Plant-Based Treatment for Angina

Plant-Based Treatment for Angina

October 6, 2019 46 By Ewald Bahringer


“Plant-Based Treatment for Angina” The Dean Ornish program that led
to the improvement in arterial function and dramatic drop in angina attacks
is not just about putting people on a plant-based diet. It also
involves recommendations for moderate exercise,
stress management, and we know exercise alone
can improve endothelial function. So how do we know diet had
anything to do with it? If you go back to Ornish’s
first publication, he put cardiac patients on a quasi-vegan
diet, with no added exercise — just diet and stress management — and got the same 91% reduction in
angina attacks within just 24 days. And Dr. Esselstyn was able to improve
angina using a plant-based diet as the only lifestyle intervention. We have published case series going
back to 1970’s documenting this. Angina and Vegan Diet, like Mr. F.W. here.
Chest pain so severe he had to stop every nine or ten steps. Couldn’t
even make it to the mail box. He started on a vegan diet and a few months
later he climbed mountains with no pain. We know plant-based diets can reverse
heart disease, dissolving plaque away, opening up arteries in some cases
without drugs, without surgery, but that doesn’t happen in 24 days. The improvements in anginal symptoms
are too rapid and too great to be explained by the gradual regression
of the atherosclerotic plaque. So maybe it’s that improvement in
endothelial function that’s doing it. What is it about plant-based diets that
improves our arteries ability to dilate? Is it macronutrient differences, simply the lack of the
deleterious effect of meat? Maybe it’s the drop in cholesterol. Endothelial function improves if we
lower our cholesterol low enough, by any means necessary. This study took PET scans measuring
blood flow to the heart before and after three radically different
ways to lower cholesterol. The first method used drugs, the second a low-fat diet
– a really low fat diet, and the third, no diet at all.
90 days without food. They had a central line placed to
basically drip enriched sugar water straight into their blood
stream for three months. These researchers were
not messing around. And no exercise or stress management
treatments; they wanted to isolate out the effect of cholesterol lowering
on cardiac blood flow. They started out with miserable
cholesterol levels, and the diminished blood flow
to their hearts to prove it. The dark blue areas represent
so-called perfusion deficits, areas of the heart muscle that aren’t
getting adequate blood flow. After cholesterol-lowering,
their cholesterol was still terrible, but with the improvement, there
was an improvement in blood flow, and their angina attacks
were cut in half. And when they stopped, and their
cholesterol went back up, the blood flow to their heart
muscle went back down. So cholesterol lowering itself appears
to improve blood flow to the heart, and they think it’s because
when cholesterol goes down, endothelial function improves. There’s a new category of anti-angina
drugs, but before committing billions of dollars of public and
private monies to dishing them out, maybe we should take a more serious
and respectful look at dietary strategies that are demonstrably highly
effective for treating angina, and that have also been shown to
reduce subsequent cardiac disease. To date, these strategies
have been marginalized by the ‘drug pusher’ mentality
of orthodox medical practice; presumably doctors feel that most
patients will be unwilling or unable to make the substantial
dietary changes required. While this may be true for many
patients, it certainly is not true for all. And, in any case, angina patients
deserve to be offered the Ornish or Esselstyn diet
alternative before being shunted to expensive surgery or to drug
therapies that can have a range of side effects and never really
get to the root of the problem. In response, a drug company executive
wrote in to the medical journal, “Although diet and lifestyle modifications
should be a part of disease management, many patients
may not be able to comply with the substantial dietary changes
required to achieve a vegan diet.” So, of course, everyone should go on
their fancy new drug called Ranolazine. Costs thousands of dollars
a year to take it, but it works. Collectively, the studies show
that at the highest dose, the fancy new drug may
prolong exercise duration as long as 33 and half seconds. It does not look like those
choosing the drug route will be climbing mountains
anytime soon.