Confronting Life-Threatening Illness

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Courageous Confrontations, by cardiologist Richard Helfant, MD—acclaimed by former American Heart Association president Robert Bonow—responds to the disconcerting rise of life-threatening illness across this country. Dr. Helfant tells the fascinating stories of critically ill patients discovering the opportunity to heal their bodies and finding a passionate human spirit in the process.

Throughout history, physicians have understood that the mind has the power to harm or to heal. Recent research has now provided data on this phenomenon. Despondency and despair were proven to increase blood pressure, constrict blood vessels, increase the tendency to form clots, and depress the immune system.

Dr. Richard Helfant’s critically ill patients concluded that the outcome of their diseases was not inevitable. They did not accept their illness to be their fate and decided to fight the odds. “When disease strikes, many are all too ready to have their lives end,” Helfant says. “But passivity and resignation are not immutable reactions to a life-threatening illness. My patients have taught me that the will to live can be awakened at any moment.”

Dr. Helfant was one of the first in the United States to use balloon angioplasty and calcium channel-blocking drugs. He was the founder and medical director of the Philadelphia Heart Institute, former Chair of the Department of Cardiology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Professor of Medicine at the UCLA School of Medicine, and Vice-Chair and Professor of Clinical Medicine at the UC Irvine School of Medicine.

The majority of Americans will experience critical illness in their lifetime—either personally or through family members. The more than 50 million people in the United States who have cardiovascular disease—more than 5 million of whom have had a heart attack—need the information Dr. Helfant has acquired in his 35 years as a cardiologist. He saw patients faced with catastrophic illness react either with paralyzing fear or, alternatively, with great courage.

Jane Brody of the New York Times recommended Richard Helfant’s first book to her national audience. Courageous Confrontations, his second book—acclaimed by former American Heart Association president Robert Bonow—responds to the disconcerting rise of life-threatening illness across this country. He tells the fascinating stories of critically ill patients discovering the opportunity to heal their bodies and finding a passionate human spirit in the process.

COURAGEOUS CONFRONTATIONS: Sentient Publications; November, 2005; hardcover, 210 pages, $24.95, ISBN 1-59181-035-3.

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Rick Archer
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