modern processing and refinement add to the problem as it damages the omega-6 fats. In my view, it’s reasonable to assume this massive increase in damaged omega-6 oils has significantly contributed to our current epidemics of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.

In terms of how much omega-3 fat you need, there’s been a lack of reliable ways of measuring them. The best way to measure your omega-3 level is using an Omega-3 Index test, which measures the omega-3 in your red blood cells. Your index should ideally be above 8 percent. So to customize your dosage, get your level measured and then adjust your dosage until you reach this optimal level.

I believe the Omega-3 Index test can be an enormously important health screen, and it’s commercially available. As with vitamin D, getting your level tested is really the best way to customize your dosage to ensure sufficiency, because requirements for omega-3 will vary depending on your lifestyle: your intake of fatty fish, for example, and your level of physical activity.

Athletes tend to burn off their omega-3 quite rapidly, as the DHA gets burned as fuel rather than being used as a structural component of their cell membranes. Hence they will need higher dosages.

That said, a general recommendation is to take about 2 grams of krill oil per day. With fatty fish, two to three servings a week may be sufficient. Keep in mind that not all fish contain EPA and DHA though! Only fatty fish caught in cold waters will have these fats. Good examples include wild-caught Alaskan Salmon, sardines and anchovies.

Setting the Record Straight on Plant- and Marine-Based Omega-3s

To recap, it’s really important to realize that you cannot trade animal-based omega-3 for plant-based omega-3. Even if you take large amounts of plant-based omega-3 it simply will not provide you with the raw materials you need for health. This strategy doesn’t work because your body cannot convert enough ALA into DHA and EPA.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who believe that. Even many health professionals have fallen for this misconception. If you’re in this camp, I strongly urge you to reconsider. If you’re an unwavering vegetarian and refuse to eat either fish or krill, you could potentially obtain some EPA and DHA from eating algae, although there are open questions about algae as a clean, healthy source.

Some vegans choose to use a marine-based DHA supplement extracted from algae. While this will certainly increase DHA levels, I believe it is far from ideal as it is highly concentrated, processed and unnatural. When we consume DHA from seafood it is accompanied by a wide variety of other long chain animal fats like EPA, but many others. Our body requires the balance of these fats in the proper ratios, and processed DHA from algae simply doesn’t provide that.

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Change the Game by Taking Control of Your Health

Article Source: Health And Fitness Journal

By Dr. Mercola

This website was created 19 years ago, in 1997, when I combined my two primary passions in life — health and technology — and made it my mission to share exciting new developments in natural health with a wider audience.

Thanks to you, this site has become one of the most visited natural health websites in the world for the last 12 years, with more than 10 million unique visitors each month and more than 80 million unique visitors annually.

Because of your loyal support, we’ve slowly but surely awakened the world to the false promises of the fatally flawed conventional medical view, which claims disease is best treated with drugs, and that the government knows what’s best for your health and should be allowed to dictate your health options.

In the video above,  I discuss my own journey toward health, which ultimately led me to my present day philosophies and recommendations.

This video and article were initially published during last year’s anniversary week. It was a big hit, and since we’ve had a significant influx of new subscribers since then, I’m rerunning it for those who missed it.

Learning Through Experience

Experience is a formidable teacher, and much of what I’m teaching today grew out of the lessons I learned as I tried to get healthier. I made plenty of mistakes, and fell for many of the lies, deceptions and confusion of conventional medicine.

Like so many others, I grew up eating cereal for breakfast, and I fully believed margarine was healthy. My diet was high in carbs and sugars and low in fat, and there’s little doubt this played a significant role in dental decay, which I struggled with throughout a large portion of my life.

By the time I was an adult, I had a mouth full of amalgam fillings. Eventually, I discovered the truth about amalgam — that it’s actually 50 percent mercury — and in 2009 I approached Charlie Brown (president of the Alliance for Mercury Free Dentistry) at a Health Freedom Expo in Chicago.

At that event, I offered to partner with him to raise awareness about mercury in dentistry and to help get this toxin out of dentistry for good.

It’s been a highly successful partnership, and on October 10, 2013, a legally binding international treaty to control the use of this toxic metal was signed into action, thanks largely to the work of The Campaign for Mercury-Free Dentistry, the project organized and led by Charlie Brown.

The treaty, named the United Nations Minamata Convention on Mercury, requires the phasing out of many mercury-containing products by 2020.

Importantly, the treaty marks the beginning of the end for dental amalgam around the world, as it mandates each nation phase down amalgam use, effective immediately.

Since then, I’ve partnered with a number of select health and research organizations that are true health advocates and educators, including GrassrootsHealth, Fluoride Action Network (FAN), National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), Institute for Responsible Technology (IRT), and the Organic Consumers Association (OCA).

Together, we’ve formed a nonprofit coalition known as Health Liberty, dedicated to improving fundamental education to all on important health, food safety, and informed consent issues.

A Lifelong Passion for Exercise Got Me Into Medicine

My mother instilled in me a passion for reading. In 1968 I picked up Dr. Ken Cooper’s book, “Aerobics,” which sparked a lifelong passion for exercise as I have been exercising regularly for the last 48 years, never taking more than a few days off at any one time. 

Cooper actually designed the exercise program for the NASA astronauts, but aside from keeping astronauts fit in an anti-gravity environment, exercise wasn’t viewed very favorably down here on Earth.

When I first took up running, people would throw things at me because they thought I was some kind of hooligan or criminal running from the scene of a crime! People simply did not run “for no reason” back in the ‘60s.

I was a freshman in high school when the first man landed on the moon. Along with the rest of the nation, this event captured my attention and I decided I wanted to be an astronaut. The quickest way to do that was to join the Air Force Academy.

Unfortunately, it was tough getting a congressional appointment to get in, so in the meantime, I continued my education, focusing on engineering. I later switched to pre-med — in large part because I was so excited about exercise and health.

At the very beginning of med school, one of my professors told our class that by the time we graduated, most of what we were being taught would be outdated or obsolete.

The key element of our education was really teaching us how to learn, and that has stuck with me ever since. I never reached a point where I thought I know it all and don’t need to learn any more. In essence, med school taught me how to become a perpetual student, and that attitude has served me well.

Unfortunately, most doctors ignore that message and get stuck practicing what in essence is outdated medicine.

Nutrition as Medicine

Conventional medicine is excellent at diagnosing disease, but where it fails miserably is in the treatment approaches. It typically focuses on treating the symptoms, not the root cause, and it does so using toxic drugs that frequently cause problems that are more dangerous than the original complaint.

The discovery of nutrition as a method of healing was nothing short of revolutionary for me. It really opened my eyes and gave me a whole different perspective on health and healing.

I began scouring the medical and lay literature on nutrition, and started attending conferences on alternative healing modalities, typically every month, to acquire the knowledge and skills to help people heal.

I would then apply what I’d learned in my medical practice and get tremendous results — so much so I finally reached the point where I said, “This stuff really works!” and with that, I made a commitment to practice medicine without drugs.

When I notified my patients of this new direction, 70 percent of them left. They were unwilling to quit using the drugs they were on and to address their health problems with nutrition and other lifestyle changes.

This turned out to be a blessing, as the patients I had left really wanted to get better and were willing to do the work. Eventually, word spread about their healing successes, and over the years I ended up treating patients from all over the world.

Staying Ahead of the Curve

Over the past 19 years, I’ve often been among the first in the media to communicate common-sense strategies of healing and staying well naturally to the wider audience. The truth is your body has an innate ability to heal. It is designed to move toward health and away from disease, provided you give it the basic support it needs in terms of nutrition, physical movement, exposure to sunlight, etc.

For example, I began talking about the importance of vitamin D for health beyond rickets back in 2000, and have warned people about the adverse effects of shunning sun exposure for over 16 years. Thankfully the medical literature has now firmly established that vitamin D is essential for health, and that deficiency plays a role in dozens of chronic diseases.

Sixteen years ago I also began blowing the whistle on genetically engineered (GE) foods, warning people to avoid them in order to protect their health. Now, the public discussion about GE foods has finally been brought to the fore, and grassroots efforts have led to ballot initiatives to label genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in dozens of states, with major media outlets like National Geographic reporting that genetically engineered foods are a dangerous fraud.

Fight Against Mercury and Fluoride Continues

In 1998, I warned my readers to avoid dentists who still use mercury amalgams in their practice, having learned that painful lesson myself. Amalgams really have no place in modern dentistry. It’s an antiquated practice, and it simply makes no sense to place a known neurotoxin inches away from your brain. As noted earlier, the international treaty on mercury now heralds the beginning of the end of mercury in dentistry.

Also in 1998, I began writing about the hazards of water fluoridation, pointing out that fluoride is a toxic drug that accumulates in your body and can destroy human enzymes. Since then, the evidence against fluoride as a panacea for dental caries has only gotten stronger, and the fight to get fluoride out of municipal water supplies continues. Here, we’re partnered with FAN, which is intent (as am I) to eliminate fluoride from drinking water not just in the U.S., but around the world.

As all of these examples show, it usually takes a decade or more to reverse deeply ingrained medical myths, no matter how unscientific their basis. But eventually, the truth does tend to prevail, and I believe it’s only a matter of time before water fluoridation is seen for what it really is — one of the biggest public health blunders in U.S. history, opposed to being one of the greatest public health achievements of the 20th century.

Last year, the U.S. government finally admitted Americans have been overexposed to fluoride, and for the first time since 1962 lowered the recommended level of fluoride in drinking water. It’s not enough, but it’s a move in the right direction. I’ve also begun working with an organization in Mexico that is developing a low-tech fluoride removal system that even poorer rural communities will be able to use to make their drinking water safer.

Early Warnings Issued — Years in Advance

In 2006, I began warning about the artificial sweetener aspartame, convinced it was one of the most dangerous additives in the food supply. Since then, the medical literature has become filled with studies demonstrating its harmful effects. Not only do artificial sweeteners actually promote obesity, they also worsen diabetes, and it’s fraught with side effects. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received more health complaints stemming from aspartame than ALL other food additives combined.

I was the first in the media to issue a stern warning against Vioxx. In 1999 I uncovered a study that showed people taking this drug were at massively increased risk of dying from heart disease and stroke, and I published this information in my newsletter.

I actually issued the first public warning about Vioxx while it was still in clinical trials — a year before it became available by prescription. I predicted Vioxx would be pulled from the market once the increased cardiac deaths were finally recognized and, indeed, that’s exactly what happened. But not before more than 60,000 people had died from taking the blockbuster drug.

Take Control of Your Health, for Life!

I would encourage anyone who feels skeptical to really evaluate the evidence and put some of these healthy lifestyle principles to the test, because the ultimate proof for most people is their own experience. It either works or it doesn’t.  You feel better and get healthier, or you don’t. My mantra is “Take Control of Your Health,” and my goal is to teach you how to get off the merry-go-round of drugs, which typically treat only the symptoms while actually deteriorating your health.

Drugs can also be lethal, and even when properly prescribed and administered they kill hundreds of thousands of people each year. My message is: there are safer, less expensive alternatives that can truly address the root cause of your disease. Invariably, reclaiming health and treating disease involves addressing your diet, exercise and other lifestyle factors, most of which cost little or nothing.

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The Amazing Coincidence That Brought A Physician And Patient Together Across The Country

Article Source: Health And Fitness Journal

As the new medical director of admissions for St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute in Spokane, Washington, it is my job to review all patient referrals to our hospital. Imagine my astonishment when, while traveling to New Orleans, I received an email about a patient at Tulane Medical Center who was requesting admission to St. Luke’s. This dear lady was from Spokane, but had fallen ill while visiting her family on the other side of the country, in Louisiana.

I quickly discovered via Google Maps that she was in a hospital bed only three blocks from my hotel room. I called the case manager and nurse at Tulane and asked if it was OK for me to stop by the patient’s room for an interview. They were surprised to hear that a consult physician from Washington was going to meet their patient in person, but thought it would be fine.

When I arrived, the patient’s son greeted me. He was pacing the halls, worrying about how he was going to get his mom home. There was only one direct flight per week, and it was scheduled for the next day. He had booked the ticket on Southwest Airlines on a lark.

I explained that I was from St. Luke’s, the facility that he hoped would admit his mom for further care.

He was dumbfounded. “What are you doing in New Orleans?” he asked.

“I’m here on a business trip,” I said, “and I heard your mom needed rehab. I wanted to look in on her and make sure she’s ready to transfer home. I reviewed her chart and she seems to be a perfect candidate.”

He smiled and sputtered that he thought the case managers had just sent out the referral request a few hours prior. “How on earth did you get here so quickly?” he marveled.

I explained that email and digital chart access make a big difference these days and reassured him that his mom would likely be able to catch her flight the next morning.

As I entered the patient’s room, I introduced myself as a doctor from St. Luke’s in Spokane, who had come to see if she was ready for admission. She looked at me with bright, quizzical eyes.

“I thought this was going to take weeks,” she said. “I was in such a state. I prayed that God would find a way to get me home just a few hours ago, and now you’re here. This must be divine intervention.”

I smiled and briefly examined her, noting a PICC line and Foley catheter. She wrote me a list of “must eats” in New Orleans and explained where I could find the best fried oysters and po’boy sandwiches. Her attending physician then came in, accompanied by a medical resident. The resident explained that I was here from the accepting facility in Washington state.

“This never happens,” the attending stated, matter-of-factly.

“It’s a crazy coincidence. I am the admissions director, and I happened to be three blocks from here when I received an email about this patient,” I said. “I reviewed a copy of your medical records and believe she is an excellent rehab candidate. Because I was right around the corner, I figured I’d facilitate her transfer in person. It’d be great if we could leave her lines and tubes in for the trip. … I’d like to give you my card, in case you have other patients who need rehab in Spokane.”

The attending chuckled as she looked at my business card. “I’m not sure how many others we’ll be sending your way.”

“You never know.”

Dr. Val Jones and patient Patricia Crocker-Fox in Spokane, WA.

The patient transferred to St. Luke’s the very next morning, arriving before I did. She made an excellent recovery, and after three weeks of hard work, she was able to stand and walk again.

She gave me permission to write about this amazing journey, and I had a hospital friend take a photo of us together on her final day at St. Luke’s, next to a full-scale replica of the same Southwest Airlines airplane in which she traveled to us from New Orleans. We use it in our gym to help patients with injuries and disabilities practice getting in and out of airplanes. Southwest Airlines donated it to us some time ago — yet another coincidence!

Stories like these make me glad to be a physician. I love knowing that I may be called upon at any time — wherever I am — to help people in extraordinary ways.

And yes, I did gain about five pounds on my trip. What can I say? I simply had to take my patient’s advice on Cajun delicacies before I flew home!

**This post was originally published on the Barton Associates Blog.**

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