In the July 2014 edition of the Journal of Family Practice is a landmark study. I am surprised this study was not on the front page of USA Today or the Wall Street Journal. If someone had found a cure for the Ebola virus, everyone would know immediately. Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn Jr. and colleagues from the Wellness Clinic of the Cleveland Clinic have demonstrated a way to often reverse and practically halt cardiovascular disease. This information must be known; however, it is not a profit maker.

In this study, 198 patients with known cardiovascular disease were put on a plant-based diet. Oil was also removed from the diet. The results were amazing!  Of those who adhered to the treatment, 93 percent had improvement in their anginal symptoms, 22 percent had documented disease reversal (suspected reversal was much higher, based on the anginal improvement), and 27 were able to avoid surgical interventions. There were nine adverse outcomes in the adherent group, all unrelated to the intervention, and four cases of disease progression among 177 patients. Thirteen patients of the 21 who did not participate had adverse events over the 3.7 year study average.  As a practicing cardiologist, I know of no medication or procedure that can make a similar claim. Also, the adherence rate was nearly 90 percent. This is unheard of. This type of treatment is not easy. Dr. Esselstyn’s team proves this is possible. It will take more time and a team approach, but the results speak loudly. This study must be known because it will save lives.

The author proposed numerous mechanisms for the improvement of the endothelium, which lines all the blood vessels. This includes the increased production of nitric oxide which dilates the blood vessels. If the blood vessels in the heart improve, blood vessels everywhere in the body should improve as well. This should help with those who are impotent, have poor memory, have high blood pressure, and the list goes on and on. Every part of the body needs a good blood supply with plenty of oxygen and nutrients. The study also listed other biochemical mechanisms improving the endothelium by this type of treatment. Remember: a pill just changes one chemical pathway and could mess up others, causing side effects. Eating correctly improves the chemistry of the entire body. This study must be known, though it will not be easy. Is anything worthwhile easy?

Just think, if we could nearly halt cardiovascular disease and help the many other conditions we acquire through a poor diet, how medical expenditures would be decreased. We would solve our health care dilemma. This study gives proof and shows it can be done. People can change.  If we love them and not judge them, giving them the time, this study shows scientifically what is possible. If we could take the savings and help those without active disease, think of the implications for society. This study must be known for its economic implications.

These types of treatments start from the bottom up, with you. Dr. Esselstyn’s study should be spread worldwide, giving hope to those with vascular disease anywhere in the body. This landmark study should just be the start of this discussion. We need a larger multi-centered study to confirm and continue the momentum, the sooner the better. I applaud Dr. Esselstyn for doing what is right, and I applaud the Journal of Family Medicine for publishing this study. Now it is time to get the word out and change the world. This study must be known!