Heart disease is devastating to both our health and our economy. It is the number one cause of death in the country. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) accounted for 32.1 percent of deaths in the United States in 2013 – one out of every three deaths is due to this preventable disease.1 A significant number of research studies have documented that heart disease is easily and almost completely preventable (and reversible) through a diet rich in plant produce and lower in processed foods and animal products.6-9
As the prevalence of CVD escalates, medical costs are rising rapidly. The American Heart Association has projected that by 2030, 40.5 percent of the US population will have some form of cardiovascular disease, and the direct medical costs attributed to cardiovascular diseases will triple compared to 2010 costs.2
Risk factors for heart disease are commonplace for U.S. adults:32.6 percent have hypertension, 13.1 percent have total cholesterol above 240 mg/dl,3 9.3 percent of U.S. adults have diabetes,4 and 68.5 percent of U.S. adults are overweight or obese.5 As a result, it has become considered normal in our society to have atherosclerosis, and to die from cardiovascular disease. If you eat the standard western diet that most people eat in the modern world, you will surely develop heart disease and may die from it.
Fighting heart disease: Superior nutrition versus drugs and surgery
In 2015, I published a scientific article in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine demonstrating, with survey data and case histories, the dramatic weight loss and cardiovascular benefits possible with a Nutritarian diet. Respondents who started out obese lost an average of over 50 pounds two years after the switch to a Nutritarian diet. After one year, in those who started out with hypertension, there was a 26 mm Hg average reduction in systolic blood pressure. In respondents who were not taking cholesterol-lowering medication, there was an average 42 mg/dl decrease in LDL cholesterol, and an average decrease in triglycerides of 79.5 mg/dl.10
The surgical interventions commonly used to treat heart disease, such as angioplasty and bypass surgery are futile. The COURAGE trial and additional studies conducted since have documented that patients undergoing those invasive procedures do not live longer or have fewer heart attacks compared to those receiving medical therapy with modest lifestyle changes.11-12 Surgical interventions are not long-term solutions to heart disease; they merely treat a small portion of a blood vessel, while cardiovascular disease continues to progress throughout the vasculature.
Drugs that treat hypertension and elevated cholesterol carry serious risks and do not stop heart disease from progressing. Cholesterol-lowering statin drugs are known to increase the risk of diabetes, impaired muscle function, cataracts, liver dysfunction and kidney injury. 13 Each different class of blood pressure-lowering medications is associated with its own risks and side effects. ACE inhibitors commonly cause a persistent cough; diuretics are linked to increased risk of diabetes; beta blockers are associated with increased likelihood of stroke; calcium channel blockers may increase risk of heart attack and breast cancer; and ARBs are associated with increased risk of lung cancer.14-20
The risk associated with these treatments is unacceptable when there is a safe, effective alternative —smart nutrition and exercise – that can actually reverse heart disease and obliterate the need for risky and even futile medical care. Atherosclerotic plaque can be reversed, and cholesterol lowered without drugs or surgery.
Success stories (two of numerous)
Ronnie weighed over 300 pounds when he wound up needing emergency quadruple bypass surgery. Three years later, he was back for an angioplasty and three stents, but his chest pain returned within one month of the surgery. Working with Dr. Fuhrman in the Ask the Doctor Community, Ronnie lost 140 pounds and went off all medications. He runs and plays sports and has served as an inspiration to family members who have also lost weight and begun to live healthier lives. Read his story.
Julia had three heart attacks within three months. After her fifth angioplasty, she still had constant chest pain. She was on 10 different daily medications, suffered migraines, and, at the age of 60, could not walk even one block. Today, Julia has lost 105 pounds, and now enjoys every day pleasures like exercise, gardening, and playing with her grandchildren. She went from a “cardiac cripple” to a healthy, happy woman. Read her story.
Like Ronnie and Julia, over the last 20 years hundreds of my other patients with advanced heart disease have demonstrated that dramatic reversal of advanced disease can even occur in a relatively short time.
Following the lenient recommendations of the American Heart Association and wearing a red dress pin do not form an effective strategy for protecting you or your loved ones against heart disease. Also, drugs and surgery do not cure heart disease. A health-promoting, nutrient-dense (Nutritarian) diet, that I have designed and advanced over the years (coupled with exercise) is dramatically effective and protective for preventing and reversing high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes — as well as heart disease — because it removes the primary dietary cause of heart disease, while providing the most protective and life-span promoting diet-style. For more information, check out my book, The End of Heart Disease.
Everyone needs to know that heart disease can be avoided; and those who already have heart disease deserve to know that they can reverse their disease. Conventional medical care does NOT protect against heart disease-related death. Only a Nutritarian diet can offer dramatic lifespan-enhancing benefits against both cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Originally printed on DrFuhrman.com. Reprinted with permission.
Joel Fuhrman, M.D. is a board-certified family physician, six-time New York Times bestselling author and internationally recognized expert on nutrition and natural healing, who specializes in preventing and reversing disease through nutritional methods. Dr. Fuhrman coined the term “Nutritarian” to describe his longevity-promoting, nutrient-dense, plant-rich eating style.
- Xu J, Murphy SL, Kochanek KD, et al: Deaths: Final Data for 2013. Natl Vital Stat Rep 2016;64:1-119.
- Heidenreich PA, Trogdon JG, Khavjou OA, et al: Forecasting the Future of Cardiovascular Disease in the United States: A Policy Statement From the American Heart Association. Circulation 2011.
- Mozaffarian D, Benjamin EJ, Go AS, et al: Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics-2016 Update: A Report From the American Heart Association. Circulation 2016;133:e38-e360.
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- Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Kit BK, et al: Prevalence of childhood and adult obesity in the United States, 2011-2012. JAMA 2014;311:806-814.
- Ornish D, Brown SE, Scherwitz LW, et al: Can lifestyle changes reverse coronary heart disease? The Lifestyle Heart Trial. Lancet 1990;336:129-133.
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- Esselstyn CB, Jr., Ellis SG, Medendorp SV, et al: A strategy to arrest and reverse coronary artery disease: a 5-year longitudinal study of a single physician’s practice. J Fam Pract 1995;41:560-568.
- Fuhrman J, Singer M: Improved Cardiovascular Parameter With a Nutrient-Dense, Plant-Rich Diet-Style: A Patient Survey With Illustrative Cases. Am J Lifestyle Med 2015.
- Boden WE, O’Rourke RA, Teo KK, et al: Optimal medical therapy with or without PCI for stable coronary disease. N Engl J Med 2007;356:1503-1516.
- Trikalinos TA, Alsheikh-Ali AA, Tatsioni A, et al: Percutaneous coronary interventions for non-acute coronary artery disease: a quantitative 20-year synopsis and a network meta-analysis. Lancet 2009;373:911-918.
- Hippisley-Cox J, Coupland C: Unintended effects of statins in men and women in England and Wales: population based cohort study using the QResearch database. BMJ 2010;340:c2197.
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- Bangalore S, Messerli FH, Kostis JB, et al: Cardiovascular protection using beta-blockers: a critical review of the evidence. J Am Coll Cardiol 2007;50:563-572.
- Gupta AK, Dahlof B, Dobson J, et al: Determinants of new-onset diabetes among 19,257 hypertensive patients randomized in the Anglo-Scandinavian Cardiac Outcomes Trial–Blood Pressure Lowering Arm and the relative influence of antihypertensive medication. Diabetes Care 2008;31:982-988.
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- Group PS, Devereaux PJ, Yang H, et al: Effects of extended-release metoprolol succinate in patients undergoing non-cardiac surgery (POISE trial): a randomised controlled trial. Lancet 2008;371:1839-1847.
- Li CI, Daling JR, Tang MT, et al: Use of Antihypertensive Medications and Breast Cancer Risk Among Women Aged 55 to 74 Years. JAMA Intern Med 2013.
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