My name is Andrew Schneider and this is my story about my battle with severe congestive heart failure and cardiomyopathy. It is the story of how I was treated by the medical profession and how I used vitamins and nutrients to cure myself from a non curable disease in under a year and half. My goal is to have as many people who suffer from congestive heart failure and cardiomyopathy to hear my story.
It all started in early 2006. I was a healthy 32 year old man who worked out regularly, kept active, and enjoyed all of the outdoor activities indigenous to sunny South Florida. I was the co- founder of a very successful company, HedgeCo Networks.
In April of 2006, I came down with bronchitis. It was going around at that time, so I didn’t think anything of it. I went to my primary care doctor who prescribed antibiotics along with some cough syrup. He also did a CAT scan. The CAT scan showed I had an enlarged heart but that was not shared with me at this time, or anytime in the future.
Another week went by and the symptoms got worse. The antibiotics had failed to work and the “bronchitis” was still there. I never felt this weak for such a prolonged period of time. I was experiencing extreme fatigue, shortness of breath, weight gain, swollen ankles, protruding abdomen and an overall difficulty in breathing. Each day it was getting worse and worse.
I returned to the same primary care doctor who initially diagnosed me with bronchitis.
He now suggested there was still an upper respiratory infection and prescribed me another regimen of the same antibiotics as well as Singular and an inhaler to use 4-6 times daily.
The next few days the symptoms grew worse so I again returned to the same doctor and was prescribed Prednisone along with another inhaler to be used in conjunction with the first one he prescribed a while back. Still no improvement. I returned shortly thereafter due to shortness of breath and fatigue and the same doctor told me I was having panic attacks. Since I do have a history of anxiety he told me to relax and double my dosages of both Zoloft to 200mg and Xanax to 6mg a day. I should relax and everything would be fine and for some crazy reason I believed him.
Despite the prescribed medications, I was feeling awful at this time. I could not walk more than a short distance without stopping for a break.
In mid May of 2006, I remember being in my office, lying down, in great distress. My assistant recommended that I go to the emergency room because of my difficulty breathing and he immediately took me there. I was admitted to Good Samaritan Hospital in West Palm Beach. The diagnosis was severe cardiomyopathy with congestive heart failure. It was a virally induced infection, possibly a strand from the bronchitis. My EF (ejection fraction) was 10- 15% and my left ventricle diastolic was extremely dilated to roughly 6.3 cm. I was put on diuretics and other medications, monitored, and within 24 hours I lost fifteen pounds of excess fluid.
I was scared and alone. My family, mostly in New York, came to Florida to be with me.
I was told that the heart cannot heal itself and once it is enlarged, it is improbable that it would ever return to its normal size. The only alternative was a heart transplant.
I was too weak, too frightened and too ill to make any decisions so I allowed my family to take over at this point. They rushed me to New York (AMA - against medical advise) to see the head of cardiology at Mt. Sinai Hospital. I don’t remember much from that time period, but I was told that the “team” ran through the halls with me in a wheelchair to the intensive care cardiac unit. I was hooked up to every conceivable machine, monitored closely surrounded by my family and friends. A catheter was inserted into my neck, a very uncomfortable procedure, to monitor my heart more closely. It was at that time I was told my only chance for survival was a heart transplant, and I was placed on the list.
For those of you unfamiliar with this coveted list, the average waiting period is about ten years. You have to go through both medical and psychological approval to be considered for a transplant and then spend the rest of your life fighting off any infections and adjusting both physically and mentally to your new heart. In addition, having the most common blood type “O” was also working to my disadvantage seeing as how thousands above me had the same blood type. My EF was functioning at 10-15%, my left ventricle along with my right and left atrium's were enlarged and there was considerable damage to my heart. I had severe tricuspid regurgitation, moderate mitral regurgitation, and biatrial enlargement.
I was there for almost a month and for anyone who has stayed in a hospital in ICU for over two weeks I am sure you can empathize.
Due to the severity of my condition it was strongly advised that a defibrillator be surgically placed in my chest which would regulate my heart and “shock” it if it stopped or performed irregularly. I had much reservation about going through the operation but I finally conceded and on June 7, 2006, a MEDTRONIX defibrillator was placed in me. In hindsight this was a huge mistake because this particular defibrillator was a defective device and was recalled a year. It was responsible for five deaths and many other complications with the lead wires.
Something inside of me kept telling me that there had to be another way. I continued my search for alternative options to a heart transplant. Just like in business I was a fighter and I was determined to find a solution to treat what was diagnosed as a non-curable disease.
When I was finally discharged from Mt Sinai, I was prescribed the following medications:
When I left Mt. Sinai in July 2006, I made it my goal to explore alternatives to a heart transplant. My cardiologist told me maybe a new drug will be invented or I could get a heart transplant. That was not encouraging! I was determined to find another way. One of my first signs of hope came from my cousin who referred me to a specialist who was involved in Stem Cell research, which at the time I knew very little about. I was excited to hear and learn of a possible alternative to a heart transplant.
Later on that month, I met with the specialist (cardiologist) in Long Island, NY, who performed another Echo cardiogram on me. My EF went to 15-20% , a slight improvement. He was very convinced that I was a great candidate for stem cell therapy and wanted me to go to Israel or Thailand for several months of treatment. I was confused and frightened and the thought of being so far away for an experimental treatment was just too much for me to consider at that time.
I was also so weak that the thought of this journey was overwhelming, even though I had my family to support me and accompany me. This doctor also wanted me to begin taking coumidin immediately, even though all of the other cardiologists were opposed to this. I did not know who to believe.
I returned to Florida in late July 2006, and met with several local cardiologists who were very highly recommended and who in the end were in agreement that my only hope was a heart transplant. This only made my fears even worse. I even asked these doctors about nutrients and vitamins and amazingly they all replied with almost the same response “there are no clinical trials that show vitamins cause any improvement and in fact can be bad for you” Another issue was they all believed that an echo cardiogram should be taken once or twice a year. This made no sense to me because if my heart was improving maybe the dosages of my meds should increase or decrease. So I went along with my own theory and had 5 or 6 done in under a year and a half In August of 2006 I was finally able to get an appointment with one of the top cardiologists in the country at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in NY. A stress test was performed and based on the results I was classified as a category one in accordance with the NY heart association. I also had another Echo which showed my EF increased to 25%! I thought all I need is another 25% and I would be back to normal.
Around this time, I was very fortunate to be referred to Dr. Kenneth Emonds. He was just returning from Israel where he was treating a former prime minister. He was referred by a wonderful and kind spirited person who I believe is responsible for saving my life. This man was also a business partner of mine and had heart problems as well.
Due to his relationship with the doctor he was able to get me an appointment. To my surprise, he was not a medical doctor. He came very highly recommended and I was extremely excited to meet with him in his office in New Hampshire. This was the man who would heal the impossible congestive heart failure that I had suffered. This experience changed my life forever.
I flew to NY and then my mother and I took the trip to New Hampshire. I did not know what to expect and was pleasantly surprised to meet a warm, gentle man who offered us herbal tea and a spacious comfortable office where we met for close to four hours. Dr. Emonds, PhD. is an orthomolecular immunologist specializing in nutritional biochemistry, electro homeopathy, and psychoneuroimmunology. The most intriguing aspect of this meeting was that he had experienced the same condition that I endured, and was able to cure himself within two years through the use of vitamins and nutrients.
Although his condition was not as severe as mine, he gave me a sense of hope and my determination was stronger than ever. It was the happiest I felt since I was hospitalized.
Dr. Emonds incorporates a 2 prong approach to healing. The first step is to test for allergic reactions in over 200 foods, spices etc... He was able to determine that specific foods were not good for me to consume at that time. He used a machine that is best described as an external acupuncture that determines the health of the various systems in the body by putting a probe on the pulse points on one’s fingers. I would be lying if I said I fully understood the workings of this devise, but I was motivated by faith and hope.
The second approach is by identifying the vitamins the body needs to heal itself but even more importantly, the exact dosages needed. Because my doctor had congestive heart failure and treated himself I was confident in him. He went through all the vitamins and explained their purposes. Since each individual is different, proper dosages will vary.
Taking the vitamins in those precise dosages allows the body to cure itself. He explained the correct dosage is so important. If you are taking too little or too much of a vitamin you are not receiving any of the benefits.
In addition to my work with Dr. Emonds, I continued to seek further medical advice from doctors in NY and Florida. The outcomes were all similar in that the doctors would state that they were “cautiously optimistic” about my prognosis.
All the doctors still believed that a heart transplant was my only real hope.
As my condition improved, I maintained regular visits with Dr Emonds, and my vitamin dosages were adjusted every few months. I was confident enough in my progress that I stopped seeing cardiologists altogether only for Echo's. Instead, I simply followed Dr Emonds vitamin regimen, along with exercise, which I got in the form of walks on the beach 3-4 times a week.
In January 2007, I returned to Columbia Presbyterian for a check up. I requested another echo cardiogram I felt better physically and my goal was to decrease the dosages of the prescribed medication. The doctor refused and said it was to soon and said my insurance would not cover it. I insisted and was able to finally convince the doctor to perform another Echo.
The echo cardiogram indicated that my EF increased from 25 to 35% and the size of my left ventricle was also decreasing in size. I was told my potassium level was low so they increased my dosage of Inspira. My initial thoughts were to consume more foods with potassium instead of relying on medication, but all of the doctors were adamant on their recommendations.
At this point, I started listening only to my nutritionist Dr. Emonds, and stopped taking all of the prescribed cardiac medications with the exception of Coreg and Enalapril. I continued to visit with Dr. Emonds in New Hampshire every 3 months, and had another echocardigram done in May 2007, and my EF was now 45 and my left ventricle was only mildly dilated.
In mid-October of 2007 there was a major announcement regarding the recall of MEDTRONIX, effecting 250,000 people around the world, 150,000 in the US. These devices were defective in that they would produce a shock when not needed. As of January 2008, there have been 5 deaths due to this device. I felt that the statistics were going to worsen because of the magnitude of this issue over a very short period of time.
I was very anxious but decided to have the device removed at Mt Sinai Hospital in late 2007 by the same doctor who put in the device. Although it was a high risk procedure, the fact that I am young and my EF was 45%, the doctor agreed to the extraction, which included removing the leads. The removal of the leads contributed to the high risk factor of causing complications. Some of the risk factors are predicated around the amount of scar tissue formed around the heart. I underwent the procedure anyway. To my surprise I was told by some of the technicians at the hospital that no one had ever had a defibrillator removed because of improvement in heart functioning.
My last visit in December 2007 showed dramatic improvements. My EF has gone from 10% up to 50-55%, and my left ventricle has shrunk to a normal size. The quality of my life has been fantastic.
In the end, I saw about 10 cardiologists, around the country, who all recommended a heart transplant. Although 1 or 2 medical doctors suggested a waiting period to see if the condition improved, the majority were confident in their recommendation of a heart transplant. When I spoke of my progress using vitamins and minerals, I was always met with the same, reluctant response. “There is no clinical evidence to support the health benefits of vitamins…” Well, I am that evidence.
My EF was 50-55% and my left ventricle is now of normal size. My heart did heal itself, contrary to what the best cardiologists in the country told me.
I am sharing this story because it is my mission and my goal to educate and teach as many people about the importance of nutrition, of the use of vitamins and supplements (in addition to medication as needed) and the importance of believing that the body can heal itself. I intend to focus the rest of my life on the contribution to technological advances that determine the roles of vitamins and minerals in the body. This regimen has changed my life, and I hope to give everybody who has been falsely handed their fate, a very real sense of hope.
Please contact me if you have shared similar experiences.