Dietary interventions with heart disease patients
BACKGROUND: Animal experiments and epidemiological studies have suggested that coronary disease could be prevented, arrested, or even reversed by maintaining total serum cholesterol levels below 150 mg/dL (3.88 mmol/L). In 1985, we began to study how effective one physician could be in helping patients achieve this cholesterol level and what the associated effect of achieving and maintaining this cholesterol level has on coronary disease. METHODS: The study included 22 patients with angiographically documented, severe coronary artery disease that was not immediately life threatening.
This supplement to The American Journal of Cardiology presents the proceedings of the Summit on Cholesterol and Coronary Disease: Second National Conference on Lipids in the Elimination and Preven tion of Coronary Artery Disease presented by the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in cooperation with the Walt Disney Company in Lake Buena Vista, florida, September 4--5, 1997.
[There is] an unreasonable gap between the medical enthusiasm devoted to acute interventions and the meager efforts currently devoted to secondary prevention. -- Rene C. Favaloro, MD Pioneer of Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting Interventional cardiology is symptomatic treatment. The late Dr. Lewis Thomas referred to this ap proach as "half-way technology," meaning that basic mechanisms of disease were not identified or treated. The bypass operation has significant mortality and morbidity, including further heart damage, stroke, and brain dysfunction.
Coronary artery disease is essentially nonexistent in cultures whose nutrition assures cholesterol levels <150 mg/dl. Patients with advanced coronary artery disease may abolish disease progression through a plant-based diet and cholesterol-lowering medication to achieve and maintain a total cholesterol <150 mg/dl.
The high-fat American diet is responsible for an epidemic of coronary artery disease. A plant-based diet with less than 10% fat will prevent coronary disease from developing, halt the progress of existing disease, and even reverse the disease in many patients. Given proper support and education, motivated patients with a history of coronary disease can follow this diet and prevent future cardiac events.
The world's advanced countries have easy access to plentiful high-fat food; ironically, it is this rich diet that produces atherosclerosis. In the world's poorer nations, many people subsist on a primarily plant-based diet, which is far healthier, especially in terms of heart disease. To treat coronary heart disease, a century of scientific investigation has produced a device-driven, risk factor-oriented strategy. Nevertheless, many patients treated with this approach experience progressive disability and death. This strategy is a rear-guard defensive one.
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