Study Type: Member Story
Patient Sex: Female
Patient Ethnicity: White
Patient Age: 60
Published Date: 09/07/2018
Conditions: Heart Disease
Therapies: Functional Medicine, Diet Therapy
I've been so inspired by the success stories that members have shared with this group and they have really helped to keep me motivated. I now have a story to share of my own. I was diagnosed with heart failure last November, soon after my 60th birthday. Actually, this was detected on an echo-cardiogram that was done in Dec. 2015, but was accidentally overlooked for almost 2 years (long story). I have had some electrical issues with my heart for over 20 years and the cardiologists that I have seen over the years all feel certain that this was caused by the Lyme infection that I've been dealing with for 50+ years. Anyway, my husband and I had adopted a vegetarian diet in November of 2015 for health and other ethical and environmental reasons. He had been diagnosed with coronary artery disease and had 2 stents placed in February of 2016. We were still eating some dairy and eggs, but after I got this news last November we decided to eliminate all animal products and eat only food made from plants. We started this on 10/1. I was also able to considerably increase my exercise, since the rehab on my 2 torn hip tendons had worked wonders and I was now able to walk normally again.
Fast forward to last Thursday when I got very good news from my cardiologist. Apparently I've been able to reverse my diagnosis of heart failure! My left ventricle ejection fraction had been at 35% in Dec 2015. When a heart is functioning normally the LVEF is 55 - 70%. The most recent echo-cardiogram showed the LVEF at 56%! I am not taking any prescription drugs, but do take magnesium and vitamin D, which are both good for heart function. That's it, though. The cardiologist was stunned by the improvement made in this short time. She would still like for me to start taking a drug, but I'm going to hold off unless diet and exercise no longer work. Obviously, this needs to be a lifetime commitment to maintain these results, but I’m pretty pumped by the good news.
I cut out all animal products, started a walking regimen, and lost weight. I take magnesium oxide (500mg/daily) and vitamin D (5000 IU/Daily). My left ventricular ejection fraction was down to 35% and it’s now up to 56%. The cardiologist was recommending that I have a pacemaker and defibrillator implanted in October of last year, but I talked her into giving me 6 months. All of my doctors feel that this issue was caused mostly by the Lyme disease that I’ve had most all of my life (I’m 60). The Lyme disease didn’t get diagnosed until 2005, though, and by then it was too late to do much about it. The focus now is just on supporting my immune system as much as possible, which a plant based diet will do.
I had my 6 month checkup today with my primary care doc. She was so excited and pleased with my progress and improvement. She couldn't believe my test results and was amazed that I have reversed my heart failure diagnosis in 6 months without any prescription medication! She just kept saying "wow!" and commenting on what a difference the plant based diet (and exercise) has made. When we were saying good-bye, she said that if I ever wanted to give a talk to her patients about the changes I've made and what I've been doing to let her know!
What I eat now:
We eat as much whole food as possible, but we do occasionally eat vegan convenience foods. Our meals are simple - just raw or cooked veggies, fresh fruit, nuts (walnuts, almonds, pistachios, peanuts), flax meal, rice (brown, black, wild), quinoa, barley, beans and lentils for the most part. I use maple syrup and agave for sweeteners, and we use a lot of different vinegars, spices, and sauces like tamari, siricha, etc. for flavorings. I rarely use any oil, but if I do it's sesame oil. We get our fats from avocados, olives and nuts I get a lot of recipes from friends. If you haven't seen it yet, i would suggest the documentaries 'Forks over Knives' and 'Food Inc' for good motivation. Forks over Knives website has a lot of recipes on it, too. Hope this helps!
My Breakfast: Barley cooked with 1/2 orange juice and 1/2 water and a cinnamon stick. I add blueberries and walnuts before eating. It’s good chilled, too!
None of my docs or cardiologists have ever recommended plant based eating. My hubby’s cardiologist just recently started a plant based diet, and he asked my husband for pointers! He said that he’s at a loss for figuring out what to eat! That’s so sad that medical community doesn’t know more about this. We live in the Kansas City area where there are BBQ joints on every corner and there is an epidemic of obesity.