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heart disease reversal
Old 08-05-2009, 05:31 PM   #1
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heart disease reversal

Some of you may remember my posting earlier this summer re my "event" and the miraculous circumstance of having a cardiologist and a pediatric intensivist nearby in a tennis facility to perform world class cpr until a rescue squad arrived to apply the defibrillator. I am happy to report that I am back to lifting weights, doing yoga, and riding my bike in addition to prepping for a law professorship this fall after obtaining a 3 year MFA degree in creative writing while "retired" from my career as a medical defense attorney. What I am wondering is if anyone has been a serious practioner of the diets prescribed by Ornish, Esselstyn and or Fuhrman which are study-proven to arrest and reverse atherosclerosis? These diets are plant-based, whole food prescriptions and not for the jaded palate. However, there is nothing like "lights out" and then a surgeon sawing (literally) through your sternum to motivate a serious approach to treating the body the way nature intended. I need all the encouragement I can get.
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Old 08-05-2009, 08:37 PM   #2
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I have known one man who did / is doing the Ornish diet. ( He was a neighbor of one of my brothers, and moved to Arizona. I haven't recently run into him, but I hear he is doing fine.)

The diet was not easy until he built new food habits. There are a lot of good recipes if you 'go ethnic'. If you are going to sit and morn the missing mayo, weeeel now, that will be tough

ta,
mew
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Old 08-05-2009, 10:24 PM   #3
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...but Windsurf, I thought you had already lived a pretty healthy lifestyle...maybe I'm not remembering correctly, but I thought your "event" was in spite of healthy eating/lots of exercise etc

R
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Old 08-05-2009, 10:56 PM   #4
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I had some heart issues (not as serious as yours) completely clear up just by changing my diet to get more magnesium. Interestingly, an Ivy league doctor told me one of my heart conditions was hereditary and incurable and a local cardiologist told me there was nothing to be done, but for me diet changes in middle age cleared up some heart issues I had for decades.

This is a good, short link on some of the benefits of magnesium -
Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center : Migraines, Sleeplessness, Heart Attacks - Magnesium?
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Old 08-06-2009, 06:15 AM   #5
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...but Windsurf, I thought you had already lived a pretty healthy lifestyle...maybe I'm not remembering correctly, but I thought your "event" was in spite of healthy eating/lots of exercise etc

R
I thought so. I've done a ton of reading in the past few weeks and have concerns. A large proportion of the vein grafts (versus grafts using the internal mammary arteries-I have 1 of those and 5 vein grafts) close within ten years. Research holds hope that statins and anti-platelet therapy are very helpful in preserving graft patency. I did eat what I thought was a very healthy diet. I thought I was free from heart disease because of cholesterol and triglyceride measures within conventional guidelines and heavy exercise capacity for my age. I was wrong. So now all bets are off. The Ornish/Esselstyn/Fuhrman approach is backed by study results (there are amazing images of blocked ateries showing much improved flow). So now that I am a member of the "zipper club," have heart disease, and don't want to lose my "new plumbing," all bets are off. I am going to follow the approach that gives me the best chance.
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Old 08-06-2009, 03:11 PM   #6
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Prior to any meds, are you a high bad cholesterol guy or a low good cholesterol guy?
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Old 08-06-2009, 03:54 PM   #7
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Prior to any meds, are you a high bad cholesterol guy or a low good cholesterol guy?
Trick question? Typical for me was 120 ldl, 70 hdl and between 54 and 85 triglycerides. The ratios put me at half the average risk. Now, I'm in a different ballgame and the goal is minimal ldl. hdl will invariably drop, too, but since it's a transporter, there will be less small particle ldl to transport.
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Old 08-06-2009, 04:13 PM   #8
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The ratios put me at half the average risk.
Holy crap! The numbers said you were darn near bulletproof, right? One of the latest things is C-Reactive Protein. Did you ever have a reading for that?

Does anyone have an idea what happened? You are the kind of patient they need to study very closely.
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Old 08-06-2009, 04:18 PM   #9
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I think that a fair number of people have cardiac events even with good numbers. Rich as posted on that before.
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Old 08-06-2009, 05:13 PM   #10
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I think that a fair number of people have cardiac events even with good numbers....
That's the impression I get. I think it is very helpful to discuss this on this forum where so many people are young and apparently fit.

I lasted about 4 months on the Ornish plan which I've heard is typical as it is so strict. At the moment I'm renewing my resolve to pay attention to small bad habits, trying to eat less butter, ice cream & substituting skim milk for 1/2 & 1/2 in coffee; hoping small changes will add up.

Windsurf, thanks for keeping this topic going.
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Old 08-06-2009, 06:05 PM   #11
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I think that a fair number of people have cardiac events even with good numbers. Rich as posted on that before.
His numbers weren't just good, they were outstanding! His doctor had to be surprised by what happened.
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Old 08-06-2009, 06:48 PM   #12
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I've been eating a mostly low-fat, near-vegan diet (no meat, but occasional dairy or eggs) for about 5 years now and have been mostly happy with it. I'm only 35 but started because it seemed healthier. I like how I feel eating this way, so I've stuck with it. It is a big change but once you've got some recipes it's not that hard.

That said, I don't know about the specifics of the diets you mention, so I can't speak to those in particular.

Edit: The part that wasn't hard was adjusting my taste in food. The part that is harder is having to cook most or all of your own food (which I was already doing), going out to restaurants and only being able to order the salad, going to a party and only eating the chopped veggies, etc. In other words, it's not at all hard to make good tasting plant-based food, but since that's not what most people eat it can be frustrating when you're out. I've gotten better at restaurants, they're usually happy to modify or make substitutions.
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Old 08-06-2009, 06:58 PM   #13
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You should also look at the information at Dr. John McDougall's website:
drmcdougall.com.

Our family switched to 100% low fat vegetarian 14 years ago because our son was having lots of intestinal pain and the doctors at the Children's Hospital in Houston didn't know what to do. His pain went away. His and my migraines went away. My highish blood pressure (just over 140/90 which kept me out of the military which I badly wanted to join when I was between 18 and 21) is now about 110/65. And my triglycerides dropped from the 400's to about 30 or 40. I don't know if the change reversed any heart disease but I wouldn't be surprised. I used to eat loads of fatty food and little fruits and vegetables.

I have learned since then that fruits and vegetables (especially green ones like spinach, brocoli, and kale) are the most important foods that we can eat. Then add in some whole grain carbohydrates - we eat brown rice - and some beans and other legumes - and you have a perfect diet (and no added fat or salt).
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Old 08-06-2009, 07:58 PM   #14
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So if the numbers don't tell it all, how do we judge our risk? Heart disease runs in the family. Dad had high cholesterol, mom low. Genetics, I think. Dad was skinny, mom overweight.
I'm at 74 triglycerides, 145 total, 48 HDL and 82 LDL.
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Old 08-06-2009, 07:59 PM   #15
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Some think the bottom line to a healthy diet (aside from diversification, so to speak) is the sheer amount of carbs, especially highly refined carbs.

Here is a decent, if not entirely unbiased, review about this. I found it intriguing.
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Old 08-06-2009, 08:44 PM   #16
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Some think the bottom line to a healthy diet (aside from diversification, so to speak) is the sheer amount of carbs, especially highly refined carbs.

Here is a decent, if not entirely unbiased, review about this. I found it intriguing.
Interesting. I don't have a cholesterol problem but my triglyceride level is in the high range (275). Since I don't smoke, average less than one drink a week and am not overweight, I suspect my main culprit may be my love of carbs: rice, pasta and bread are some of my favorite foods. (And yes, I need to get more exercise...)
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Old 08-06-2009, 08:58 PM   #17
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Edit: The part that wasn't hard was adjusting my taste in food. The part that is harder is having to cook most or all of your own food (which I was already doing), going out to restaurants and only being able to order the salad, going to a party and only eating the chopped veggies, etc. In other words, it's not at all hard to make good tasting plant-based food, but since that's not what most people eat it can be frustrating when you're out. I've gotten better at restaurants, they're usually happy to modify or make substitutions.
I appreciate that part but, again, going "lights out" and having 7 wires holding the healing sternum together is more than enough motivation to deal with the frustrating adjustments you specify.
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Old 08-06-2009, 09:06 PM   #18
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Interesting. I don't have a cholesterol problem but my triglyceride level is in the high range (275). Since I don't smoke, average less than one drink a week and am not overweight, I suspect my main culprit may be my love of carbs: rice, pasta and bread are some of my favorite foods. (And yes, I need to get more exercise...)
The quote by Rich that you included had a link to the Gary Taubes book which I read as soon as it came out. I think Taubes has a very large point as to refined carbs being part of the problem (particularly the inflammation part). Even though I am going plant-based, I will largely avoid refined carbs and go for whole foods. An occasional treat will be Dreamfields pasta which is formulated to "lock up" a large portion of the carbs making them indigestible. Bread (and bagels), pasta, cereal, white rice, soda, and energy drinks are the bane of many folk who think they are doing themselves a favor by going meatless but then load up on the refined products. With my genetics, that would be a fast road to type 2 diabetes.
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Old 08-06-2009, 09:22 PM   #19
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Interesting. I don't have a cholesterol problem but my triglyceride level is in the high range (275). Since I don't smoke, average less than one drink a week and am not overweight, I suspect my main culprit may be my love of carbs: rice, pasta and bread are some of my favorite foods. (And yes, I need to get more exercise...)
That would likely improve with lower carbs. Also, a "normal BMI" of 24 or so is probably a bit too high for some people, depending on your genes. The culprit may be higher carbs leading to excess insulin production; insulin in turn, rams carbs and some fats into cells even when there is not shortage of food or fat around, and triglycerides are essentially fats on the go. Reduce intake of refined sugar and starch and half the battle is won.

The problem with reducing carbs is that you need to replace a chunk of the carb calories with protein or fat intake. Initially felt to be dangerous, no studies so far show either to be harmful, assuming you don't have kidney problems, etc. Concerns have also been raised about coronary risk if you increase your fat intake, but so far that doesn't seem to be so. I still have concerns about increasing unsaturated fats in excess, trans fats, and maybe red meat fat but these are more theoretical than proven.
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Old 08-06-2009, 09:29 PM   #20
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The problem with reducing carbs is that you need to replace a chunk of the carb calories with protein or fat intake. Initially felt to be dangerous, no studies so far show either to be harmful, assuming you don't have kidney problems, etc. Concerns have also been raised about coronary risk if you increase your fat intake, but so far that doesn't seem to be so. I still have concerns about increasing unsaturated fats in excess, trans fats, and maybe red meat fat but these are more theoretical than proven.
Does that translate as "eat more bacon"?
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