Cardiovascular disease is no joke. When people hear this term, they hear heart attacks and stroke. When I hear it, I imagine all of the patients I’ve seen with all its manifestations, including erectile dysfunction, vascular claudication, angina, arterial thrombosis and embolism, as well as the classics, heart attacks and strokes. What many people fail to realize is that those who experience fatal heart attacks or strokes already had cardiovascular disease brewing inside of them for years, even decades. Autopsies done on young soldiers during World Wars already found signs of atherosclerosis. These are fatty deposits found in people’s arteries and can appear long before symptoms get more serious. We even have studies showing fatty streaks, atherosclerosis’ precursor, in young children. In some parts of the world, where they eat mostly whole plant foods, cardiovascular disease is unheard of. While in our modern and overfed societies, it’s one of our top killers.
Modern medical management is centered around symptom management. Some stabilize the atherosclerotic plaque, but don’t do a great job of reversing it. Other treatments are down-right invasive, with catheters, balloons and chests being sawed open so bypasses can be sown on. What if there was another way?
Firstly we can start by simply avoiding cardiovascular disease altogether. This isn’t some condition that is natural or that happens normally through aging. It is a food borne illness, caused by what we put into our mouths day in and day out. Some foods are highly inflammatory, and their impact on our blood vessels takes its toll over time. Anti-inflammatory diets, like a whole food plant-based diet, have been shown to not only reduce the risk of getting the disease, but in some cases, have even reversed it. This is no easy feat, since even our best medical treatments can’t accomplish this.