If someone had to ask you what the number one cause of death in New Zealand is, or perhaps the world, your first thought may be cancer. While cancer does unfortunately take too many of our loved ones away, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in New Zealand. It also ranks as the number one cause of death in the world, according to the Heart Foundation in New Zealand.
Around 1 in 20 adults are diagnosed with heart disease which is around 169,000 New Zealand adults, and every 90 minutes a New Zealander dies from heart disease. If you think women are immune you would also be wrong, globally it ranks as the number one killer in women.
The sad thing is many of these deaths are premature, preventable and in some cases, according to Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn reversible, by simply adopting a strict wholefood plant-based diet.
A leading pioneer in the wholefood plant-based movement Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn graduated from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in 1961. By 1984 he had lowered his own cholesterol levels, and in 1985 started a study which included 22 patients with severe coronary artery disease. Of the 22 participants, 5 dropped out within 2 years, and 17 maintained the diet, 11 of whom completed the study. All 11 of these participants reduced their cholesterol level from a mean baseline of 246 mg/dL (6.36 mmol/L) to below 150mg/dL (3.88 mmol/L).
One of Dr Esselstyn's most famous patients was President Bill Clinton. President Clinton had a love affair with fast food and dairy rich food. In 2004 he elected to have a quadruple heart by-pass. Six months after the by-pass he had an additional procedure to eliminate scar tissue and fluid build up. In 2010, when the by-pass failed to work properly, two stents were added to help relieve the situation. At this point President Clinton looked for another way to return to reasonable health. His search led him to Dr. Esselstyn's book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease.
President Clinton has realised, as thousands of others with extreme heart disease, that surgery does not always cure the problem. These procedures although life saving are at best a temporary fix, unless the underlying problem is not addressed which many believe is diet. Since President Clinton started following a wholefood plant-based lifestyle he has lost 10 kgs and plans to completely reverse his heart disease through healthy food.
Of course nothing is 100% in this life. Some may still need medication, but based on the many studies out there and in particular Dr Esselstyn's valuable contribution in this area, a wholefood plant-based diet could be an effective way to beat this silent killer.
The health and nutritional information in this website is for educational purposes only. You should contact a healthcare professional before starting any changes of diet or eliminating any medication.
 Ministry of Health (2015) Mortality and Demographic data 2012. Wellington: Ministry of Health
 Ministry of Health (2015) NZ Health Survey: Annual update of key results 2014-2015. Wellington: Ministry of Health
 Ministry of Health (2009) Implementing the ABC approch for Smoking Cessation. Framework and Work Programme. Wellington: Ministry of Health
 World Health Organisation (2013) Women’s health fact sheet N334: World Health Organisation
 Oestreicher Stock, E., Redberg, R. (2012) Cardiovascular disease in Women. Curr Probl Cardiol,37(11), 45-526