Customer Reviews of Dr. Dean Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease: The Only System Scientifically Proven to Reverse Heart Disease Without Drugs or Surgery
Almost magic for lowering cholesterol!
I'm 25, male, very physically fit, and ate a better than average diet. I was therefore shocked to find out that my cholesterol levels were at very unhealthy levels. I only had my levels checked due to family history. My doctor told me that I would definitely need to go on medication to control my cholesterol. I refused to start medication-for-life at age 25, so she suggested trying Ornish's diet plan for one month, but warned that she didn't think I'd drop far enough, and that medication would likely be inevitable. So, I bought this book and set out to try the my new diet. At first, I must admit it was hard... I had to give up things I liked. But, within days I had this new source of energy I'd never had before. My workouts lasted longer, I ran farther and biked harder. I lost 12 pounds in one month, even though I was eating almost non-stop. I was already amazed and convinced I'd stay on the diet regardless of it's effects on cholesterol. Today, I went for my results after the first month. My total cholesterol had dropped from 339 to 228, my LDL had dropped from 266 to 163 and my triglyceride count had dropped from 129 to 99. My good cholesterol only dropped 2 points, from 47 to 45, keeping it perfectly within the healthy range. While I still need to come down a little - it's only been one month so far, and I've gone from "needs medication immediately" to "doesn't even need to consider medication." If your doctor wants to put you on cholesterol lowering medication - do yourself a favour and try this out first!
When my doctor suggested cholesterol lowering drugs last year, I decided that 34years old was too soon to start taking drugs. My cholesterol was 266 ( & that's after cutting out most red meat and pork fat -and no hamburgers). I was motivated to try to improve the health of my arteries and heart. I want to be around for my ten year old's retirement party!
I followed Dr Ornish's diet program for 6 month's then had my cholesterol levels tested again. Everything improved: cholesterol down to 210, triglycerides went from 389 to 217 and my ratio improved 24%. I never skipped a meal. I never went hungry. Secondary benefit: I lost 14 pounds and two inches around my waist without trying. I did not exercise enough so I am trying to increase my exercise now. I probably exercised an average of once a week.
By the way, Dr Ornish included a chart that demanded that you eat at least a certain amount of fat in your daily diet. I liked that the book is filled with studies by major US universities. This is not 600 pages of rambling prose but a how to book to reverse heart disease. If you want someone to hold your hand, call your Mom. If you want a "How to Reverse Your Heart Disease" manual, buy this book. ... Stop reading reviews and buy, read and try it.
We're using this program to REVERSE OTHER DISEASES !
We're using this book in our clinic as a text book for reversing many illnesses. Based on the premise "you are what you eat", we've witnessed our patients not only lose weight but also put many diseases such as diabetes, MS, diabetes, fibromyalgia, CFS, EDS, diverticulitis, arthritis, and some forms of chronic pain into remission. Many of our patients are following Ornish's plan and losing a "person". They like the new person they're discovering! One of our current patients started on the program Sept. 1999 (3.5 months ago) and weighed in last week 57 pounds less! With the help of this "text" people are learning to eat better and take control of their lives. Their weight and disorders are disapearing naturally. Thank you Dean Ornish from Cary, NC!
Scientific proof for reversing heart disease
While we appreciate that Mr. Bayan took the time to comment on our work, we are concerned that inaccurate statements he has made may discourage some people from making changes in diet and lifestyle that we have proven to be lifesaving.
For the past 24 years, the non-profit Preventive Medicine Research Institute and the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine have conducted research scientifically proving, for the first time, that the progression of even severe coronary heart disease can begin to reverse by making comprehensive changes in diet and lifestyle, without drugs or surgery. These studies have been published in leading peer-reviewed journals such as the Journal of the AMA, The Lancet, the American Journal of Cardiology, New England Journal of Medicine, Circulation, and others.
Mr. Bayan alleges that the diet we have proven to be so beneficial is "dangerous" for some patients because both HDL and LDL may decrease and triglycerides may increase. HDL and triglycerides are only potential risk factors for heart disease, they are not diseases. When we measured the actual severity of heart disease using state-of-the-art measures such as computer-analyzed coronary arteriography and cardiac PET scans, patients showed continued improvement over time, even in patients like Mr. Bayan whose HDL decreased or triglycerides increased. Also, cardiac events were 2.5 times lower in the group who followed the program compared to the control group who made more moderate changes in diet (30% fat, 200 mg cholesterol). [reference: JAMA. 1998;280:2001-2007.] Clearly, lowering HDL by changing diet did not harm these patients. LDL cholesterol decreased by an average of almost 40% during the first year, and none of the patients who adhered to the diet showed an increase in LDL.
As Dr. Connor wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine, "There are no data showing that the physiologic reduction of HDL cholesterol levels with a low-fat diet is detrimental. Diet-induced lowering of HDL cholesterol does not confer the same risk of atherosclerosis as do low HDL cholesterol levels in Americans consuming a high-fat diet." [ref: N Engl J Med. 1997;337(8).]
It is true that one can eat an unhealthful low-fat diet if it is high in simple carbohydrates such as sugar, white flour, alcohol, and many popular fat-free desserts. Such a diet may cause a shift to the more harmful pattern B LDL subclass that Mr. Bayan mentions.
But this is not the diet we recommend for reversing heart disease. Other studies have shown that a diet high in fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, and other complex carbohydrates (which is the diet we recommend) actually cause a shift AWAY from the pattern B LDL subclass to more beneficial patterns [ref: Kenney JJ, et al. Very-low-fat diets do not necessarily promote small, dense LDL particles. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 1999;70(3):423-5.]
Patients whose triglycerides increase are counseled to be even more mindful in reducing their intake of simple carbohydrates and increasing their exercise. Also, for many years we have recommended that patients take 3 grams/day of fish oil, which also helps to lower triglycerides. In the Multicenter Lifestyle Demonstration Project, we found that triglyceride levels, which initially increased slightly but not significantly, then fell significantly in years two and three. [ref: American Journal of Cardiology. 1998;82:72T-76T.] Almost 80% of people who were eligible for bypass surgery or angioplasty were able to safely avoid it by making these diet and lifestyle changes instead.
We respect the work of Dr. Robert Superko and often refer patients to his lipid laboratory for testing. Again, we have found that patients with small dense LDL also show reversal of heart disease on the program recommend.
The program that we recommend includes a reversal diet for those with heart disease and the prevention diet for others. The prevention diet may be higher in fat and cholesterol than the reversal diet and is tailored to the needs of the individual rather than offering one diet for everyone. The prevention diet may include some oils, fish and other animal products for some people.
Switching from saturated fats to monosaturated fats is better, but for reversing heart disease or lowering cholesterol it is better to avoid all oils other than fish oils. Olive oil is 100% total fat and 14% saturated fat. The more olive oil you consume, the more saturated fat you consume, the higher your plasma cholesterol. The studies showing that olive oil lowers cholesterol are only when substituted in equal amounts for butter or oils that are higher in saturated fat. Also, olive oil has almost none of the beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.
The bottom line is this: patients in our studies with severe heart disease reported a 91% reduction in angina (chest pain) within one month, and most became pain-free. They not only felt better, they were better. We measured improved blood flow within one month as measured by thallium scans and radionuclide ventriculograms, reversal of coronary artery blockages (atherosclerosis) within one year, even more reversal after five years, and 2.5 times fewer cardiac events (e.g., heart attacks). It works.
Before starting this program, I had Stage 1 hypertension, cholesterol of 288, and was 50 pounds overweight. I also had a cardiac scan and got a calcium score of 27. Since I am only 38 years old, and have a strong family history of early heart disease, I was a bit overwhelmed with the direction of my health. The Cardiologist suggested the Ornish program. Within 6 months, I lost 54 pounds, my cholesterol is down to 119, my BP averages 109/70, and my cholesterol/HDL ratio is now 3.7. I look better, and feel better too. The "diet" does take some adjustment, but not as much as I thought. I also thought I'd never be able to eat out, but that didn't happen either. I still eat out 3X/week, but just feel better that I am making smart choices. While no "diet" is 100%, and while some things others have said in their reviews tend to concern me, no other program has ever helped me get my BP, cholesterol and weight under control as well as Ornish. They can say what they want, but I know I am healthier and will be less likely to "go" from a heart attack at 42 like my father.