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Heart Health: Knowledge is Power

Last week another local Facebook friend underwent heart bypass surgery and once again I witnessed the common social media reaction: prayers for his safety and quick recovery, shock that this was happening to another seemingly healthy person, tons of well-wishes and genuine concern. All of which I share. Still, for me, once again there is disappointment and even anger. Anger at the Medical Industrial Complex that feeds itself and makes trillions yearly at the expense of individuals who don’t know and are not informed of the facts and the real science before they are forced to make a decision about surgery, procedures and/or medication. With one artery 99% occluded, it’s highly likely that this gentleman was beyond the point where he had much choice. Still, I maintain that people have a right to full informed consent, which SHOULD include other options and truthful associated statistics as well as full disclosure regarding their future. Unfortunately, as anyone who has had a medical procedure can attest, you are only told about that procedure vs. doing nothing.

A look at journal articles on bypass surgery indicates a 5-year mortality rate of 7%-16% depending on the study design and 16% – up to 30% with other (drug) interventions. But what if you could do something that had a 99% survival rate? And further; a less than1% re-occurrence rate of ANY cardiovascular symptoms and THEY DIDN’T EVEN TELL YOU ABOUT IT!? This is where my anger comes from!

Caldwell Esselstyn MD, Dean Ornish MD and others have shown separately through numerous studies that about 99% of people can, not only survive without surgery, but drastically improve their lives as well through diet. Dr. Esselstyn’s most recent study followed 198 consecutive cardiovascular patients for an average of 3.7 years. In those who adhered to the diet, there were a total of 3 adverse (cardiovascular) events. In the 21 controls (those who didn’t follow the diet) the adverse event rate was 62% including strokes, stint placements, bypass surgeries; even 2 sudden cardiovascular deaths and a heart transplant surgery! (It’s useful to note his protocol kept people ON their medication unless their physician decided otherwise.) Further supporting these findings; in a brief literature search of traditional medical care I found an adverse event rate of 21 per person-years in one study and a 94% need for additional procedures in another!

So what IS this diet? It is a whole food plant-based diet without the addition of added oils. It is a version of the diet eaten by healthiest people all over the world. People in regions referred to as Blue Zones; Okinawa, parts of Japan, Sardinia (Italy), the Nicoya Peninsula (Costa Rica) and other regions world-wide where they eat a diet comprised 90% of plants. These regions have more Centenarians (people who live to 100 healthfully) than anywhere else globally. They have an extremely low rates of heart disease and far less cancer, diabetes and  other chronic diseases than Western cultures.

So, as I write this, now that he has had the surgery  and now that another business associate is recovering from an emergency stint implant brought about by a massive heart attack, it is my best hope that both (and others) will adopt those measures commensurate with the 99% success rate and experience ‘the best of both worlds.’

Continue to learn more about this diet and the power of food reverse nearly all disease by reading my blog, watching my posts on Facebook/drlesliek and registering for my upcoming Food Over Medicine Program; a 5 part series running April 2-16 .

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