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‘No more heart attacks’

Kilkenny patient wants Esselstyn treatment plan promoted to all heart disease patients

Dear Editor,
The Irish Heart Foundation tells us that 10,000 people die each year from cardiovascular disease — mainly stroke and heart attacks — caused by a build-up of fatty deposits in our arteries. They tell those of us already diagnosed with the disease that standard treatment is an effective way of preventing a heart attack or stroke.

While lifestyle changes such as daily exercise and not smoking are certainly necessary, the drugs and a few dietary changes that make up standard treatment do not halt or reverse the disease. As a result, thousands of patients require invasive procedures such as stenting and bypass surgery, while many others suffer heart attacks, strokes and early death.

What the Irish Heart Foundation does not tell us is that there is a better way.

In the US, Dr Dean Ornish and Dr Caldwell Esselstyn Jr. have been successfully using a plant-based, no oil diet, along with lifestyle interventions to halt the progression of cardiovascular disease, reverse it in many cases, prevent heart attacks and strokes, relieve angina, normalise blood pressure and so on.

Furthermore, this approach has no side-effects and improves the patient’s overall health. Their methods have been scientifically proven and the results published in medical journals.

For example, a study published in The Journal of Family Practice in 2014 led by Dr Esselstyn (J Fam Pract. 2014 July;63(7):356-364,364a,364b, see ), which included 198 people with documented cardiovascular disease, found that 177 were able to stick to a plant-based, no oil diet, along with a few lifestyle changes for an average of almost four years. During that time, only one person had an event (a stroke) that was deemed a recurrence of the disease. In contrast, 13 of the 21 people who did not stick to the diet experienced a cardiovascular event.

This life-saving treatment has been used for decades by Dr Esselstyn, Dr Ornish and also by Dr John McDougal, Dr Joel Fuhrman, Dr Neil Bernard and others.

As someone living with heart disease, I am grateful for the life-saving treatment cardiologists provide in emergency situations. However, when it comes to the day-to-day management of the disease I believe they owe patients an explanation as to why they continue to recommend standard treatment while the clinically proven treatment plan of Dr Esselstyn may be a far better option for patients.

I challenge them to either produce evidence discrediting the findings of Dr Esselstyn or start promoting the Esselstyn treatment plan to all heart disease patients as a matter of urgency.

Since adopting the Esselstyn plan, I feel far less anxious about getting a heart attack or stroke. I take no statins or aspirin, my total cholesterol is 3.2, my blood pressure (which previously landed me in the emergency department twice) has been excellent and I expect to be off medication within weeks. I have shed any excess fat I had and I feel great.

Tommy Roche,
Maudlin Street, Kilkenny.



  1. People need to have a blood test for high Lipoprotein(a) cholesterol/lipid to get an accurate prediction of their risk of heart disease and stroke. Diet and exercise have little to no impact on this lipid and it impacts 1 in 5 people globally. Diet will help with other risk factors but Lp(a) is not one.

    • The failure of the Irish Cardiac Society and the Irish Heart Foundation to address the points raised in this letter speaks volumes.

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