Heart attacks are responsible for countless emergency room visits. The problem is common in different parts of the world. This applies even in younger asymptomatic adults. Artery blockages caused by blood clots or plaques prevent blood flow, which leads to loss of oxygen supply.
Differences in diet contribute significantly to the complications. Western countries face higher rates when compared to those in Asia.
Physicians treat artery blockages surgically. They use either coronary bypass graft or angioplasty. Coronary bypass graft entails the transplantation of veins or arteries from other parts of the body. This allows doctors to redirect the blood flow around the blocked area. On the other hand, angioplasty has the capacity to destroy the plaque.
However, these interventions are generally palliative or temporary efforts. Blockages normally continue progressing by affecting the newly opened vessels.. This necessitates a follow-up coronary bypass graft procedure. It can be carried out after six to eight years. Unfortunately, half of the sufferers eventually succumb to the disease.
Meanwhile, making drastic changes to diet and lifestyle can prevent and reverse the condition. For this reason, it is the treatment of choice.
Reversing Heart Disease
Research conducted by Dr. Dean Ornish showed that heart disease sufferers can reverse the condition without medications or surgery. The physician observed 47 patients with atherosclerosis plaques. Half of the subjects received standard care, which is typically prescribed by doctors. It involved the use of various medications and consumption of a diet focusing on fish, poultry, and lean meat.
The remainder concentrated on intervention methods, such as:
– Stress management exercises
– Brisk walking per day
– Avoiding tobacco
– Low-fat, vegetarian diet
The diet followed by the second group excluded fish, red meat and poultry. This was aimed at virtually eliminating animal fat and cholesterol. Additionally, the diet reduced the use of vegetable oils since they come with traces of saturated fats.
Dr. Ornish measured all the patients’ artery blockages after 12 months. It came as no surprise that the first group showed no signs of improvement despite using a combination of medications and controlled diet. The doctor noticed a worsening of the coronary arteries. The patients were still experiencing chest pains.
Meanwhile, the patients in the second group showed a marked improvement. They experienced no chest pain within weeks of participating in the research. The doctor noticed that their cholesterol levels had dropped significantly without any use of medications. Angiogram measurements showed a substantial reversal of artery blockages.
The findings gave medical practitioners a new tool to help patients fight heart disease. A combination of lifestyle and diet changes cost less than surgery and patients are not faced with the burden of side effects.
Importance of Vegetarian Diets
For best results, cardiovascular disease sufferers should adopt a diet that avoids animal fat and cholesterol. Experts say every 100 milligrams of cholesterol in the diet contributes about five points to the serum cholesterol level. For this reason, it is recommended to avoid animal products. The liver produces sufficient cholesterol needed by the body.
Contrary to popular belief, chicken comes with the same cholesterol content as beef. While poultry has 20 percent fat content, other foods like beans have 4 percent, rice — between 1 and 5 percent and potatoes — less than 1 percent. The fat and cholesterol content of fish varies. Between 15 and 30 percent of the fat found in fish is saturated, which is significantly lower than poultry and beef.
On the other hand, plant products contain zero cholesterol and are low in fat. They are rich in soluble fiber that has the capacity to lower cholesterol.