Is the heart a pump or a vortex?

A certain Dr. Thomas Cowan recently asserted (with a new book) that the heart is not a pump but a vortex.

He goes on to assert that arterial plaque is not the cause of heart problems… Instead it’s:

  1. Negative Ions from the earth
  2. The field effect from being touched by others
  3. Sunlight (while being grounded)

Normally I would blow this type of pseudoscience off but I have intelligent, curious friends who actually buy into this type of ‘bleeding edge medical science.’

Cowan, Mercola, Berger, and all the rest tend to cross-promote each others posts and when one article is released it is picked up (or pushed out) across dozens of distributors the same day… Why are there no rules in place to stop these guys?

So - is this guy a quack? Is the heart a pump? Or is it a ‘sacred vortex’ as his many followers claim?

What is a Vortex?

Define it, and then we’ll talk.

ETA: Just to cut to the chase. Since you can replace the heart with a mechanical pump and have the patient survive for years, I don’t think there’s much a of a question.

I didn’t read the article. The three “causes” of heart problems are all I needed to see. The guy is an idiot and apparently a complete quack. Coronary artery disease is one of the most common heart problems leading to heart attacks (not “negative ions from the earth” or “being touched” :rolleyes:) and it’s caused by various forms of stenosis in coronary arteries that are treated by angioplasty or coronary bypass surgery. The kind of quackery this lunatic is promoting sounds dangerous.

When I saw the thread title, I assumed someone was calling the heart a “vortex” or “vacuum” because when it expands it might be “sucking” blood into itself, in addition to the obvious and incredibly well-documented pumping action.

But that’s pseudoscience. Intelligent people can fall for pseudoscience, conspiracy theories, illogical way of seeing the world, etc.

Trust nothing you read on a Mercola website. He’s a quack.

Sure, but how do I prove he’s a quack when debating. There are so many internet quacks around now and no-one seems to be watching them.

If you have friends who believe that “negative ions from the earth” and “being touched” are the major causes of heart problems, then you need new friends, not new debating techniques. This is such utter crap that anyone who believes it is likely beyond the reach of reason.

Seriously. I’m not going to give clicks to Mercola.

If your friends want to belief that heart disease is caused by being touched by others and sunlight instead of rupturing unstable plaques … there is not going to be much you can do. You can link to Quackwatch (site not working this second though) but these are in general the hard-core pseudoscience tin foil hatters who also believe that immunizations are a conspiracy with international governmental cabal cover-ups.

Engaging over it is sometimes more akin to feeding trolls than anything else.

A vortex is a passive motion of a fluid in response to conservation of angular momentum. What’s the active driver of his vortex heart?

There may well be elements of vortical flow within the blood moving in / through a heart. But again that’s a passive process in response to something else pushing on the fluid. What does he propose is doing the pushing?

Quackwatch link on Mercola working now.

A bit ballsy to be promoting the evils of sunlight after he had to settle with the FTC for “falsely claiming that [his] indoor tanning devices would enable consumers to slash their risk of cancer and improve the clarity, tone and texture of their skin, giving them a more youthful appearance” but hey.

Seriously, you can directly physically feel your heart pumping. That’s like, the first thing that anyone knows about internal anatomy. How do you even get to a point where that’s in question?

You can refer people here to the Dope where we’ve been calling Mercola a quack for many years, and debunking negative ions for about as long.

Seriously, that’s your best move. You can’t prove Mercola’s a quack unless you teach people a full college curriculum of biology, chemistry, physiology, and anatomy. He’s spinning a complete mythology of wrongness. Could you prove that Christianity is wrong with a one-line explanation? Obviously not. Your so-called “friends” who are “intelligent” have bought into a quack religion because they aren’t “curious.” They are, in fact, lazy. Understanding the body takes a huge amount of work they have no interest in. They’d rather fall down a hole of idiocy because it’s the fast path.

The only bright side is that people like them are distracted by shiny objects. They’ll find a new type of quackery in a year or two. People who will believe in one form of quackery will believe in any of them. I call it the single quack hypothesis.

You were asked alread, but I’ll ask again:

The heart is not a pump, but a ‘vortex’?

The definitions aren’t even close, and ‘vortex’ doesn’t describe observable phenomena.

The source of this dilemma, for this forum, is you. You must reconcile it for this to be a useful thread.

If you’re debating with someone, you can ask them to reconcile the differences. Here on the SDMB, we never accept, “just browse the website” as an answer. Because that’s not how you have a productive discussion.

No-one seems to be clicking the link to read Cowans proposition. So here’s the basics (from the link)
The Problem With Viewing the Heart as a Pump

Cardiologists and doctors in general are taught that the walls of the heart create pressure, which causes propulsion of the blood through the body. In essence, the heart is viewed as a pump — a pressure propulsion system caused by the muscular contraction of the ventricles.

However, your body actually contains an enormous amount of blood vessels. Most of the blood vessels in your heart and body are capillaries, which are very thin-walled, very narrow tubes.

If you were to spread these blood vessels out, they would cover three football fields. If you were to place the blood vessels end to end, in a series, they would encircle the Earth between one and three times.
"The pump theory is you have a 1-pound, somewhat thin-walled organ, and it’s going to pump [blood] around the Earth every single day for 70 years; 60 to 70 times a minute. That 1-pound, thin-walled organ can [supposedly] generate enough pressure [to do that] by squeezing …

Frankly, that's ridiculous. But it actually gets worse than that. If you do a flow velocity diagram, it turns out that the blood is moving the fastest at the heart, both before and after the heart. 

As it goes into the arterioles and then the smaller arteries, it gets to the capillaries … [where] it actually stops and does a little shimmy, or it goes very slow, depending on who you believe … The analogy is, a narrow river goes fast and when it goes out into a wetland, it goes very slow. 

It has to go slow — it has to stop almost — to exchange the gasses and the food. So not only are we pushing all the way around the Earth, but halfway around our travel, we stop and then we get going again. You're expecting that to be all from the push from behind … 

It even gets worse than that because we have an outflow tube of the left ventricle called the aortic arch … which is shaped like McDonald's arch. The blood goes from the left ventricle, out the aortic valve, through the arch, then down to the body. 

The analogy here is if you stick a similarly shaped arched garden hose off your spigot outside your house, and then turn it on really hard, which recreates the pumping … you would expect the garden hose to straighten out because if you put pressure, the arch would straighten. 

In fact, you can look on any angiogram and catheterization and you can see that arch actually bends in a little bit during systole, which from a pressure propulsion model makes absolutely no sense at all."

The Hydraulic Ram Model of the Heart

Clearly, if your heart stops beating, you won’t live very long, but if the heart isn’t actually pumping the blood, how does it work? In his book, Cowan describes the heart as a hydraulic ram, which he explains thus:

"What does the heart do? The blood is moving fast. It comes into the heart. The heart stops the blood, and like a hydraulic ram, it holds it back. The walls expand. The pressure differential happens, and then it opens the gate and comes out.

More so when the blood is in the heart, because of the unique shape of the heart … The heart is a vortex-creating machine … *t has these trabeculae (fibers) inside the heart. Each area of the trabeculae is connected with a certain part of the body. 

[One] area of the heart is connected with the spleen, another area of the inner part of the heart is connected with the foot, and so on.

The blood comes in and these areas of the heart create their individual spirals, and package up certain parts of the blood, like the old red blood cells, into a vortex and send it to the spleen, whereas another part sends the fresh new red blood cells up to the brain.

If there's a cut on your leg, it dissolves some of the inner fibers, puts that in a vortex and sends that to the cut on your leg. It's so wild. Again, there's an article about this on my website, as hard as it is to believe, that actually documents that in very clear terminology how this happens."

That’s because Cowan is an [your choice of insultingly descriptive word].

I COMPLETELY agree. The issue I have is my friend has 4 stents and a terribly unhealthy lifestyle. He watches these youtube doctors (like Bergman who is a podiatrist or something) and believes it.

For instance his Blood Pressure was spiking to 207 and daily flux is from 165, 135, 180, 150 etc… Very concerning - instead of going to the hospital to get help he watches these vids and they teach him to do ‘deep breathing’, juicing, etc. Yes his BP has come down a bit - but he’s only testing the BP after 10min of deep breathing… Yes beetroot juice has been shown to lower BP, but what about the underlying causes?

For years I’ve dealt with links being sent to me about Mercola’s belief that AIDS is caused from mental illness, or Bergman saying stents do nothing to help the heart etc.

He is coming at all of this from an anti-establishment POV, medical doctors are all in on it and just want to push pills on you… vs placebo effect and holistic medicine. Normally I would let this go - but if you’ve ever had a close friend that has been there for you - and had your back, you might want to do the same for him.

I’m not a physician so it’s difficult for me to logically spell out why Cowan or Mercola or Bergman are quacks… But I know they are - just like if someone said the moon was made of cheese…


So your friend has high blood pressure and an unhealthy lifestyle but is suspicious of “pill-pushing doctors” so instead he’s listening to these other doctors who are pushing their own agenda? (And yet, he’s OK with having the four stents implanted?) Has he ever considered that with exercise and a better diet, his blood pressure might improve to the point that pills aren’t necessary?

He had the stents several years ago. Since then he started looking at holistic health and Mercola - they’re saying stents are a waste of time - which has made him further distrust mainstream medicine.

Yes he know lifestyle / diet changes can lower BP - but when he discovered he had super high BP he looked around at the same online purveyors to see what their opinion was and has since gotten sucked into this.

When you click on the link and start reading you can hear the loud quacking of a duck almost instantly. You don’t have to listen to the duck for an hour to know that it’s a duck.

Even if this was legit hydraulic engineering (which it is not), it wouldn’t alter anything about what we know of CVD and its treatment. Pump or ram still has issues when the plumbing is semi-clogged with breakaway-prone gunk. It’s cartoonish grade school physics, but not evidence-free batshit insanity.

OTOH, this is weapons-grade gibberish. Which ought to be obvious to anyone who can even understand the words it’s made of.
This seems to be a pretty common pattern in BS artists. They start with uncontroversial and obvious facts. Then slowly become more and more outrageous and crazy. The reader will have switched off their BS detector (to the degree they even have one) after the first sentence or so. So the whole rest of the page is simply taken at face value.

I think it has a lot to do with short attention spans. By the time the reader is 3 sentences in they’re just absorbing without thinking. Because thinking is hard work.

You’ll see this sales technique a LOT once you start looking for it. Doesn’t matter whether they’re selling cars, politicians, junk science, or true blue woo. It’s used because it works *scary *well on a big fraction of the populace.