I am a 50 year old male and have some family history of heart disease.
I failed a stress test which I was sent for after experiencing shortness of breath and heart burn in mid chest while exercising. I failed the stress test mildly: I was on it for 9 minutes and was able to reach my maximum heart rate. But there were some abnormalities during the recovery period.
The doctor wanted to perform an immediate angiography with a possibility of stents. I was uncomfortable making such a decision so fast and asked for some time and rescheduled the angio for a week later.
I had read about Dr Dean Ornish about 10 years ago when my brother in law was diagnosed with heart disease and I remembered about the possibility of reversal of heart disease.
Over the weekend, I went on line and quickly came across Dr Esselstyn's book ("Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease"). I immediately went to Barnes and Noble and got a copy and read it in a few hours. That night, I started on the life style Dr E was advocating.
Eventually I found Dr McDougall and this wonderful web site. The professionally produced videos of Start McDougallers were very inspiring and made me more determined.
I called Dr Esselstyn. To my utter surprise, he called me back within a few hours. I told him about my upcoming Angiography. He told me very confidently that if I follow his advice to the letter, whatever angina I have will be gone in 3 weeks. I asked if I should get the stents and do the diet at the same time. He advised against it and told me to just follow his diet/life style.
In the hope of finding a local cardiologist that supports plant based diets(I live in Raleigh), I called a reputed Cardiologist, Dr Rosati of the famous Rice Diet Program at Duke Hospital. He knew about Dr Esselstyn and Dr McDougall. He told me his plan is very similar and there is likely no need for stents etc. He asked what I weighed in high school and how much I weigh now. He said I would lose all the weight if I followed the diet and that all angina and other troubles would be gone as I lost the weight.
Against the advice of my cardiologist and family doctor and against the wishes of family members, I canceled the angiography.
My wife was crying and insisting that I got the angiography. She had not read the book or talked to Dr Esselstyn or Dr Rosati. After she read parts of the book and we talked at length, she decided to support me.
I started the program as detailed in Dr Esselstyn's book, with the modification of no caffeine, on June 9. My weight was 178 lb (I am 5' 7"). Today, June 28, it is 164 lb. And I have been eating how much ever I want.
I feel great and I don't believe I have any angina though at times it is difficult to tell. Is it heart burn, am I just out of shape? I went for a 4 mile walk today and there was no problem.
My cholesterol about 3 months ago was 199. LDL was 130. 5 days into the program it was 186, LDL 121.
My cardio CRP is high (3.3) and my Hemoglobin A1C is elevated (6.1).
I am on Lipitor, an ace inhibitor, a beta blocker and 2 baby aspirins, as an insurance (that is what Dr Esselstyn advises for people with stable angina, and that is what my cardiologist prescribed)
My question for you trail blazers:
- What should I expect as time goes on?
- When can I get off of some of these medications? What has been your experience?
- How often should I get the lipid profiles and other tests done?
- Should I try and exercise more as time goes on? Or should I take it easy for 3 months or more?
- Did you use any non invasive tests to monitor your progress? Dr Sanjay Gupta talked about a few such tests in his segment on "Heart Attack Proof" plan.
- Any other advice.
Thanks for taking the time to read the long post