Can coronary heart disease be cured?
Coronary heart disease is a condition in which the flow of blood through the coronary arteries is disturbed and, as a result, the heart muscle is not supplied with enough blood. The condition mostly occurs in patients with coronary artery atherosclerosis (a condition in which the arteries are lined with fat, cells, connective tissue, and calcium). Although current medical and surgical treatments can treat coronary heart disease, they do not prevent or stop it. A change in diet, as these and other studies show, has halted and even reversed the course of the disease.
198 patients were advised an exclusively plant-based diet and were also monitored. Patients with cardiovascular disease were interested in switching to a plant-based diet as an adjunct to conventional medical management of the disease. Only patients who did not consume dairy products, fish, meat and added oils were considered.
The basic diet consisted of whole grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits. Patients were reassured by explaining that a balanced and varied plant-based diet would cover their amino acid needs. They were encouraged to take multivitamin and vitamin B12 supplements. They were also advised to add flax seeds to their meals, which are an additional source of omega 3 and omega 6 essential fatty acids.
Basically, the change called for avoiding all added fat and processed foods that contain fat, fish, meat, poultry, dairy, avocados, nuts and high amounts of salt. Patients also had to avoid sweetened foods (sucrose, fructose and drinks containing them, processed carbohydrates, fruit juices, syrups and molasses). Later they also excluded caffeine.
Of the 198 patients with cardiovascular disease, 177 (89%) followed the diet. The disease recurred in the form of a stroke only in 1 patient who followed the diet (that is, in 0.6% of cases).
In patients who did not follow the diet, the stroke recurred in as many as 13 out of 21 (in 62% of cases).
Despite a 40-year tradition of aggressive drug and surgical treatment, coronary artery disease remains the number one killer of men and women in Western countries (5). These approaches can save lives during the heart attack itself. But conventional treatment with coronary angioplasty does not provide real protection against subsequent heart attacks or prolong life (6), probably because it does not eliminate the main cause of the disease. Treatments that only relieve symptoms increase the chance of relapse and mortality, and are costly. The inclusion of whole plant foods as a method of treating the cause of coronary heart disease is a departure from common practice, but patients should be presented with this option.
(5) Roger VL, Go AS, Lloyd-Jones DM, et al; American Heart Association Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee. Executive summary: heart disease and stroke statistics—2012 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2012;125:188-197.
(6) Boden WE, O’Rourke RA, Teo KK, et al; COURAGE Trial Research Group. Optimal medical therapy with or without PCI for stable coronary disease. N Engl J Med. 2007;356:1503-1516.
*full list of sources in original article
Original article: A way to reverse CAD?
Authors: Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., Ph.D. med., Gina Gendy, dr. Med., M.Sc. Jonathan Doyle, Ph.D. Mladen Golubic, Ph.D. MD, Michael F. Roizen, Ph.D. honey