Home » Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn on Making Heart Attacks History (Full Transcript)

Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn on Making Heart Attacks History (Full Transcript)

He became the absolute personification of commitment to plant-based nutrition, and over the next 30 months he then had another angiogram. You know, up in the surgical suites, our offices are three doors apart, and at noontime of the day that I knew earlier that morning he had his follow-up angiogram, I found myself letting myself into his office. There he was sitting behind his desk, “Joe, I understand you had the old follow-up angiogram this morning, mind sharing with me how did it go?”

Got up from around his desk, put his arms around me, “I think we’re doing okay.”

“Well, any chance I could see the follow-up angiogram?”


So it was really quite striking and exciting to see what actually can happen. When you give the body every opportunity it can, the healing capacity is incredible.

So now let’s talk a little bit about how do you injure the artery in the first place, what seems to be going wrong? Now on the right, there is a seriously diseased artery, and you probably say that’s going to have a heart attack. No, that only causes about 10% of heart attacks, but it certainly will cause chest pain and shortness of breath. What I really want you to notice is on the left and here on the inside of this artery, there’s a very, very, tiny little dark single layer of cell, “magic carpet”, that all experts would agree is where the inception of this disease occurs. This magic carpet is called the endothelium. And the endothelium has an absolutely magic molecule that it produces — it’s a gas, nitric oxide.

Nitric oxide has a number of wonderful functions. Nitric oxide keeps our blood flowing smoothly like Teflon, rather than velcro. Two, nitric oxide is the strongest vasodilator in the body. When you climb stairs, the arteries to your heart dilate, the arteries to your legs dilate. Nitric oxide inhibits inflammation from the wall of the artery, protect you from getting hypertension, and most importantly nitric oxide in plentiful amounts will protect you from ever developing blockages or plaque.

All right, how do those 90% of heart attacks occur? You will see here the artery is divided and what you’re looking at in the first serial on the left, is that when you start eating that cheeseburger, the pizza, the milkshake, your blood flow gets sticky. And certain elements like your endothelial cells get sticky, your LDL cholesterol gets sticky, and then the LDL bad cholesterol migrates into the sub endothelial space where it sets up this absolute cauldron of inflammation. And that cauldron of inflammation begins making inflammatory enzymes that gradually begin to thin out this delicate cap over the plaque. It gets thinner and thinner until it’s thin as a cobweb and then the sheer force of blood going over that thinned out plaque ruptures and now we have spillage of plaque content into the flowing blood, which activates our platelets, our clotting factor.

Now we are at the beginning of a clot, a thrombosis, which is in and of itself, self-propagating. So in a matter of minutes, now we have an artery that is totally blocked, and all the downstream heart muscle has been deprived of oxygen and nutrients and starts to die. That’s the heart attack.

But there is something absolutely magically exciting about this series, because if I can convince you that all you have to do is change your nutrition so your internal biochemistry is such that you will not injure or thin out the cap over your plaque, you will actually diminish your plaque, and you will strengthen the cap over the plaque.

All right, how do we do this? It’s very easy, we avoid the foods that injure the endothelium. What are they? Even pure virgin olive oil, corn oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, coconut oil, palm oil, dairy. Anything with a mother or a face, meat, fish — meat, fish, chicken and turkey and also caffeine in coffee and fructose.

All right, what are you going to eat? All those marvelous whole grains for your cereal, bread and pasta. 101 different types of legumes, vegetables, which are red, yellow and green leafy and fruit. But especially the green leafy vegetables are like water on the fire. What green leafy vegetables? Bok choy, swiss chard, kale, collards, collard greens, pink greens, mustard greens, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, cilantro, parsley, spinach and arugula and I’m out of breath. But remember, no oil!

Now conventional cardiology with all those procedures and all that expense, is high mortality, high morbidity and sadly it does not cure the disease and the expense is unsustainable. However when you’re treating causality with plant-based nutrition, no mortality with the diet, no morbidity with the diet, and what happens with the passage of time, the benefits just continue to improve.

And lastly nobody has greater fear of another heart attack than somebody who’s already had a heart attack, and how empowering it can be for them and their family to know that they themselves can now become the locus of control for this disease, destroying it. Whereas in the past it had been trying to destroy them.

And that lastly I want to just share with you, this isn’t just that original earlier study. But what we’re about to publish — another 200 patients, and the reason we have 91% compliance is because we have a very strong intense single five hour counseling seminar and that’s the same amount of time the cardiac surgeon has, but I have the patient when they’re awake.

So how do we do? If we look at the vertical axis what you’re seeing here is the average of about three independent cohorts cardiology studies that are quite well known, and the recurrent cardiac events after four years run about 20% on average. Our own, which is called Treating The Cause, is a half of 1%, that means roughly a 40 fold difference.

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