Heart disease reversal a big "No No"

I dare you: Ask your doctor whether coronary heart disease can be reversed.

My prediction is that the answer will be a flat "NO." Or, something like "rarely, in extraordinary cases," kind of like spontaneous cure of cancer.

There are indeed discussions that have developed over the years in the conventional scientific and medical literature about reversal of heart disease, like Dean Ornish's Lifestyle Heart Trial, the REVERSAL Trial of atorvastatin (Lipitor) and the ASTEROID Trial of rosuvastatin (Crestor). Reversal of atherosclerotic plaque in these trials tends to be small in scale and sporadic.

Of course, the medical literature is swamped with studies that have nothing to do with reversal, like what stent is best, what platelet-inhibiting intravenous drug is best, when should angioplasty or stents be used and when, do implantable defibrillators save lives, improvements in coronary bypass techniques, etc. There are tens of thousands of these studies for every study that focuses on the question of atherosclerotic plaque reversal.

The concept of reversal of heart disease has simply not gained a foothold in the lexicon nor in the thinking of practicing physicians. Heart disease is a relentlessly, unavoidably, and helplessly progressive disease in their way of thinking. Perhaps we can reduce the likelihood of cardiovascular events like heart attack and death with statin drugs and beta blockers. But reverse heart disease ? In your dreams!

We need to change this mentality. Heart disease is a reversible phenomenon. Atherosclerosis in other territories like the carotid arteries is also a reversible pheneomenon. Rather than throwing medicines and (ineffective) diets at you (like the ridiculous American Heart Association program), what if your doctor set out from the start not just to reduce events, but to purposefully reduce your heart's plaque? While it might not succeed in everyone, it would certainly change the focus dramatically.

After all, isn't this the theme followed in cancer treatment? If you had a tumor, isn't cure the goal? Would we accept an oncologist's advice to simply reduce the likelihood of death from cancer but ignore the idea of ridding yourself completely of the disease? I don't think so.

Then why accept "event reduction" as a goal in heart disease? We shouldn't have to. Heart disease reversal--elimination--should be the goal.

Comments (7) -

  • Anonymous

    11/12/2007 11:37:00 PM |

    Hi Dr. Davis,

    I'm new to reading your blog.  Does your program actually reduce plaque in arteries?

  • Dr. Davis

    11/12/2007 11:46:00 PM |

    Yes. Please refer to the main website, www.trackyourplaque.com, for full details, including many of our success stories.

  • VeganHeartDoc

    11/19/2007 12:32:00 AM |

    Dr. Davis, I'm 100% in agreement.  I think that we as a medical community view our patients as lazy, not willing to make the changes to their lifestyles and diets needed.  And for most, sadly, we're right, our patients are stuck in their ways of eating and sitting on their rear ends.  But for those few very motivated patients, who essentially go vegetarian and take up an active lifestyle, they can do quite well.

    I'm skeptical of your theories on fasting, though.  I've never heard of an article in a peer-reviewed journal that supports periodic fasting in coronary disease.

  • Dr. Davis

    11/19/2007 2:56:00 AM |


    Though my approach articulated in the Track Your Plaque program for reversal of heart disease is based on genuine science, my thoughts on fasting are admittedly based only on experience with patients, but not on scientific examination.

    But can't the experiences of real life serve as the basis for future scientific scrutiny?

  • Anonymous

    10/17/2009 1:59:55 PM |

    Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn has published numerous scientific papers on the elimination and prevention of heart disease. For more information go to http://www.heartattackproof.com

  • heartMonitron

    7/12/2010 9:55:50 PM |

    Why are Esselstyn's and Ornish's dietary plans not “palatable” to the public? Despite all the evidence pointing to their efficacy?

    For two and and a half year now, I have, like you, tried to present the virtues of their plans on the web. Obviously, that page gets, by far, the the highest bounce rate. When I look at the time spent on the page, it points to the time at which most readers will encounter the word vegetarian. They then flee and run away.

    This has to be somewhat of a cultural nature. As North Americans we have been brought up in a culture that sees the ingestion of meat as being “Manly” and the ingestion of legumes and vegetables as being sissy or belonging to the female gender. Some TV ads for a notorious Nutritional System even talk about “man food”.

    I am not surprised that real food is hard to push. The consumer is bombarded by constant advertising from the meat-packing industry and the fast food industry. The physician is also heavily courted by the pharmaceutical industry ...telling him / her that their pill is better than any diet. Physicians also know that, the moment they mention the word “vegetarian”, they will see the patient immediately lose interest in the important things they try to convey.

    For a page with a high “vegetarian” bounce rate, view: http://www.heartmonitron.com/hm_meddigest_journals_on_nutrition-_heart_and_diabetes-_cholesterol_and_healthy_weight_003.htm

    This phenomenon has to be cultural. We view the ingestion of meat as being the best thing we can do. I, sincerely, wish you the very best luck in your endeavor. As for me, I will keep advocating those principles that have proven to be capable of reversing CHD and shrinking plaque.


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    11/3/2010 8:48:35 PM |

    After all, isn't this the theme followed in cancer treatment? If you had a tumor, isn't cure the goal? Would we accept an oncologist's advice to simply reduce the likelihood of death from cancer but ignore the idea of ridding yourself completely of the disease? I don't think so.