How-to-Prevent-a-Heart-Attack

Image Credit: Sally Plank

How to Prevent a Heart Attack

In my video Arterial Acne, I described atherosclerotic plaques as inflamed pockets of pus. Our coronary arteries start out healthy, but then the saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol in the standard American diet increase the cholesterol in our blood, which accumulates in the artery wall. This triggers an inflammatory response. This so-called fatty streak can then grow into an atherosclerotic plaque, which has the potential to rupture into our artery. If that happens, a blood clot forms, shutting off blood flow to a part of our heart, which can then die off and ultimately kill us.

What causes that final step, the rupture of the plaque? Ten years ago, researchers at Michigan State proposed a mechanism. They noted that when you look at ruptured plaques from autopsies of people who died from heart attacks, they are filled with cholesterol crystals protruding out from the plaque. So, the researchers wondered if maybe all that cholesterol in the plaque gets so supersaturated that it reaches a point where it crystallizes like sugar water forming rock candy. The growing crystals may then burst the plaque open.

To test out this theory, they first made a supersaturated solution of cholesterol in a test tube to see if it expanded when it crystallized, and indeed it did–just like how water expands when it crystallizes into ice. In my video Cholesterol Crystals May Tear Through Our Artery Lining, you can see a massive cholesterol crystal shooting out the top of a test tube. Under a microscope,  the tips of the cholesterol crystals were sharp jagged needles.

The researchers tried placing a thin membrane over the top of the test tube to see if the cholesterol needles would poke through, and indeed the sharp tips of the cholesterol crystals cut through the membrane. This suggested that the crystallization of supersaturated cholesterol in atherosclerotic plaques could indeed induce the rupture that kills us.

A test tube is one thing, but can you actually see crystals poking out in autopsy specimens? Yes, cholesterol crystals piercing the arterial plaque were found in patients who died with heart attacks, with extensive protrusions of cholesterol crystals into the middle of the artery.

What makes us think it was the crystals that actually burst the plaque? All those studied who died of acute heart attacks had perforating cholesterol crystals sticking out of their plaques, but no crystals were found perforating the arteries of people who had severe atherosclerosis, but died first of other, non-cardiac causes.

This can explain why dramatically lowering cholesterol levels with diet (and drugs, if necessary) can reduce the risk of fatal heart attack, by pulling cholesterol out of the artery wall, and decreasing the risk of crystallizing these cholesterol needles that may pop your plaque.

Given the powerful visuals, my Cholesterol Crystals May Tear Through Our Artery Lining video might be a good one to share with those in your life with heart disease, in hopes that they might reconsider eating artery-clogging diets.

Blocking the First Step of Heart Disease involves keeping our LDL cholesterol low by decreasing our intake of Trans Fat, Saturated Fat, and Cholesterol: Tolerable Upper Intake of Zero. Swapping red meat for white won’t do it: Switching From Beef to Chicken and Fish May Not Lower Cholesterol

Does it matter if LDL cholesterol in our blood is small and dense or large and fluffy? See my video Does Cholesterol Size Matter?

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations:

Discuss

Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.


61 responses to “How to Prevent a Heart Attack

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  1. I have been eating whole food plant based for 3 months now (not perfect but pretty good) … just got back my lipid profile and have some concerns …
    In Dec 2016 my lipid profile was TCholesterol 208 now 171. Hdl was 61 … now 45. LDL was 129 … now 103. triglyc were 93 … now 116.
    I would like my LDL to be lower, and I’m concerned my triglycerides increased. Female age 55, on no meds, blood pressure usually low, weight went from 144 to 130. exercise regularly. Maybe too many carbs … i do eat honey bunches of oats at night as my junk food (cutting back now). should i expect my numbers to continue to improve over time ?




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    1. Your triglycerides are still in the normal range, so maybe not an issue?

      But if you want to pursue, Dr. John McDougall recommends eliminating simple sugars, including fruit and fruit juice: “A diet high in complex carbohydrates (low fat) and low in simple sugars (even fruits and fruit juice) reduces triglycerides very effectively. It may be especially important to reduce the intake of the simple sugar fructose.”

      Full article: https://www.drmcdougall.com/misc/2003nl/030100putamingelevatedtriglycerides.htm

      Hope that helps.




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    2. A. M. – I, too had a similar thing happen when I went WFPB, SOS (no added sugar, oil, salt). I eat food as grown – an orange not orange juice. Cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides all went up. I am slightly older than you and all other blood work is normal or better than it was previous to WFPB diet. BMI of 21.5. After a lifetime of cholesterol at 160 (or so) now 200 with WFPB diet; LDL 70, now 99, triglycerides outside upper normal range. Fasting glucose way improved, however from 125 to 91. I, too, have been confused. I don’t know the answer or understand – yet – why. But I did re-read Joel Fuhrman M.D.’s book Eat to Live. He is the only one of “The Docs” who advocate plant based living who has addressed this issue that I’ve been able to see. He suggested, in his book, to switch to a Beans and Greens diet i.e., reduce the carbs like rice, breads, etc. I did write to Dr. McDougall’s program and did get a response from Dr. McD (a little canned but a response nonetheless). His suggestion was that losing weight on a plant based diet would cause more fats to be in the blood stream as my body shed weight. However, at a BMI of 21.5 I am no longer in weight-losing mode.
      I am currently thinking about this whole issue in terms of energy in/energy out. I don’t have results yet, but have been eating the “beans, corn, potatoes” that McDougall advocates earlier in the day so that the body has a chance to burn off the energy. For evening meal no to almost-no concentrated carbs i.e. lots of greens and salad:greens, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini (very filling), etc. I am also building into my day a 12-hr/night fasting window to, again, allow the body time to burn off the daily calories.
      Like you, I don’t know what the answer is but I think it might be in tweaking the diet appropriately somehow. I still believe WFPB is the way to go.
      An added thought is this: what do the feedlots feed cows to fatten them up? Grain, and then keep them contained (no exercise). What is a leaner cow? – a grass-fed cow allowed to graze. So I think there might be some clues there for us.
      In following this site over time I have seen others have this same situation crop up – where their cholesterol, LDL numbers went up after switching to WFPB. That is the reason I am chiming in today – because there are clearly others whose numbers do not drop and do not get down to 150mgs cholesterol. I saw an interview with T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. and he was asked that exact question. He stated that not everyone may get down to 150 mgs/dL but that he believes a WFPB diet is still the healthier one. McDougall ultimately said to me to stay the course and not worry about the cholesterol level if one is eating WFPB, SOS and other blood work numbers are good.
      I would like to see the WFPB Physicians themselves weigh in on this issue as I have seen many comments over time like yours and mine where our numbers went up despite an excellent WFPB, SOS, food as grown diet.
      I think there is more, yet, that we need to learn and understand.




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      1. VeggHead: Great post. While most of the time, people improve on a WFBP diet, like you, I have seen other people report the reverse. So, I hope you will keep us informed of your progress as it sounds like you are trying all the right things.

        Another thought: I had a friend who took 3 years before her cholesterol levels got to a point that she is happy with. Maybe for some people it takes time for their body adjust to healthier eating and respond appropriately??? I’m not an expert in any way, so take that speculation for what it is worth.




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        1. I am going on my 10th years of WFPB, SOS, food as grown diet. My recipes are from Mary McDougall. My cholesterol-related numbers have not varied appreciably in the entire time. At one point I put on some weight (BMI 24) then back down to my current 21.5. No change.
          I will have my blood work done this next month and will report back if anything has improved. HOwever, given it is 10 years now, with no significant changes in my cholesterol-related numbers, I am not expecting much. But we will see. Meanwhile I did find this Dr. G video on alkaline water showing improvement in cholesterol and glucose numbers. For the heck of it, I am going to follow this protocol just to see if anything changes.
          http://nutritionfacts.org/video/alkaline-water-a-scam/




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          1. VeggHead: Thanks for the clarification.

            re: The alkaline water video. That reminds me of another idea that I often share with people. NutritionFacts has several videos about specific foods which are shown to lower cholesterol levels. I think that even if someone has an already very healthy diet, they might want to tweak their diet to include foods known to lower cholesterol levels if that’s a concern/need. The following page contains a list of those foods: http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/cholesterol/

            Good luck!




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            1. Thanks for your thoughts and link Thea. I’ve been all over this site for years and years now and already incorporate 2/3 of the list of suggestions on the link you posted. I posted below on my diet of 30 years ago – meat-based – and a cholesterol of 150mg/dL. And now, on WFPB SOS food as grown, have increasing cholesterol. I can’t help but wonder if this is a part of the aging process. Interestingly, blood pressure on WFPB, etc. diet did reduce from 130/80 to 103/63. So it’s an interesting mix. Regardless, because of the work of the plant-based Docs, Campbell, et. al., I am still convinced it’s the right way to go.




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              1. VeggHead: re: “part of the aging process” I have a different theory. I can’t find it right now, but NutritionFacts has a video about a plant based culture whose cholesterol levels never rise from birth levels–and even go *down* later in life. There could be some genetic factors going on here, but my theory is that bodies which have been exposed to human-healthy diets from the beginning act normally/differently than bodies which start out with less than than healthy diets. I understand you have been eating super healthy for years now. However, there are any number of explanations for what you are experiencing. I don’t think the data necessarily supports the idea that cholesterol levels go up as a *natural* part of aging for the general population. Even just from a ‘thinking about it’ perspective, that theory doesn’t make sense to me.

                If you ever find that video that I’m talking about above (that looks at a culture’s life-long cholesterol levels), please do share the link with me. I’ve been trying to find it for a few months now. It is hiding well. :-O




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    3. Anna Murphy, congrats on lowering your total cholesterol and LDL! Triglycerides increase with fat in your diet, but also simple sugars (such as in the honey, in your Honey Bunches of Oats) and alcohol. If a late-night sweet craving hits you, you may want to try eating bigger (healthy!) meals throughout the day so that you’re not feeling famished by night time. If you still have that sugar-craving, have you tried satisfying it with a fruit (frozen mango or pineapple chunks are the go-to snacks in my kitchen).




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    4. I have no real answers to your question. However, here are a couple of points you may want to consider
      “Habitual consumption of unfiltered coffee, such as French pressed and boiled coffee, has been shown to increase total and LDL-cholesterol concentrations due to high concentrations of the cholesterol-raising compound cafestol.87 Paper-filtered or instant coffees do not appear to have cholesterol-raising effects.”
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3745769/

      Also, we know that cholesterol can vary according to the stage of a woman’s menstrual cycle and that post menstrual women may experience changes in lipid metabolism
      ” The lack of 17-beta-estradiol leads likely to various lipid metabolism disorders in women after menopause. Estrogens therapy in these postmenopausal women may result in the improvement of lipid metabolism.”
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9741194

      You may want to discuss this latter issue with your doctor?




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    5. Also, one thing many doctors and other experts fail to point out to women in your and my age group(50-55) is that when menopause kicks in, it will raise the bad cholesterol levels of some women by as much as 65%…This seems to b what happened with me, someone who has Never had cholesterol or pressure issues, also I am very lean, and when I hit 55 this year, all of a sudden I am with somewhat high level of cholesterol which has NEVER been the case. I can safely attribute this to the drop and protection of estrogen. Do your research on what i have shared and pointed out to you, and you will be surprised, and hopefully relieved that it can easily be reversed and is hopefully short-lived once your body adjusts to being with the protection of Estrogen…So many doctors are Not aware or Not discussing this phenomenon with their female patients, including this doctor….Good Luck




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  2. On the topic of the presentation style of the videos, I re-watched the video mentioned in the above article:

    http://nutritionfacts.org/video/cholesterol-crystals-may-tear-though-our-artery-lining/

    To me, this video is one of the best presentation styles used on this site. It was done back in April 2015. It incorporates plenty of pictures, diagrams, and graphs that help the reader visualize what is going on with arterial plaque. And the research paper titles are all clearly visible and the flow of speech moves at a perfect pace.

    This is the kind of video I like to share with my animal eating friends and family. I think this video is the one that converted some of them to become Whole Food – Plant Based!




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    1. I agree this was the best style of video. Did you also notice how the title of the article was held at the top while the highlighted text was inserted below the title? It’s much easier to read than flashing the title briefly, wiping it, and then presenting the highlighted text.

      This method seems to contain more information in a shorter period of time, too. The video was only a little over three minutes.




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  3. What to make of all the nutritional pundits who claim that fat is not the enemy? A noteworthy one is a functional medicine doctor based at Cleveland Clinic!




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    1. I’m having the same dilemma, Lee. They have studies too. I think just how some people on this site are vegetarian, some are vegan, and some are low meat eaters, I think everyone’s body is a bit different. I just read about someone who switched to a vegan diet, and said he absolutely hated it, but that it would help him live longer. I think maybe he needs to try some different recipes and ways of preparing the foods.

      The late Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez had a profile of 10 different diets to help his clients battle cancer and he was very successful and innovative. I think it’s possible that different bodies have different needs.
      John S




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      1. I totally agree – diet is not a one-size-fits-all proposition for the prevention of heart or any other disease. The “fat is bad” message is dead, although this site continues to vilify it. Our current epidemic of obesity and type 2 diabetes is due to sedentary lifestyle, trans fats and too many highly processed carbs.




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        1. “The ‘fat is bad’ message is dead, although this site continues to vilify it.”

          Yes, This site correctly vilifies ANIMAL fats and cholesterol because they are unhealthy for humans. Plant fats are fine..,, nuts, seeds, olives, avacados are your friend. If you disagree with the studies Dr Gs presents then please specifiy what paper or study you feel he is in error on so we can go over it. What are your thoughts on the cholesterol crystals poking through as shown in the picture at the top of the page? Do you ignore this information as well when talking about the “fat is your friend” argument?




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          1. Plant fats are fine..,, nuts, seeds, olives, avacados are your friend.

            I do not think ‘plant fats’ are fine…and neither does Dr. Caldwell Esselstyne.

            Anybody with heart disease should not consume any fats. Anybody over the age of 20 years consuming/or has consumed a ‘western diet’…has heart disease (in one form or another).




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          2. The bad fats are the trans fats, not the saturated fats:Saturated Fats: Bad, Not So Bad?

            | | | | | |

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            | | | | Saturated Fats: Bad, Not So Bad?
            Saturated fats have long been called ”bad fats” for their effect on heart health. But a new an… | |

            |

            |




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  4. My father believes he can eat all kinds of cakes and ice cream and meats because he takes a Statin and his blood numbers are good. This is a guy who had a major heart attack, stints, and ultimately a 5 way bypass. He used to follow an Ornish diet but his new “partner” has influenced him to disregard these findings unfortunately. It’s exceptional sad to see someone you love go down the wrong nutritional road needlessly because of the influence of marketing or people that cannot be helped.




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      1. Yeah it would seem that way. There were literally dozens of times that she made a big fuss at a gathering and encouraged him to “live a little” and eat her piece of cake because she couldn’t finish it. All the way to a 5 way bypass that nearly killed him. But he’s too old for insurance. He got trapped in a relationship with a narcissist unfortunately.




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    1. Been there with members of my own family and many friends. It is astonishing to see people do exactly what you described and do things to rationalize and justify their life-destroying habits and addictions.

      I’ve determined that all I can do is be a role model and if I can influence even one person that way– that is better than zero. You just wish it could be the ones you love the most.




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  5. I changed from a pescatarian/dairy diet to a fully vegan diet at the end of last year. I used to eat well but did have regular small amounts of eggs and cheese. In the past my cholesterol reading has been around 5.2. I recently had a medical and was expecting my LDL reading to be lower from a plant based diet, but I was surprised and a bit disheartened to find it had actually risen to 5.6.
    Was I expecting too much, too soon? I know that the liver produces cholesterol itself so could my liver be producing more to compensate from a reduction in my diet to what it thinks is a normal level? I thought I had been eating well, almost all natural whole foods, so was a bit puzzled. I have lost some fat, so could the resident fat be being transported in the blood and account for the higher reading?
    I was going to continue my current diet and get another check up in a couple of months and see what the results are. I’m interested from any medical professionals views why switching to vegan whole foods could cause an increase in LDL levels.




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    1. Hi Nick- I’m Dr Anderson, a cardiologist and volunteer with Dr Greger. It’s unusual to have an increase in LDL upon starting a whole food plant based diet. As for dietary factors, of course you’re aiming for high whole fruits, whole vegetables, whole grains, and beans. You want to not include added oils (like in cooking or sauces), added sugar, or added salt (although this latter doesn’t effect cholesterol directly). Alcohol also raises the cholesterol, mainly triglycerides.

      Your LDL at 5.6 is quite high. It’s possible that you may also suffer familial hyperlipidemia (FH). A 10% fat, whole food, plant based diet is critical for FH, and medications may also be needed as well.

      It’s been a few months since your post. I’m hoping by now your trend has improved!




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  6. Why don’t we question how the cholesterol crystals were formed?

    The cholesterol crystals can be formed through form cells, according to “Crystallization of free cholesterol in model macrophage foam cells” http://atvb.ahajournals.org/content/19/8/1891.short

    Then, we must ask how the foam cells appeared in the arteries.
    “Once LDL is oxidized, it is assimilated by macrophages to become foam cells.” refer to https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20428172

    Then, a good question to be asked is how LDL becomes oxidized.




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    1. Jason asks, “Why don’t we question how the cholesterol crystals were formed?” And I have to agree– I followed the supersaturation model as far as it went, but why should cholesterol develop sharp spikes like these?

      For that matter, I was unaware anything non-mineral could develop such crystals in saturation. All of us have read of uric acid “crystals” in gout, but never imagined such a nightmarish appearance.

      These are something out of the movie, “Alien”




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      1. Cyclodextrins are reported to desolve/remove cholesterol plaques including cholesterol crystals.
        They already started using cyclodextrins in Europe for those who were unable to remove cholesterol from blood.

        However, no study is yet done on if human can convert amylose from starch to cyclodextrins in the gut.




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  7. This is the first article in which I have seen Dr Greger promote “(drugs if necessary)” in addition to diet. Is this now the concensus, that diet alone does not work for some individuals? I would like to here the experts weigh in on this. What about red rice yeast?




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    1. Jean, thanks for noticing that “drugs if necessary” comment. I would not take this to mean that Dr. Greger is “selling out” or that he’s promoting use of cholesterol medications instead of dietary changes. I interpret this to be along the lines of what Dr. Esselstyn teaches: a super low fat, WFPB diet to get cholesterol levels below 150mg/dl. (Cholesterol levels below 150mg/dl are considered heart attack proof.) For the VERY SMALL portion of the population that is truly adhering to the above dietary guidelines yet still has a cholesterol level above 150mg/dl, Dr. Esselstyn does advise medication. I think that is what Dr. Greger is implying when he says “drugs if necessary”. After all, I think we all agree that drugs would NOT be “necessary” if people adhered to a WFPB diet.




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  8. Well Stephanie, I would have to disagree with your last statement if only on the basis of just my own experience. I adhere to a wfpb no oil diet for 22 months now, and I cant get near 150 mg cholesterol.. in my dreams ! After an initial drop in my cholesterol in the first thirty days of wfpb eating, my cholesterol has slowly been making the climb back up as if there is a level it seeks of its own..in spite of diligently adhering to sparten fare. With a bmi of 18.5 I dont have a lot more I can lose. Dont drink, dont eat processed foods, eat apples, tried the baking soda and water thing, exercise 1 to 2 hrs or more daily. What makes it more frustrating is that my doctor tells me its not uncommon with women, yet I have yet to see the plant based doctors speak about this issue. I dont think its that small of proportion of the population. Just my thoughts.




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    1. Susan – thanks for chiming in. See my post above re: the same issue re: increase of cholesterol on WFPB diet. I have wondered the same thing about cholesterol – wondering if there is a level at which cholesterol seeks its own level (so to speak) in one’s body. Once one removes all of the external cholesterol-containing foods from one’s diet our own physiology takes over? Since our livers produce our own cholesterol I can’t help but wonder if there is a biological ‘reason’ for the body to produce it to a certain level. I have blood work going back 30 years. My diet then was chicken and fish, baked or sauteed, fresh vegg, no processed foods, no processed meats of any kind, eggs and some (not much) cheese, no milk. And my cholesterol was 150mg/dL. Thirty years later, on WFPB SOS food as grown diet my cholesterol is at 200 and LDL up. I can’t help but wonder if this is a part of the aging process. I’m glad to see other people talking about this.




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      1. Thanks VeggHead for your comments – our stories are very similar, including the part about having lower cholesterol while eating healthy but not vegan diet. Up until 10 years ago my total cholesterol was less than 150 mg.. then rose to almost 240 ! The last time I tried a fast food burger was in 1995, so I am not out there quaffing the SAD.
        Yes, its an odd thing I noticed that a dietary change might produce a lowering of cholesterol, but it seems to drift upwards ‘seeking ‘ some level. I even tried accupuncture for a year trying to influence the functioning of my liver.. to no avail. I cant help thinking that we are missing important pieces of the puzzle in this, and I also wonder if thats why the benefits of statins etc are so modest ? (I cant take statins btw,, – I spent 5 yrs in side effect h*ll trying) What I have found though is that its worthwhile concentrating on the anti inflammatory picture rather than worrying about cholesterol levels.
        I too am glad people are talking about it, and wish the plant base docs would step up to the podium as well.




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        1. Susan, your comment about concentrating on anti-inflammatory aspects is a great idea. I am 75, was advised to have a hip transplant 3 years ago because of degeneration. The WFPB diet has eliminated the inflammation, not only in the hip but in my fingers, etc. so no pain and no hip replacement! Plus, and this is a BIG one, I was in a pre-glaucoma condition with pressure in my eye and chronic dry eye. Those conditions have now been reversed with the diet. With my high cholesterol, maybe I should just relax a little and continue on with the diet and high level of exercise I’m doing now. It’s very hard working with doctors who have not connected with the WFPB benefits. There are no plant based docs where I am. Thanks!




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          1. Wow Angela, thanks for sharing some of your experiences and successes! I agree with both yourself, VeggHead, and the others that wfpb eating is the best way to go no matter where our cholesterol numbers are. I know the diet and exercise are working. .. the cardiologist told me that I had the lowest inflammation levels he had seen in his career, so if our endothelium is enjoying the peace, love, and harmony, I think we are doing well. From what I have read , post menopausal women can experience higher cholesterol levels as tom alluded to, above (thanks tom!) We are not the first in human history to experience this. For me, attending to inflammation levels seems to be garnering results including healing my stomach – no more GERD.
            Thanks again Angela , sounds like you’re doing great !




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  9. I completely agree with WFPB-Hal, Josh, and the others above about the presentation style of http://nutritionfacts.org/video/cholesterol-crystals-may-tear-though-our-artery-lining/
    Just fantastic! I also really appreciate, as Josh mentioned, that the title of the journal article is held in the left-hand corner as the text boxes come up. Gives me plenty of time to see the journal title and date of publication. Dr. Greger, your initial instincts in terms of how to present the material were spot on! So refreshing to go back to it after watching the newer presentation styles. So easy to follow and no unpleasant somatic responses (like nausea, dizziness) or distractions!




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  10. Perhaps the pharmaceutical companies and their lobbyists ($$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$), are trying to scare us into thinking that cholesterol at a certain level is dangerous, when in fact it may be normal. Maybe they artificially lowered the numbers to make money off their drugs which have side-affects that require us to compensate with more drugs. There was a time when cigarette companies did studies that showed that smoking was actually healthy. Eat as healthy as you can and exercise and meditate. Then just live your life. Death is inevitable. In the meantime live as healthy, happy, and simple a life as you can manage.




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  11. Another repeat story of high cholesterol. After muscle atrophy in legs from statins, went off and became vegan and then through Dr. Campbell’s book, The China Study, began applying WFPB diet completely – almost 4 years ago. My latest LDL is 149 and triglycerides (300!!). I do 15 miles/wk on indoor bike plus 2 hours of weight lifting/strengthening in a class/wk. Strong supporter of Dr. G., have his book, contribute and saw him in Concord NH a few months ago. Try to follow all his ideas, even the 2 brazil nuts/month (which I chew while my dog is chewing his monthly heartworm meds, ha ha). My doctor is pressuring me to go back on statins. I am trying to get a Carotid Artery Calcium Scan (not covered by insurance), and am working on finding a hospital that will do this. I obviously have an inherited condition and my liver is producing a lot of cholesterol. I don’t know if I should just ignore this because my diet/exercise is superior or if I should bite the bullet and take those awful statins. I take no meds except for thyroid replacement (from cancer and thyroidectomy 20 yrs. ago). I have done everything in my power to beat this, but it has beat me I’m afraid.




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    1. angela.bell: Here’s an idea for you: Dr. Michael Klaper is a well respected plant based doctor who does phone consultations and has worked with many, many patients. Maybe it would be worth it to give him a try?




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  12. Before Dr. Greger broached the topic, most of us were unaware plaque rupture involves such a sinister final phase.

    The cholesterol crystal spikes are sharper / more penetrating than any shark’s tooth, and though described as “needles”, these are effective cutting surfaces– absolutely terrifying to imagine growing anywhere in the body.




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    1. One other comment on the cholesterol spikes– there appear to be holes in the plaque membrane which are not occupied by spikes. What could account for these? Were they noted by researchers?




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  13. Forum manager— There is no reason to keep a restrictive window for delayed edits. In fact, many forums keep the edit option open indefinitely for the original poster.

    As with my own situation under the current regime, once the edit window has expired, comment must be attached to comment, rather than edited into an existing comment..




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  14. This is very interesting. In a related topic have you heard of the arterial plaque treatment by Linus Pauling? It’s 4 grams of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) per day along 2 grams of L-lysine, an amino acid. The treatment reduces plaques by 25% in 5 weeks. That is vastly superior to any engineered medications. Theory goes that vitamin C cleanses the plaque and L-lysine keep new plaques for adhearing.

    Though I have no circulatory problems (that I am aware of) I did it and still do to this day. My BP used to be 125/72 or so and lately it’s 103/70. No other real changes.

    While Linus Pauling first tested this on guinea pigs (who like humans they cannot produce their own ascorbic acid .. only 4 or 5 species on earth that do not), but then had aging professors try it, who were eventually able to resume normal exercise, after heart attacks, etc.




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    1. I am not so convinced that an all plant diet is the way to go, after reading some of the comments here from people who have blood tests, that came back worse after switching. Human bodies need protein to maintain our healthy muscle mass. Ravens and bears eat both plants and meat. What would happen to a bear if it stopped eating deer and fish and just relied on plants? I don’t eat red meat because it upsets my stomach (IBS). I think if you eat high quality meat and fish in small proportions only a few days a week, you would be fine. Eating a piece of filet mignon, grass fed, the size of the palm of your hand, broiled in the oven and consumed once a week, would be significantly healthier than eating a large chuck steak cooked on a bar-b-que in the back yard.

      I think switching entirely to a plant based diet is like going on pure oxygen 24/7. And if the oxygen bottle starts to run low and you don’t have a replacement nearby, you get worried and stressed out and panicked. That leads to more stress and high blood pressure…etc.

      Eating a piece of homemade apple pie, just 1 piece, made with organic apples and plain peppermint tea is significantly healthier than an ice cream cake that is 97% sugar and chemicals with a double espresso, from the corner ice cream shop. Drink mineral water with natural lemon, not soda. Be selective about the type and quality of the fish you eat. (once a week). You can’t go through life wearing an astronaut suit, washing your hands 40 times a day, and eating freeze-dried plant food. The whole point is to eat intelligently.




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      1. Jack: Consider that gorillas and elephants are essentially vegan. You do not need to eat meat for protein in order to grow big and strong. Whole plant foods have all the protein you need as a human.

        In fact, if you ate nothing but say even ice burg lettuce, you would get all the protein you need. (*Not* that eating only ice burg lettuce is a good idea. Just making a point about protein.) The following page contains a protein 101 article that is super easy to read and incredibly enlightening. Check it out: http://michaelbluejay.com/veg/protein.html




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  15. Hey GUYs
    Don’t forget Esselstyne and McDougall both include LOTS of oatmeal with its beta glucans to lower cholesterol. Also don’t be a bone head, hard exercise up to three day’s in advance raises lab tests for cholesterol. Ease up before those labs.




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  16. I went pretty well totally vegan for 6m, lipid ratios slightly worse and spa increasing. Then incorporated occasional meat and cheese and although TChol increased slightly, ratios improved and psa decreased for first time in 8 years. I am 10 yrs post prostatectomy.
    On the totally vegan for 6 months Hdl went significantly down.




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