Angina Reduced by 90% with Lifestyle Changes Alone

Dr. Dean Ornish published a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association back in 1998 that showed that people with angina can reduce their angina paid by 90% just by making prudent lifestyle changes.

Forty-eight patients with moderate to severe coronary heart disease were randomized to an intensive lifestyle change group or to a usual-care control group, and 35 completed the 5-year follow-up quantitative coronary arteriography.

Experimental group patients were prescribed an intensive lifestyle program that included a 10%-fat vegetarian diet, moderate aerobic exercise, stress management training, smoking cessation, and group psychosocial support. Patients were encouraged to avoid simple sugars and to emphasize the intake of complex carbohydrates and other whole foods. The experimental patients were NOT put on statin drugs.

Control group patients were asked to follow the advice of their personal physicians regarding lifestyle changes. The control group patients were put on statin drugs.

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After 1 year, the experimental group participants had a 37.2% reduction in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels and a 91% reduction in the frequency of anginal episodes. Average percent diameter stenosis regressed from 40.0% at baseline to 37.8% 1 year later, a change that was correlated with the degree of lifestyle change.

In contrast, patients in the usual-care control group made more moderate changes in lifestyle, reduced LDL cholesterol levels by 6%, and had a 165% increase in the frequency of reported anginal episodes. Average percent diameter stenosis progressed from 42.7% to 46.1%.

Given these encouraging findings, the study was extended for an additional 4 years to determine (1) the feasibility of patients sustaining intensive changes in diet and lifestyle for a much longer time, and (2) the effects of these changes on risk factors, coronary atherosclerosis, myocardial perfusion, and cardiac events after 4 additional years.

More regression of coronary atherosclerosis occurred after 5 years than after 1 year in the experimental group. In contrast, in the control group, coronary atherosclerosis continued to progress and more than twice as many cardiac events occurred.

While I appreciate Dr. Ornish’s research, he doesn’t seem to appreciate that adding the use of supplements to these lifestyle changes can accelerate these healthy results and can work well even for those who are not able to stick to such long-term, intensive lifestyle changes.

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