Coronary Artery Disease and Plant Based Diet

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In Adults With Advanced Coronary Artery Disease Can a Plant-Based, Ayurvedic Diet Stop the Progression of the Disease and/or Reverse its Effects Better Than Treatment with Medications and Medical Interventions? Jennifer Dodge

Bryan College of Health Sciences

Coronary artery disease (CAD) is a narrowing of the small blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart. The narrowing is caused by a buildup of plaque in the arteries which is also called the hardening of the arteries. As the disease progresses, blood flow to the heart can slow down or stop. Individuals with this degree of disease typically have suffered from one or more heart attacks and may have signs and symptoms of ischemia such as chest pain and pulmonary edema. It is the leading cause of death in the United States for men and women. Treatment for CAD consists of taking one or more medications to treat blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol such as nitrates, calcium channel antagonists, ACE-inhibitors, and statins. The goal of these drugs is to reduce blood pressure to less than or equal to 140/90 and LDL cholesterol level less than or equal to 100 mg/dL. Some people can maintain a healthy life by changing their diet, stopping smoking and taking medication. Other people will need medical procedures such as angioplasty or surgery. Vegetarians have been shown to have a 24% reduced risk of dying from heart disease (Esselstyne, 2008). This literature review is being conducted to determine if an Ayurvedic diet can stop the progression of the disease and also reverse its effects instead of treating them with medications and medical interventions in adults with advanced coronary artery disease. Literature Review

In a study by Ornish, D., Scherwitz, L., Billings, J., Gould, L. (1998), the researchers discovered that the progression of coronary artery disease could be stopped or reversed without using lipid-lowering drugs. The progression was stopped by sustaining intensive lifestyle changes consisting of a vegetarian diet and exercise. After one year, the participants who were able to maintain the lifestyle changes showed a 37.2% reduction in LDL cholesterol levels and had a 91% reduction in the frequency of anginal episodes. There was also an average percent diameter stenosis regression from 40% to 37.8%. In contrast, the patients with the usual care control such as with statins and other medications made only a 6% reduction in LDL levels and had 16.5% increase in the frequency of anginal episodes. Their percent diameter stenosis actually progressed from 42.7% to 46.1%. The difficulty is in maintaining such lifestyle changes. The experimental group adherence was excellent the first year and good after 5 years. Another benefit to the plant based diet with exercise was that the experimental group lost on average 23.9 lbs the first year. Weight is a risk factor in developing coronary artery disease. Being overweight can increase blood pressure, increase risk for diabetes, and possibly increase LDL levels. These findings support the feasibility of stopping and also reversing the progression of coronary artery disease in adults by maintaining a plant-based, Ayurvedic diet.

Another study by He, F. et al (2007) also set out to determine the relation of fruit and vegetable intake and the incidence of coronary artery disease. The study showed that an increased consumption of fruit and vegetables is related to approximately 17% reduction of the risk of developing coronary artery disease. Individuals had to consume more than 5 servings per day. This was also combined with other lifestyle changes such as exercise and smoking cessation. There were problems with the study in that they could not accurately measure the dietary assessment and individuals who eat more fruits and vegetables tend to intake less salt and saturated fat and also exercise more and don't smoke. It is speculated that there will be a stronger association in...
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