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    New CAD Diagnosis
    heathers82 posted:
    Someone from the general discussion board suggested I duplicate my post in this group:

    Three weeks ago my husband was diagnosed with advanced coronary artery disease just a few months shy of his 40th birthday. I, his wife, am 31. The cardiologist was hopeful that he may only need one stent as his perfusion study only showed mild abnormality at the very end of the stress portion. She also stated he was "a very healthy looking man". When she came out to speak to me after his catheterization, she was visibly upset. He has five areas of 80-90% blockage in all of the arteries stemming from the right main coronary artery. One vessel actually had formed its own collateral circulation on the posterior wall of the heart. The only thing saving him from bypass was that his left main and left anterior descending arteries are open with "negligible" amounts of plaque. She stated that his arteries were small and fragile for a man of his size (6'1" and 315lbs) and could not be safely stented at that time. He has had little to no symptoms leading up to this, only a mild nagging ache in his left chest which the cardiologist is attributing to GERD. She said he has felt none of the blood flow restriction. Now that he has been on omeprazole for almost three weeks, he doesn't have the pain. He was also started on Imdur which could be helping as well. She told us he could have a very good chance at long term survival if we gave up all animal products and oils NOW. She feels he is depositing all of the cholesterol he eats. His total cholesterol is about 187. So, for three weeks now we have been on a low sodium, little to no oil, vegan diet. He has lost over 20 pounds and I have lost 17. Our blood pressures and blood sugars are also plummeting (in a good way). I am an RN that once did cardiac nursing and am therefore TERRIFIED. I'm glad that I have stopped waking up in the middle of the night to check on him, but it has been a very emotional time. I have been more open with my emotions than he. I will do whatever I can to find this terrible disease so my husband and I can live a full life together. His daughter is 11, so we have a lot to live for. So, I suppose my question is, are there any other "young" folks out there in a similar situation or have switched to a plant based diet? Feedback would be greatly appreciated.
    jc3737 responded:
    I don't know about young but there are a number of us on a plant based diet.Low sodium and no oil is a good start.I found that GERD can be cured by eating only baked potatoes for several days....sweet potatoes and regular white has worked for everyone I know that has tried it.
    jc3737 replied to jc3737's response:
    twinb63 responded:
    I wasn't 39 like him, I was 52 when I had to have an emergent two vessel bypass. The only symptoms I had were an aching in my traps between my shoulders & head when I walked. Nothing in my chest was symptomatic. One day I started on a walk and couldn't go very far, lost all my energy and could hardly walk home, 200 yards away. A horrible experience, going under the knife, recuperation was long and miserable. I discovered Ornish at that time and began his diet, all for the better. None of the hospital staff including the docs told me anything about changing my diet. That was in 1996. Stick with clean eating and cut out ALL the oil if Esselstyn is right. Good luck to you both.
    heathers82 replied to twinb63's response:
    Perhaps I am off base, but it blew me away (in a good way) that the cardiologist sat with me while my husband recovered from the sedation and gave me some hope, not with pills or more prescriptions, but with a lifestyle change. At his follow up appointment, I want to jump up and down and ask why, if the research is as promising as it is presented, are more doctors not giving their patients this option? We want to live, and no matter how frustrated we might get, we will do this if it is what it takes to live a longer and healthier life that will allow us to have more years of marriage and watch our 11 year old grow up.
    twinb63 replied to heathers82's response:
    18 years ago my cardiologist knew the Ornish diet but was not impressed, saying only the research showed minimal changes in 'reversal' of disease. Now? I think Essy is on target when he says docs don't give patients enough credit that they'll make the necessary changes in lifestyle that are required to fight CAD. Also, in my experience, anyone stepping outside the mainstream practice protocols can be viewed as a fringe practitioner, just as in other professions and occupations. My cynicism says "huddle in with the herd, it's safer.". For example, the American Heart Assn. step 2 diet clearly increases heart disease risk, but does anyone tell patients that? We can rant forever, but it's more valuable to make the rational lifestyle changes and to let the herd go on their way. Forums like this one don't attract many followers, do they.
    heathers82 replied to twinb63's response:
    Although I am only an RN, I believe I would rather be viewed as that "fringe" practitioner rather than giving my patients a sense of false hope that this surgery or pill will fix you. My grandfather had severe heart disease and had a quadruple bypass probably somewhere around 1992. He lived to his mid 70's, but do you know what killed him? Not heart disease. Liver failure from years of hepatotoxic cholesterol medications. I feel incredibly blessed to have this cardiologist caring for my husband. We are learning, growing in knowledge, and shrinking in size . I'm not sure if the difference is that this physician came from Germany, or perhaps got the "Essy" influence from doing her fellowship in upstate New York. I would love to rant, but I have resolved to putting my nose to the grindstone with this lifestyle change and telling everyone I see that there can be ANOTHER option if you want your life bad enough. And you are correct, I'm not seeing much chatter in this forum.
    engineerguy replied to heathers82's response:
    Hi Heathers82,

    Congratulations on taking control of your and your husband's health. You are lucky to have the support of your cardiologist, recommending vegan and no oil diet. And we are all lucky to have the support of the wonderful people on this board.

    We on this board follow a movement lead by the late Nathan Pritikin, Dr. John McDougall, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Neal Baranard and Dr. Joel Fuhrman. Their recommendations are all very similar. The success of one supports the success of all.

    My message to you is that you can be energized and excited to improve your health and your husband's health. You start the diet because you are terrified of heart disease, but end up staying on the diet and even following it more diligently, because you realize that you are getting younger and more energetic, while your friends are getting older. The heart disease will melt away. I guarantee it!! We on this board know this will be, because you are already losing weight and seeing benefits.

    To see some of the successes that support all of these programs, open, click on Your Health, and click on Proven Results or Health Benefits. Many studies are quoted, which show improvement in heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and reduction in cancer risk.

    For example: "A five-year follow-up of 64 people who went to Pritikin instead of having coronary bypass surgery found that 80% had never needed the surgery. Journal of Cardiac Rehabilitation, 3: 183, 1983."

    That means, for 64 people that chose to go to the Pritikin Center for a week or two or three, instead of having bypass surgery, 80% did not need the surgery in a 5 year followup. That means 80% went back to the real world, followed the diet, and improved their health. Normally heart disease gets worse, not better, in time.

    I have attended the Pritikin Longevity Center with my wife. It is a great place, dedicated to our health. Medicare will cover part of the cost, for some heart patients.

    Open to see the most effective treatment for heart patients ever published in a medical journal (American Journal of Cardiology and others). This is Dr. Esselstyn's website. Dr. Esselstyn had 18 patients follow his program for 22 years. 5 of those patients were given only a year to live, by their cardiologists. In the 8 years prior to starting the diet, they had 48 cardiac events (heart attack, stroke, increasing medication dosage, bypass, stent, increasing symptoms, etc). In the 22 years on the diet, zero cardiac events. One person died after 8 years, of a cardiac arrhythmia, which is not due to a blocked artery. This person had extensive heart muscle damage at the start of the study, and was one of those given a year to live.

    I myself followed the Pritikin Diet for 30 years, age 30 to 60. The last 2 years I followed very strictly, following a diet identical to Dr. McDougall's Starch Solution. I found that my cholesterol was not good enough, with my heredity, and an IMT test showed me to be average for an American, which is not good. I learned of Dr. Fuhrman from a nutritionist at Pritikin. I have followed Dr. Fuhrman's Eat To Live for the last 7 years, and have excellent cholesterol and health.

    Dr. Fuhrman has more emphasis on vegetables, and achieving lean weight. In my opinion, Dr. Fuhrman has improved upon the program of the others. All are excellent.

    We on this board are thrilled to be helpful. Please stop by to tell us how things are going. Please do not hesitate to ask any question or contribute or chat. Among us, we have a lot of knowledge, actually.

    Please thank your cardiologist. Maybe your cardiologist has not heard of some of the info here.

    Oh, by the way. For many people, the need for the Prilosec just goes away, when eating this way. We are all individuals.

    Best regards, EngineerGuy(Stacy)
    heathers82 replied to engineerguy's response:
    Thank you so very much for your informative and supportive response. I have to admit, I think I cried the first 10 days just trying to figure out what to eat. Today has been one month since his cardiac catheterization and one month since we have adopted the diet. I have lost 22.5 lbs an he has lost 28 lbs (and also went from a 46 waist pant to a 40 waist pant). The part that I find most frustrating currently in this lifestyle is the complete avoidance of oils. Admittedly, we have had some oil, mostly unknowingly and after the fact (from not so great label research). I have a feeling of guilt and worry (what if that one oversight added more plaque in a vessel???) that every time we slip and have some oil or eat a product that we later realize had egg or dairy product in it. He had his cholesterol drawn a few days ago and he has his first cardiology follow up appointment on Thursday, so I'm quite anxious to see what has happened to his numbers. I would be a liar to say I wouldn't be crushed if there wasn't a measurable improvement. I will keep you updated and appreciate everyone's interest and support
    max9821 replied to heathers82's response:
    Please do keep us updated. You might also want to go on

    I am not young. I have children older than your husband. But I recovered from an MI and v fib and coding. I had a stent placed in the obtuse marginal artery. One artery was 100% blocked but had collaterals.

    From day one in the hospital I ate whole food plant based no fat. Really--zero fat. It is easier to eat this way in a restaurant than a hospital. While my roommates in intensive care and the cardiac care were ordering bacon and eggs for breakfast, I ordered plain oatmeal, no milk and a banana to mash up in it and whatever fruit I could get.

    For lunch and dinner both, the only thing I could order was plain baked potato, about a quarter cup of some boiled soggy vegetable and more fruit. For three days. At that point I wasn't even tempted by the roast beef and chocolate cake and ice cream my heart patient roommates were ordering.

    After a day in intensive care I walked through three buildings to get to the cardiac care unit. Several nurses standing around the desk stared at me wide eyed then started to laugh. One of them said I was the only patient they ever had who walked onto their unit. All the others were wheeled in.

    I exercised in the hospital and took cardiac rehab very seriously. Maybe your husband can get into such a program.

    I was 68 more than two years ago when I had my MI. Nine months later I fell in the kitchen in a freak accident and broke my hip. Spent three days in the hospital and ten in a rehab hospital. I was smart this time. My daughters cooked for me and I stored the food in the unit's refrigerator.

    Unless you read something that shows positively (not speculation) that another diet is better, I hope your husband sticks to the plant diet. No meat, fish, fowl, dairy of any kind, eggs, fats or oils. Just fruits, vegies, intact whole grains mostly (I do eat some whole wheat pasta sometimes), like oats, corn, brown rice, and starches like potatoes and sweet potatoes. Not a drop of fat or oil and only minimally processed food like canned tomatoes or beans. And of course, B12

    There are some on this group who follow a fuhrman diet with far fewer carbs and the addition of nuts. I personally follow the Esselstyn suggestion to also eliminate nuts.

    Went to the cardiologist today. Am almost down to my normal college weight, total cholesterol 118, LDL 52, trigs 116. He said my numbers were better than any he has seen on statins. To tell you the truth I am not 100% optimistic because of all that can go wrong with a stent including restenosis. But I hope.

    Best of luck to your husband. Wish my overweight son, a bit older than your husband, would give up the sad and be as smart as your husband.

    heathers82 replied to max9821's response:
    Thank you so much for your feedback. I am incredibly impressed with your lab values. I am so sorry about the hip fracture. I work in long-term care with a rehab unit and see so many folks with traumatic fracture repairs. Some do incredible and some do not. My specialty is Infection Prevention (RN, CIC).

    My husband is starting cardiac rehab next week for 35 visits. I suppose you could look at it as fortunate that we have been billed for so many health care expenses that he has met his huge maximum out of pocket amount and the rehab will be 100% covered.

    I have not found any evidence that any other diet is more beneficial than the plant-based, low sodium, no oil. We do supplement with sublingual B12. In four weeks his total cholesterol dropped from 189 to 172 and LDL from 117 to 97 without statins. The PA and I had a stand off about putting him on a statin as I have very mixed feelings about them. So he is on 10mg of atorvastatin for the next three months when they will check his cholesterol and liver function (sigh). I argued the concern of liver injury and she argued that it can stabilize his plaques. And we know that new plaques rupturing is what generally causes an acute MI in his case. So I relented, for now. His triglycerides are being a tad stubborn which I understand is common with diabetic patients even though his diabetes is well under control with diet and once daily metformin. He made it off of insulin in one year with diet.

    He can be bull headed, but has taken a bigger charge of his health than he ever has before and I am very proud of him. We are coming up on 7 weeks and I am down 27 pounds. I am going to have my cholesterol checked at a wellness clinic in a little over a week to see what is happening to my numbers. I had a physical with a cholesterol level just before all of this happened. I am obese and know that the diet is doing wonders for me even if I don't immediately see it on the scale. I feel clean on the inside. I don't know how else to explain it.

    We eat ALOT of veggies, beans, and whole grains. Some fruits. We do eat brown rice pasta, but perhaps once a week at the most. It has been a journey of never ending learning opportunities and we still have a long way to go. I was fortunate enough to meet an RN at the local health food store that received education in plant based nutrition. She has been a blessing as well. My maternal Aunt and her husband have been so inspired by our commitment and improved health that they are going to pursue a plant-based diet also.

    I want to shout it from the rooftops that there is another way. A way outside of paternalistic medicine that can get to the root of the problem instead of small fixes for symptoms with no long-term benefits. Again, thank you for your feedback and I enjoy being able to connect with folks in this way. I will be updating as new information arises.

    max9821 replied to heathers82's response:
    Heather, I was diagnosed with T2 about 23 years ago. I was taking glyburide for about three months then went off it. That is bad stuff. My blood sugars have been normal for all those years. However, I was eating fish, olive oil, nuts, yogurt and succumbed to the occasional temptation of junk food at my daughter's house. After eating easter ham, I began having chest pains.

    I think I was lulled into complacency about artery problems by the normal blood sugars. I know now that diabetics have special problems regardless of their sugar numbers with increased artery permeability, lower endothelial progenitor cell production and who knows what else. So as far as I am concerned one has to be vigilant even with normal blood sugars. I do not agree with anyone, including fuhrman or mcdougall who says diabetes can be cured. I do not think, from my own experience that this is true. I do think it can be very well controlled, even often without the use of meds.

    So now, I am 100% compliant. No more speculation for me about whether or not my diet should be completely wfpb no fat. My morning sugars are usually 85 or below but only rarely can I get into the 70's but I am working on it.

    I would be surprised if your husband didn't achieve similar blood sugar results eventually, without meds.

    My doctor and I were discussing the fact that I also stopped aspirin after taking it for more than a year after the MI. not all at once, but gradually. Did experience some pounding heart episodes for a bit. I might start it up again because he thinks I really should. However, I asked about his other patients (and believe me, this practice has lots--there are 30 doctors in the group) and no one else that he knows of eats the way I do. So I said that he really does not know what will happen if someone who eats as I do and faithfully exercises stops aspirin. And neither do I.

    I do not think there has been one study on post stent patients who complied with a wfpb no fat diet and stopped or continued aspirin. Except for a handful of people on the mcdougall group or maybe some other groups I do not know of any, including those who took the rehab classes with me, who complied with anything other than the wishy washy AHA diet. People bragged that they take the skin off the chicken, and use skim milk. Some of them are in rehab after a second by pass and multiple stents.


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