Thoughts on CVD and cardiologists

Published 3.28.2016, updated 3.29.2016 to add a link to Ornish's research to reverse CVD
I've written before that my over-riding attitude towards doctors and the medical system is, "Stay out of the belly of the beast." That goal is part of why I read so much about nutrition and health issues. This is the first of what will be a series of writings about cardio vascular disease (CVD). Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional of any sort, these writings are the result of my reading and viewing about the subject.

I recognize that cardiologists try the best that they can to help sick people in need, my point isn't to besmirch the profession or the people dedicated to it. However, cardiologists scare the snot out of me. It's my observation (having, most fortunately, never darkened the door of a cardiologist's office as a patient myself) that once you're on that treadmill (and you will be, literally, on a treadmill at least once on your cardiologist's orders) there is no way off. Once you start drug treatment for heart disease, the best outcome you can hope for is stasis— you will still have to see the cardiologist regularly, but hopefully a script pad is the worst he (or she) will wield towards you.

Trends in CVD

Heart disease and CVD trends are not positive. Patients are getting younger and fatter. Heart disease is multifactorial, and that there is unlikely to be one cause or one thing humanity needs to stop doing to avoid it.

Diets that reverse CVD

Having stated that cardiologists scare me, staying away from them is definite goal of mine. to be listed as reversing CVD, the diet must have been studied and artery imaging used to document the reversal of the disease. To date, all of those diets are low fat.

Low carb high fat (LCHF) proponents and docs will blather on about marker improvement (and which markers to even pay attention to) but the bottom line with CVD remains: are the arteries still blocked or not after you adopt the diet? Nowhere, at any time, as any LCHF promoting physician dared to make that comparison.

In his
Fat summit presentation, Dean Ornish said Gary Taubes and his Nutritional Science Initiative (NuSi)i declined the opportunity to fund a study to do exactly that. Take people with established CVD (they're not hard to come by) image the blockage, put them on a LCHF diet, and measure how the blockage changes. Ornish was offering to do a straight up comparison of his HCLF diet vs LCHF as a
I've made this point before, and I'll make it again. If LCHF doctors are so convinced that theirs is the way to health nirvana then they should
prove it. Until they do so, they can fume all they want at low fat proponents, but the evidence as it stands is on the low fat proponents' side-- at least in terms of CVD.


Dean Ornish's plan is based on diet, exercise and stress reduction. Ornish's plan has reversed CVD, and can be summarized as 30 minutes walking a day, do yoga (for stress relief), have more love in your life, and eat more fruits and vegetables and whole grains with little to no animal products.


In this video, Caldwell Esselstyn outlines his program to reverse CVD. His plan is vegan, and rigorously low fat. Esselstyn is adamant (and I do mean adamant) that his patients avoid oil of all kinds. He doesn't care if its extra virgin, cold pressed oil, his plan forbids it. Esselstyn's plan is vegan, he doesn't want CVD patients to eat anything with a face, so no fish, fowl or meat of any kinds. Dairy is obviously out too. He's not a fan of fructose, so sugars and juices are out too. Nuts and avocados are out too.

So what do you eat on Esselstyn's plan? Grains, legumes, fruits and vegetable, especially green leafy vegetables. In the video, Esselstyn shows the angiogram images that demonstrate the reversal of CVD— including the patient who reversed the disease WITHOUT the use of statins. Some people discount Esselstyn's results because most patients continue taking their prescribed statins while adopting the diet. So then it could be the drugs not the diet. But in at least one case, no drugs were involved in the reversal.


Nathan Pritikin designed his diet to reverse his own heart disease. The ability to image arteries didn't exist when Pritkin did his research and proposed his diet— but he did successfully clear his arteries, though the proof was only seen in his autopsy results. Most people lose weight following a Pritikin diet, and that's how most people seem to think of it, for weight loss. But the original goal was reversal of CVD. And it works. The Pritikin diet is neither vegan nor vegetarian. It is however, rigorously low fat.

Subsequent entries in this series will discuss different aspects of CVD, but this first piece is basically just a backgrounder.


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Thoughts on CVD and cardiologists

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