Heart Disease, a Paper Tiger that Can Be Defeated

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Worldwide renown physician says that heart disease can be reversed adopting a plant-based diet 

By Roberto Hugo Gonzalez

As originally published by Mega Doctor News in its newsprint edition March 2019.

Dr. Esselstyn telling his plan to fight heart disease.
Dr. Esselstyn telling his plan to fight heart disease.

Recently, the Rio Grande Valley was visited by Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr. who says that it is possible to prevent and reverse heart disease. Dr. Esselstyn was a guest speaker at a DHR Health conference. The invitation was made by Amir Esmaeili, PT, DPT, C/NDT, FAAOMPT, a Doctor of Physical Therapy. 

This conference took place at the Therapy Institute at the main clinic building. The topic was so interesting that the space was packed with approximately 200 people. 


Imagine, a conference about reversing heart disease and given by a renowned physician; it was difficult to miss it. Dr. Esselstyn wrote a 306-page book called “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease;” in it, you’ll find a complete explanation of his findings. He dedicated this book to the 23 men and one woman who came to him more than two decades ago in a sorry state of their lives, with a broken spirit, poor health, and no hope. 

During the conference, he said it clearly: a plant-based diet is the key to preventing, reversing, and even abolishing heart disease. If one takes into consideration that heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States for men and women, it is definitely inviting to know more about the solution. 

But first, let’s find out more about Dr. Esselstyn. He is a former internationally known surgeon, researcher, and clinician trained at the Cleveland Clinic. Twenty-three years ago, while serving as chairman of the Cleveland Clinic’s Breast Cancer Task Force, general surgeon Dr. Esselstyn grew disappointed in the way he and his colleagues were treating cancer and heart disease. 

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He said relying on pills and procedures alone, despite their side effects and risks, he and his peers were doing “nothing to prevent disease in the next unsuspecting victim.” For him, it was frustrating, given that research studies had already suggested an obvious culprit, the fatty American diet was responsible for heart disease and many Western cancers.

Amir Esmaeili, PT, DPT, C/NDT, FAAOMPT
Amir Esmaeili, PT, DPT, C/NDT, FAAOMPT

When Dr. Esmaeili introduced Dr. Esselstyn, he shared just a brief story of how he came to know about him. “I found Dr. Esselstyn’s work about a year after I graduated from grad school.” He said, “I was back in the Valley and eating a less than stellar diet, not taking care of myself, and suffering from a newly diagnosed heart arrhythmia.” He continued, “I was having a tough time and consuming tons of energy drinks just to make it through the day.” He decided to adopt the plant-base-diet, the same diet Dr. Esselstyn talks about, and since then he is fine. 

Thanks to Dr. Esmaeili’s experience, Dr. Esselstyn, a scientist, one who travels all over the world came for the first time to the Edinburg/McAllen area to share lifesaving experiences. 

What Dr. Esselstyn is promoting is nothing new, Hippocrates of Kos, the Father of Western Medicine had already carved the famous quote “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. Unfortunately, people do not pay attention, that includes me. Many times, we put aside fruits and vegetables and go for fried foods, that in the long run affects our health. 

Dr. Dimple Desai and Dr. Dr. Esselstyn
Dr. Dimple Desai and Dr. Dr. Esselstyn

Locally, we have Dr. Dimple Desai, the medical director of DHR Health Wellness Institute that has been open since August of 2018. She also promotes fruits and veggies as a change in diet to live healthier. So, in a way, good health is at our fingertips. So, residents of this area, why don’t we make the change?

Could it be that we need to be at a sorry state, with a broken spirit and no hope to accept the change? Those 23 men and one woman that Dr. Esselstyn talks about, were part of a trial cure he believed in.

In his book, he says that almost all the men had lost their sexual potency; as Dr. Esselstyn said, “They had trouble raising the flag.” They had angina chest pains and couldn’t even walk the length of a simple room before feeling pain. They had no option, if they wanted to live, this was the only chance they had. But they needed to believe in it because the change in their diet was going to be radical. 

Dr. Esselstyn said this group had to abandon a diet of deep-fried fast foods, thick steaks, and rich dairy products, a popular diet that two-thirds of the world live with. There was no other option, most of them had been told by their physicians that there was nothing else that could be done. That is essentially a death sentence. 

Dr. Carlos Cardenas, Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr. and Dr. Manish Singh.
Dr. Carlos Cardenas, Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr. and Dr. Manish Singh.

So, if you were in their shoes, would you accept this radical offer and change your diet? They did!

The end of the story is that almost all of the people that participated in this trial, those with no hope and broken spirits, restored their health. Dr. Esselstyn reported that their arterial diseases decreased. 

The trial cure took place in 1985. He said that 20 years after, they became living proof that it is possible for you and anyone else who makes a commitment to a healthier lifestyle can become heart-attack proof.

As Dr. Esselstyn continued with his conference, people in the audience were quiet and attentive to what he was saying. Some came in wheelchairs, others, it was obvious, they were in a severe state of heart disease, some of them with the book he had written to save lives. 

His conference was comprehensive, he explained at great lengths how he reversed coronary disease in his patients; he projected coronary angiograms showing the before and after results. In some cases, with a 32-month treatment of a plant-based diet, his patients showed results without cholesterol-lowering medication.

He brought dramatic photos of abrupt plaque ruptures, with clot formation and blockage that accounts for almost 88% of heart attacks.  

There is a saying that a “picture is worth a thousand words,” well, Dr. Esselstyn brought a lot of them. For example, in this figure: the top bracketed area in a cardiac PET scan shows a lack of blood flow. The bottom PET scan shows that after only 3 weeks of intense plant-based nutrition, there is profound flow restoration. 

Now, look at these two photos, the first one is a normal brain Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Now, look at the second photo which is an abnormal brain MRI. The many small and medium-size white, some-what circular areas represent multiple strokes.

These two photos are spectacular, as he explained, “I counted 90 of those strokes on the abnormal. Now, on the first MRI, you see a normal brain filled out all the way out to the skull.”

Dr. Esselstyn told the story of his friend. “This is my great friend and colleague Joe Crowe, and Joe replaced me as Chairman of the Breast Cancer Task Force at the Cleveland Clinic.” He said, “In 1996, he had no hypertension, no strong family history of heart disease, was not overweight or diabetic and did not have high blood pressure or bad cholesterol count.” He continued, “He was 44 years old, but in short, Dr. Crowe was not the usual candidate for a heart attack, but he was struck, and it was hard.”

Dr. Joe P. Crowe
Dr. Joe P. Crowe

After the heart attack, the tests showed that the entire lower third of his left anterior descending coronary artery, which is the one nicknamed “the widow-maker”- was significantly diseased. He also said that Dr. Crowe’s condition was not apt for a bypass, angioplasty or stents.

According to Dr. Esselstyn, Dr. Crowe was hopeless and depressed. He was young and married with three children. Two weeks after his heart attack, Dr. Crowe and his wife heard about Dr. Esselstyn’s nutrition program, and both got the idea immediately. With no hope, suddenly there was a light at the end of the tunnel.  

After 27 months of a rigorous plant-based diet, Dr. Crowe shared the good news of his health condition, what was once lethal, was no longer there. He said, “My follow up angiogram was normal.”

Dr. Esselstyn has been associated with the Cleveland Clinic since 1968. During that time, he has served as President of the Staff and as a member of the Board of Governors. He chaired the Clinic’s Breast Cancer Task Force and headed its Section of Thyroid and Parathyroid Surgery. He is a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology.

Dr. Esselstyn and his wife, Ann Crile Esselstyn, have followed a plant-based diet since 1984. 

Read the article “The Nutritional Reversal of Cardiovascular Disease – Fact or Fiction? Three Case Reports” by Caldwell Esselstyn and Mladen Golubic.

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