In 1985, Esselstyn recruited patients with advanced but not immediately life-threatening heart disease for a clinical trial to explore whether heart disease might be reversed using diet. He confirmed the severity of the coronary artery disease with angiograms to be sure that their disease progression was advanced. The only other requirement for admission into the study was a willingness to attempt the dietary changes he proposed: effectively, a WFPB* diet.Zero cardiovascular events over 26 years for people who had advanced, symptomatic heart disease, many of whom underwent aggressive treatments including multiple bypass operations. Five were told by their cardiologists they had less than a year to live.
Dr. Esselstyn formally reported his findings at 5 and 12 years. In the 8 years prior to the study, his 18 subjects had had 49 coronary episodes (e.g., heart attacks angioplasty, bypass surgery), but during the 12 years after adopting a WFPB diet, there was only one event, involving a patient who strayed from his diet. He has casuallly followed his subjects since then and all but 5 are still alive today, 26 years later. The 5 who passed away did not die of cardiac fauilure, but from other causes. ... And the ones who are still alive are cardiac symptom free. The subjects had 49 cardiovascular events in the 96 months prior to the intervention, and zero cardiovascular events in the roughly 312 months since the intervention began. This life-and-death finding is about as profound as any health benefit I have even known. Nothing else in medicine comes close.
"After 5 years on Dr. Esselstyn’s plant-based diet, the average total cholesterol levels of his research group dropped from 246 mg/dl to 137 mg/dL (Above 240 mg/dL is considered “high risk,” below 150 mg/dL is the total cholesterol level seen in cultures where heart disease is essentially nonexistent.) This is the most profound drop in cholesterol ever documented in the medical literature in a study of this type."* WFPB is a Whole Foods Plant Based diet. I'm familiar with Dr. Esselstyn's WFPB diet. It restricts all animal foods (no meat, fish, eggs, cheese and other dairy) and all added fat. It even restricts nuts and avacado for those with established heart disease or those whose total cholesterol is not below 150 mg/dl. So, no oil-based salad dressing, no cooking or baking with oil or fat. These were some very motivated patients.