Heart Disease – Prevention and Treatment with a Plant-Based Diet

heart attack patientThis article was published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Cardiology and Cardiovascular Therapy in December 2018.

Abstract

Epidemiological studies show that vegetarians have a much lower risk of myocardial infarction. Reductions of risk factors and comorbidities such as angina, hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and obesity have also been shown.

A low-fat plant-based diet can reverse or prevent further progression of coronary atheroma, improve endothelial dysfunction and is effective even in cases of severe stenosis. Studies show that in addition to regression, there is a remolding of the geometry of the stenosis with consequent improvement in coronary flow reserve.

Those following a plant-based diet have much lower total cholesterol and LDL. They also have lower levels of cardio-reactive protein, apolipoprotein (a) and apolipoprotein (b), plus levels of MPO, MMP-9, MMP-2 and MMP-9/TIMP-1 ratios. In addition, studies have determined that vegans produce less TMAO than their omnivorous counterparts after dietary challenge.

Long term exposure to persistent organic pollutants can drastically affect the circulatory system. The consumption of animal products is the greatest source of exposure of these toxins, due to bioaccumulation of these lipophilic toxins in animal tissues.

Interventional studies confirm that a plant-based diet is as effective in lowering cholesterol as statin drugs. Interventional studies show that a plant-based diet can help treat heart failure and is very efficacious in treating angina pectoris. Vegetarians also show better improvements in cardiac rehab.  Follow-up studies at one and four years confirm continued benefit to the patient, and patient compliance has been demonstrated over several years. Treatment with a plant-based diet is devoid of side effects and contraindications. Continue reading