COMMENTARY

We Can Prevent and Even Reverse Coronary Artery Heart Disease

Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., MD

Disclosures

August 31, 2007

 


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Although heart disease is still the leading cause of death in the United States for men and for women, it can be prevented and even reversed. In my 21-year Cleveland Clinic nutritional study,[1] I arrested and reversed advanced coronary artery disease in patients who had already undergone bypasses and angioplasties; some had even been told by their cardiologist that they had less than a year to live.

This study builds from epidemiological evidence in plant-based cultures, such as rural China, the Papua Highlanders, central Africa, and the Tarahumara Indians, where the inhabitants are virtually free of coronary disease.

The goal was for patients to achieve and maintain a total cholesterol less than 150 mg/dL and an LDL-cholesterol less than 80 mg/dL through plant-based nutrition. At this cholesterol level, the body does not deposit fat and cholesterol into arteries.

Results were published at 5, 12, and 16 years, and updated beyond 20 years in the book.[1,2,3,4] Compliant patients' angina diminished and largely disappeared; they achieved and maintained cholesterol goals; and angiographic evidence showed their disease had selectively reversed. Most importantly, they survived.

My recent book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, updates the study beyond 21 years, making it the longest of its type. Those patients told by expert cardiologists 20 years ago that they had less than a year to live who are alive and well in 2007 are a particularly compelling story.

Patients are empowered when they know they can control their disease, rather than rely on risky expensive inconsistent drugs, stents, or bypasses. Patients can maintain profound lifestyle changes when they recognize huge benefits.

Plant-based nutrition can eliminate some diseases. This is a clear message medicine must embrace and share with the public.

That's my opinion. I'm Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., Preventive Medicine Consultant, Cleveland Clinic.

 


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