Preventing and Reversing Heart Disease and Protecting People from Cancer

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Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., received his A.B. from Yale University in 1956 and his M.D. from Western Reserve University School of Medicine in 1961. In 1956, he received a gold medal in rowing at the Olympic Games. In 1968, as an Army surgeon in Vietnam, he was awarded the Bronze Star.

He was trained as a surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic and has been associated with the Cleveland Clinic since 1961. He was President of the Staff and a member of the board of governors. He chairman of the Breast Cancer Task Force and Head of the Section of Thyroid and Parathyroid Disease.

In 2005 he became the first recipient of the Benjamin Spock Award for Compassion in Medicine and has received numerous honors and awards since.

The only way you are going to get lifestyle change is you have to show a patient respect. The only way I know to show patients respect is to give them my time.
                                                                                    Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn

His scientific publications number over 160. His pioneering research is summarized in his best selling Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. In July 2014 his study of 200 patients confirms an even larger group can be adherent to plant based nutrition and achieve the same significant arrest and reversal of disease.

The dream became “if we could ever get people to eat in a way to protect themselves from having heart disease, that would markedly diminish the likelihood of their having the common western cancers of breast, prostate, colon and pancreatic.”
                                                                                    Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn

Currently he directs the Cardiovascular Disease Prevention and Reversal Program at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Integrative and Preventive Medicine.

In our programs, patients learn that the reason they had their heart attack is because they, not anybody else, progressively destroyed their endothelium so that it would not make enough nitric oxide to protect themselves from making blockages of plaque. Then, we teach them how to eat so that they are empowered to annihilate this disease.
                                                                                    Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn

 In their conversation, Dr. Esselstyn and Dr. Hayward explore themes related to helping people make lifestyle change and the research that supports the importance of moving away from the illness-creating western diet and toward a whole food, plant-based way of eating.

Here are some of the themes that Dr. Esselstyn and Dr. Hayward explore during this conversation:

  • What is lifestyle work and what are its challenges?
  • What are the four steps of lifestyle change?
  • What does Dr. Esselstyn feel is the greatest gift that parents can give to children?
  • What is nutritional literacy?
  • What is the most powerful tool in the health and healing toolbox?
  • How did appearing in the film Forks Over Knives affect Dr. Esselstyn’s ability to influence more people?
  • Why are professional athletes becoming more devoted to a whole food, plant-based lifestyle?
  • What are the health effects of processed foods?
  • What is nitric oxide and how does it affect our health?
  • How does eating green leafy vegetables that have been boiled in water and anointed with vinegar restore our nitric oxide?

Research in the past 12 years show us that there is an alternate pathway for making nitric oxide.
                                                                        Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn

  • In Dr. Esselstyn’s life, what is the significance of the motto, Press On, Regardless?

Winning a gold medal in the 1956 Olympics showed me that, while the brain is important, nothing is as important as persistence.
                                                                                  Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn

  • What is Dr. Esselstyn’s experience on the nutrition committee of the American College of Cardiology?

If all cardiologists would come on board with plant-based nutrition and it was embraced by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, we would be a long way toward influencing the public.
                                                                                    Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn

Some related articles:
Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet Supplemented with Extra-Virgin Olive Oil or Nuts, Ramón Estruch, M.D., Ph.D., et al, New England Journal of Medicine, June 21, 2018
Clinical implications and debates on the ISCHEMIA trial, Yuichi Saito et al, Cardiology in Review, March 19, 2021
Mass General study shows the benefits of inhaled nitric oxide therapy for pregnant patients with severe and critical COVID-19, Press release, August 2020

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