I was only a kid when doctors sent my grandmother home in a wheelchair to die at age 65. Diagnosed with end-stage heart disease, she had already had so many bypass operations the surgeons essentially ran out of plumbing—the scarring from each open-heart surgery had made the next more difficult until they finally ran out of options. Confined to a wheelchair with crushing chest pain, her doctors told her there was nothing else they could do.
I think what sparks many kids to want to become doctors when they grow up is watching a beloved relative become ill or even die. For me, it was watching my grandma get better.
Soon after she was discharged, a segment aired on 60 Minutes about Nathan Pritikin. He had been gaining a reputation for reversing terminal heart disease and had just opened a new center—a live-in program where everyone was placed on a plant-based diet and then started on a graded exercise regimen. My grandmother somehow made the trek to become one of its first patients. They wheeled her in, and she walked out.
Later featured in Pritikin’s biography Pritikin: The Man Who Healed America’s Heart, she was described as one of the “death’s door people”:
“Frances Greger…arrived in Santa Barbara at one of Pritikin’s early sessions in a wheelchair. Mrs. Greger had heart disease, angina, and claudication; her condition was so bad she could no longer walk without great pain in her chest and legs. Within three weeks, though, she was not only out of her wheelchair but was walking ten miles a day.”
At that time, reversing heart disease didn’t even seem possible. Drugs were given to try to slow the progression, and surgery was performed to circumvent clogged arteries to try to relieve symptoms (literally bypassing the problem), but the disease was expected to worsen until you died. Today, we know that as soon as we stop eating an artery-clogging diet, our bodies may start healing themselves, in many cases opening up arteries without drugs or surgery.
By the time I became a doctor, giants like Dean Ornish, M.D., had already proven beyond a shadow of a doubt what Pritikin had shown to be true. Using the latest high-tech advances—cardiac PET scans, quantitative coronary arteriography, and radionuclide ventriculography—Dr. Ornish and his colleagues showed that heart disease, our leading killer, may be reversed with the lowest-tech approach—diet and lifestyle.
The information on this page has been compiled from Dr. Greger’s research. Sources for each video listed can be found by going to the video’s page and clicking on the Sources Cited tab. References may also be found at the back of his books.
Image Credit: Pixabay. This image has been modified.
Popular Videos for Heart Disease
All Videos for Heart Disease
Hospitals with 100 Percent Plant-Based Menus
The American Medical Association has passed a resolution encouraging healthy plant-based food options be available in hospitals.
Lifestyle and Disease Prevention: Your DNA Is Not Your Destiny
Treating the underlying cause of chronic lifestyle diseases.
How Low Should You Go for Ideal Cholesterol Levels?
Having a so-called normal cholesterol in a society where it’s normal to drop dead of a heart attack isn’t necessarily a good thing.
How Much Longer Do You Live on Statins?
What are the pros and cons of relative risk versus absolute risk versus number-needed-to-treat versus average postponement of death taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs?
The True Benefits vs. Side Effects of Statins
A Mayo Clinic visualization tool can help you decide if cholesterol-lowering statin drugs are right for you.
Are Doctors Misleading Patients About Statin Risks and Benefits?
What is the dirty little secret of drugs for lifestyle diseases? If patients knew the truth of how little these drugs actually worked, almost no one would agree to take them.
Who Should Take Statins?
How can you calculate your own personal heart disease risk and use it to determine if you should start on a cholesterol-lowering statin drug?
The Scientific Consensus on a Healthy Diet
The leading risk factor for death in the United States is the American diet.
The Effects of Cleaning Products and Air Fresheners on Lung Function
There is a reason the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention prohibits not only smoking, but also scented or fragranced products in its buildings.
How to Help Control Cancer Metastasis with Diet
Randomized controlled trials show lowering saturated fat intake can lead to improved breast cancer survival.
The Best Diet for Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism
Is the apparent protection of plant-based diets for thyroid health due to the exclusion of animal foods, the benefits of plant foods, or both?
How Common Are Muscle Side Effects from Statins?
Why is the incidence of side effects from statins so low in clinical trials but appear to be so high out in the real world?