Another Cardiology Chief Goes Vegan. Convinced Yet?

When more and more cardiologists decide a plant-based diet is the way to avoid or repair the damage of heart disease, we need to listen to them. Dr. J. Chad Teeters listened. Hearing the evidence, he became the latest heart doctor to give up meat, dairy and eggs.

Teeters is Chief of Cardiology at Highland Hospital in Rochester, N.Y.  He became inspired to switch to a plant-based diet in the spring of 2016 while attending a continuing medical education course called “A Plant-Based Diet: Eating for Happiness and Health.” There, he watched a presentation given by famed physician, researcher and clinician Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn of the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute.

Esselstyn conducted a 20 year study that many feel proves a plant-based, oil-free diet can prevent heart disease, stop its progression and even reverse it completely.

Interested in what Dr. Esselstyn has to say? Watch this presentation from 2012:

Esselstyn began with a number of patients who came to him already suffering from advanced coronary artery disease. They’d already been through the typical course of treatment — angioplasty, heart bypass operations and so on. Medical science could do nothing more for them. A few of these patients had already been told by their doctors they had no more than a year to live.

Esselstyn placed them all on a plant-based, oil-free diet. That’s when the “miracle” occurred. After only a few months, those nearly hopeless patients bounced back with a vengeance. Their cholesterol levels, blood flow and angina symptoms vastly improved.

The 17 patients who continued to faithfully eat a plant-based diet had no cardiac events even 12 years later. These are patients who’d collectively had 49 cardiac events just prior to taking part in Esselstyn’s study. All that stopped when they began eating plants only.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

Photo credit: Thinkstock

After five years on this type of diet, patient cholesterol levels dropped from a dangerous 246 milligrams per deciliter to 137 mg/dL. Esselstyn notes that cultures in which heart disease essentially doesn’t exist have cholesterol levels of 150 mg/dL or below.

Ultimately, these once hopeless heart patients remained symptom-free for two decades after making this dietary change. That’s hugely impressive. It certainly caused Dr. Teeters to pay attention. He adopted a plant-based diet immediately and has lost 57 pounds since the spring of 2016.

By the way, it was this same study that convinced former president Bill Clinton to adopt a plant-based diet as well. After undergoing emergency heart surgery in 2010, Clinton knew he had to do something to improve his health or he was going to die. He read Esselstyn’s Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease and T. Colin Campbell’s The China Study. Shortly thereafter, he began eating a mostly plant-based diet. Today he’s healthy and lean.

“One of the sad things about medical education is that we don’t get a lot of dietary education,” Teeters told the Connections podcast, “and patients empirically trust us to know these things.”

Dr J. Chad Teeters.  Photo credit: Screen grab from Highland Hospital You Tube video

Dr J. Chad Teeters. Photo credit: Screen grab from Highland Hospital You Tube video

Teeters’ observation is a common refrain. Medical schools currently do not provide a significant amount of dietary and nutritional training. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Biomedical Education found that doctors and nurses are not learning enough about the connection between diet and illness. The study said:

Deficiencies in medical school nutrition education have been noted since the 1960s. Nutrition-related non-communicable diseases, including heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and obesity, are now the most common, costly, and preventable health problems in the U.S. Training medical students to assess diet and nutritional status and advise patients about a healthy diet, exercise, body weight, smoking, and alcohol consumption are critical to reducing chronic disease risk…. The health of the nation depends upon future physicians’ ability to help their patients make diet and lifestyle changes.

As the evidence mounts that plant-based is the way to achieve long-term health, perhaps medical and nursing schools will one day focus more on diet and less on pills for treatment.

Dr. Teeters isn’t the first cardiologist to make this connection and change his diet in response. In August 2014, Care2 told you about Dr. Kim Williams. At the time, he was the president of the
 American College of Cardiology.

When one of his patients unexpectedly made an almost complete recovery from a heart condition, Williams asked her what she’d done. She told him she’d gone vegan, started exercising and was meditating. Intrigued, he looked into it. Convinced by what he read, he adopted a vegan diet too. He’s never looked back.

Dr. Robert Ostfield, founder of the Cardiac Wellness Program at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York, is another cardiologist who beats the drum loudly for plant-based diets.

“Outside of a medical emergency, such as someone getting shot and needing urgent surgery, I’ve never seen anything come close to the breadth and depth of benefits that a plant-based diet provides,” Ostfield wrote on MindBodyGreen. “Some patients have even cried tears of joy because they feel so much better.”

When cardiologists say we need to stop eating animals — and when they do so themselves — we ought to be listening to them. They’re in a unique position.  They see the incredible damage meat eating does to us. They deal with it day in and day out. It’s
 great to see cardiologists realizing one by one that plant-based eating, not pills and stents, is the way to save us from heart disease and other illnesses.

What you put in your mouth can be the cause of your disease or it can be the means of preventing it. It’s all up to you. Stop eating animals or anything that comes from animals.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

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