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August 25th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

Gupta: Becoming heart attack proof

Editor's note: Watch Dr. Sanjay Gupta Reports: The Last Heart Attack at 8p and 11p ET on Saturday, September 3rd.

While working on “The Last Heart Attack,” I had a chance to interview some extraordinary people around the country. Patients struggling with heart disease provided lessons that can sometimes be taught only after being smacked in the face with their own mortality. For example, I have never seen former President Clinton so candid. He was convinced he was going to die back in 2004, after feeling chest tightness during a flight back to New York on a small plane.

I interviewed cardiologists who believe we are so darn close to virtually eliminating heart disease. And, the truth is, it doesn’t involve spending any more money, investing in any more research or creating anymore tests. Rather, it will take a strict implementation of what we already know about diet and nutrition. It will also take brave champions to navigate through the clutter of confusing counsel, special interests and shoddy science.

One day, I had a chance to speak to a couple of those champions candidly while waiting for a shoot to begin - Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and  T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D.  I had read Campbell’s book, "The China Study," years ago and remember how audacious he was in telling readers that most of what they believed about food and its relationship to health and disease was plain wrong. His findings changed the way people all over the world eat, including me.

And, I will admit, while I had trained my whole life to treat disease after it developed, I wasn’t medically trained in nutrition to be able to help prevent some of these diseases in the first place. Most of what I have learned has been on my own, since leaving medical school, and I think that is true for many doctors of my generation.

Simply put, Campbell’s research team found people who ate the most animal-based foods also had the most chronic disease. As important, people who ate the most plant-based foods were the healthiest. Campbell went on to describe the specific connections between nutrition and heart disease, diabetes and cancer. He also wrote of the ability to use nutrition to reverse these conditions – something that can start at almost any age.

Esselstyn took it a step further. “Sanjay, we want to make you heart attack proof.” Pretty audacious, I thought, but I couldn’t help but be engaged by this Cleveland Clinic surgeon, who was now devoting his life to preventing the diseases he made a living treating.“We are never going to end the epidemic of heart disease with stents, bypasses and medications,” he told me. That was music to my ears, because I didn’t want any of those things. Of course, it would involve essentially eliminating meat, dairy, eggs and oil – even olive oil. “Nothing with a mother, and nothing with a face,” the good doctor added.

Honestly, over the years, I have practiced the adage “eat to live,” not “live to eat.” Still, I knew it was going to be tough to carry out what he was asking. I started with a practical question for him. He was on the road traveling, and I was curious what he ate. “Thai food is always a good bet,” he told me. Sharon Kintz, who is a 66-year-old heart patient, joined me in Times Square to prove she could find a meal that satisfied her vegan requirements. Even former President Clinton says he is a vegan nowadays, and doesn’t at all miss the fast food for which he was once famous.

Virtually eliminating heart disease – it can be done, and truth is, we have known for a very long time how to do it. People have said to me as I was preparing this documentary – “Sanjay, you are advocating a radical change to the way we eat.” Perhaps, but if you really think about it, the way we eat now is in fact more radical. And when we look back on this time, a couple of hundred years from now, I guarantee you that our diet of today will be considered one of the most radical in history.

If we collectively ever want to get to the point where we have “The Last Heart Attack,” a good start would be to stop ignoring what we already know to be true.


soundoff (346 Responses)
  1. Lynn

    CNN bad...why you no post comment?

    August 26, 2011 at 01:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • pepsee

      Me Turgeon, you Jane...

      August 28, 2011 at 23:10 | Report abuse |
  2. Mike

    Dr.Campbell's China Study thoroughly debunked:

    http://rawfoodsos.com/2010/08/06/final-china-study-response-html/

    August 26, 2011 at 02:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Leda Beth

      yeah, right, an English major. That analysis is "slapped down" here: http://www.vegsource.com/news/2010/07/china-study-author-colin-campbell-slaps-down-critic-denise-minger.html

      August 26, 2011 at 20:48 | Report abuse |
    • Kelly

      Right. She's 23 and doesn't even have a college degree.
      Dr. Mike, you need to get over it. Meat is unhealthy, honey.

      August 28, 2011 at 23:09 | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      No way. Read "Response to Points Raised by Campbell" section 3, which addresses that precise response from Campbell:

      http://rawfoodsos.com/2010/08/06/final-china-study-response-html/

      It counters Campbell extremely effectively.

      August 28, 2011 at 23:52 | Report abuse |
  3. Observer

    Yes, vegan and screwing college interns have some interesting affect on the heart. It also helps that your wife is busy working and is out of the house 98% of time.

    August 26, 2011 at 05:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • "Don'tWorrtBeHappy"

      It might help if you weren't so negative... stay on the sujbect!

      August 28, 2011 at 23:15 | Report abuse |
    • dzerres

      My, aren't we being a bit sanctimonious? You must be one of those self-loathing Republicans who condemns everyone else for stuff you are doing yourself.

      August 28, 2011 at 23:56 | Report abuse |
  4. Jen Baker

    I was looking forward to seeing this, but living on the east coast of NC, I'm sure I won't have power when this is on. Please plan a repeat showing for those of us who can't watch it due to Irene.

    August 26, 2011 at 05:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ron Michaels

      After 2 false starts on the programming of the edition of "Sanjay Gupta Reports" – I missed it along with all of the friends of mine that wanted to see it.
      The coverage of the hurricane was absurd – pure TV sensationalism /masturbation.
      Intelligent programming like his should preempt the former.
      I certainly hope they rebroadcast it. It is far more important than the hurricane.

      August 28, 2011 at 22:41 | Report abuse |
    • Allen

      I agree, this is insane. This is more important than hurricane coverage.

      August 29, 2011 at 01:38 | Report abuse |
  5. Gary

    Sanjay, thanks for getting this out. You are probably saving more people with this than all the heart surgeons in the country.

    August 26, 2011 at 07:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • John K

      Nice article! Found a great description of the Esselstyn diet at WannaBuddy.blogspot.com. Well worth checking out.

      August 26, 2011 at 12:44 | Report abuse |
    • Ali

      Dr. Gupta, use your power to change the laws in this country regarding viable healh care for all, as it is a basic human right...Then you could possibly reach more people, you are preaching to the rich, wake up,

      August 28, 2011 at 21:26 | Report abuse |
    • Ali

      And how many Americans, given the ecomony and lack of benefits, can afford what he speaks? His report, altho intellectually fantastic, leaves out everyone that truly wants to make their lives better...it is utterly disappointing, and makes those that cant afford these procedures feel hopeless,

      August 28, 2011 at 21:40 | Report abuse |
    • TC

      @Ali: He's offering a preventative health option that costs less than eating the way they have been, and requires no health insurance. You don't need tests to decide to eat better. In fact, now knowing the cost of heart procedures, it makes me sick that as a vegan I'm paying for health insurance that pays for these things I won't be needing. There's a checkbox for smoking but not for eating animal products. 😦

      August 29, 2011 at 21:22 | Report abuse |
  6. Robinowitz

    Im sure there are probably those who might do well being vegetarian, though I've never met any, and I've got about 6 vegetarians in my family. I've got a cousin who has a very controlled diet of only organic veggies, fruits, grains and dairy. She's always sick with something, is skinny-fat and has terrible circles under her eyes. I've heard stories of vegetarians who feel great eating that way but that doesn't mean it's the ideal diet for everyone. And vegan for everyone? Are you kidding? Enjoying animal fat and meat in the absence of excessive carbs has done nothing but improve my heart health and blood lipids over the years. Even if it was proven that eating no animal products would make me live to 100 (which has never been proven because it's not a fact) I'd still prefer to eat brain-essential animal fats and muscle-building animal proteins. There is a reason there are no long-term vegan cultures out there–babies all start out on a diet of full fat breast milk to build their brains and we've got these big human brains because of that. There are cultures that don't eat meat for religious reasons, but that's very different than assuming most early cultures didn't know and appreciate the nutritional value of consuming animal products whenever they could find them. 

    I've really no issue with people eating the diet they prefer–whatever makes you feel strong and healthy, right? I take issue with the notion that a diet devoid of essential fats and proper proteins and full of lectin and phytate-filled grain is really ideal for everyone. 

    August 26, 2011 at 09:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • twotired

      Well, you haven't met us! We have such a variety and abundance of good meals in our life that we have never eaten so well. We feed our friends, and they can't believe it's vegan. We eat the way that benefits us and do not try to convert anyone.

      August 26, 2011 at 10:34 | Report abuse |
    • Marie

      Cows, as do human babies, start out on an all milk diet. As do horses, deer, buffalo, and more. What exactly does that have to do with anything?

      August 26, 2011 at 17:59 | Report abuse |
    • Laura Aaron

      And this from a Jew who , according to Torah, should do no harm to their body, animals or our earth! Besides being a diet that DOES provide everything human beings require, except grease, blood, antibiotic residues, cortisol, the fear hormone filled in the animals as they tremble in horror as they,like Jews, are forced to their deaths in concentration camps called slaughterhouses...
      Don't you know that there is a connection between our backwards, dark age treatment of animals ( another profound symptom of spiritual heart disease) and what humans have forced, inflicted upon other humans over centuries, including what Nazi's did to Jews?
      Blinded by religious complacency. Read Eternal Treblinka, Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust, by Charles Patterson.
      Read The Dreaded Comparison, by Marjorie Speigel. Look at meatvideo.com or go to JVNA.com and click on , "If This Is Kosher."
      Jews in my family ALL died prematurely from that diet you claim we need. They had their chests cracked, and lived on multiple meds that had horrific side effects.
      Don't you know our health has been hijacked by the corporate drug companies that influence research, university studies, and most of the info we hear these days? Just for the fact that the meat and dairy industry are lying and torturing sentient beings, Jews should NOT support them .It's a sick industry that makes us sick and does ONLY HARM. And with Africa facing millions of people starving, we have no problem feeding 80 BILLION farmed animals the lions share of ag crops grown and shipped worldwide. UGH! A stinking rotten abusive business that symbolizes the culture of death.
      Have a heart, a healthy heart....GO VEGAN...FOR LIFE! SHALOM.

      August 27, 2011 at 07:42 | Report abuse |
    • Ron Clark

      @Robinowitz

      There is no such thing as "brain-essential animal fats and muscle-building animal proteins". In fact, no animal fats are essential for any part of the body. Be clear that "essential" means that the body must obtain it mostly or completely from food because it cannot synthesize it on it's own. The only essential fats for the brain are omega-3's and omega-6's. Both are easily obtained from a plant diet that includes a wide variety of nuts and green vegetables. Omega-3 fats are of both the type ALA and DHA. Omega-3's are not nearly as easy to obtain as omega-6's, which is the majority of cooking oils (olive, canola). Also, the DHA type of omega-3 is even more difficult to obtain. DHA can be made in small amounts by the body from ALA, but can also easily be taken as a supplement as I do being derived from algae (no need for rancid bad breath fish oil capsules). ALA is found in many different nuts and seeds.

      As far as "muscle-building animal proteins", there are 20 total amino acids that make up all of the millions of different types of proteins that are the building blocks for every part of our bodies. Most of these 20 can be synthesized by the body using pieces of other types of amino acids, but there are 8 "essential" aa's that it cannot, therefore it must obtain them from food. You may have heard that animal protein is superior. The only reason this idea is out there is because it is usually a "complete" protein, meaning protein you get from eggs or milk contains all 20 aa's. Sure that sounds convenient, but it makes no difference to your body if you have a singular meal in which you supply your body with all amino acids for it to pick from than if you were to have some granola and blueberries with soy milk for breakfast, some lentil soup for lunch, some fruit for snacks, and a large salad with tofu for dinner. In the latter case you obtained protein from a variety of sources which will most certainly allow your body to arrive at its goal to have all 20 amino acids available. There are in fact quite a few plant sources of complete proteins including quinoa, buckwheat, soybeans, and hemp seeds.

      How do you suppose the cows and the chickens get all those super-awesome nutrients into their muscles for people to eat? When we don't shackle our animals in cages and force feed them whatever we want so that they get big and fat, what do they eat? Cows eat almost only grass. If cows could suddenly talk with us intelligently, would you be telling them that they should be drinking milk even as adults and having steaks for dinner, otherwise they will certainly not flourish? Do you consider gorillas, elephants, and many dinosaurs to be frail and sickly creatures? Their diet is completely plants. Do you suppose chimps are hiding some beef jerky in their pockets in order to get big and strong? Do you suppose the mammals that we share the most DNA with are somehow vastly different from us so that even though they don't need to eat sausage and eggs for breakfast, we do? Chimp's and orangutan's diet's are over 95% plants.

      August 27, 2011 at 17:14 | Report abuse |
    • Raichyk

      Exactly right, Robinowitz
      The idea that vegan diets are healthy was demonstrated convincingly to be fraudulent when the Hindu population who had moved to London but retained their cultural patterns of eating, began to fall apart physically. The conclusion was that their original healthiness was because the food supplies in their original cultures were not as bug-free as western food supplies.

      The Hindu vegans were kept healthy by eating bugs and their residues in their food supply!

      As for cows and what their preferences are. If they have access to milk, they will EAGERLY lap it up. So much for your hypothesis that nature's guidance favors milk-free adulthood. Cows just can't get their milk from a nursing mother who protects her calf. As for the idea that humans are engaging in stealing the milk, this is hardly credible when you account for all the free support those cows - in grassfed, free-ranging proper caring dairies - receive. These hostile ideas about dairy and animal farming done properly merely display complete and total ignorance of the real world of that sort of enterprise.

      Go stick your noxious, ignorant ideas into the CAFO concentration camps, which are not merely slaughterhouses, which themselves can be done properly.

      August 28, 2011 at 11:42 | Report abuse |
    • tech

      Vegetarian food is healthy for the body and better for the brain. This has been proved in various studies around the world. Those who think they cannot be vegetarians and cannot give up eating meat- u r wrong! Try it the right way and u will succeed and be happier and healthier. Also vegetarian food is cheaper and most suited during this economy

      August 28, 2011 at 23:00 | Report abuse |
  7. Rob

    @Robinwitz

    Yes some cultures do well with or without animal products. I am a successful vegetarian of two years and really have no intention of turning back. Most people are in agreement that the main cause of heart disease is our artificial reliance on grain based diets that offer to little nutrition other than calories.

    The same can be said for most animal protein. I find most people defend animal based diets in the eyes of a paleolithic ancestry of eating meat. While true, it is also important to understand HOW that meat was consumed and how those animals developed IN THE WILD. Most meat eaters want to live in a blind ignorance as to how meat is raised in our country. It is not raised on a farm, but in a CAFO (controlled animal feeding operation) where animals are stressed, crammed, living in filth and disease, and often live in sickness. The other important element is that early human cultures also ate ORGAN MEAT that is among the most nutritious meat products on the planet. Heart contains a ton of CoQ10, Eyes a ton of Vitamin A, etc. Yet, our culture does not consume much of this nutritious meat that our ancestors eat. Instead, we consume tons of animal muscle that has little nutritional value than amino acids that can be obtained from a variety of other sources. For example, Eggs are a complete protein and offer FAR more nutrition than any other animal based product. Much fish also contains a ton of Omega 3 fatty acids and is another complete protein.

    So my point is meat eaters want to point to this and that, but all we do is perpetuate the myth that meat is somehow "better" for you when it really isn't because it lacks the micronutrients necessary to help boost the immune system and metabolic integrity.

    Food for thought.

    August 26, 2011 at 09:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. jenn

    You don't have to be a vegan to eat a heart-healthy diet. Telling people that is just going to turn most people off – not helpful. Chicken and especially fish are very good for you. Also beans and lentils, whole grains, and "good fats" like olive oil, avocados and nuts. Yes, the largest part of what you eat should be lots of fruits and vegetables. Keep it simple, don't expect people to turn into monks.

    August 26, 2011 at 10:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Robinowitz

    Rob-Thanks for the thoughtful and respectful response. I've read way to many rude and childish comments to others of differing viewpoints regarding this article and I appreciate your response.

    I agree that factory farmed meat isn't ideal, but more people are turning to smaller organic sources for their meat/eggs/dairy these days. As I've implied but not said, I know that vegetarians tend to be healthier than most who eat the standard American diet since they tend to me more mindful of eating whole foods as opposed to twinkles and cereals and other junk. I also agree that most meat-eaters seem to favor muscle meat rather than organ meats, which is really just a cultural thing here. I have read books that support the eating of all parts of the animals we consume, though I've personally never eaten many organ meats because I haven't found many that I find palatable. I can't say that I would ever stop believing that even factory meat is better than no meat at all (at least for me), I still do try to get local, higher quality grass fed meat whenever I can. My in-laws have a small cattle farm and my husband and I try to get much of our meat from there, and we can get local dairy and produce very easily, especially this time of year.

    I say each to his own when it comes to what we eat. I'd never want to live in a place that forces a specific diet on its citizens, though it seems that is happening incrementally in this country (i.e. Forcing schools to not serve full fat milk to kids, Meatless Mondays, etc.). That's why I'm so concerned when I read mainstream articles that promise a heart-attack free life giving up all animal foods. I say it's unproven and way too extreme for most people, even if it WAS proven to be the most effective. I'm a believer in eating foods in their most natural state and I feel vegetarians and meat-eaters who make a study of health and nutrition can find common ground in that. I don't eat grains, but I eat meat and fish and poultry, eggs, some dairy, lots of veggies and some low sugar fruit. I eat full fat dairy and meats and actually eat until I'm satisfied while still losing fat and maintaining good muscle mass. 

    I know it's anecdotal, but I believe each person should be their own n=1 experiment and find what works for them.  Those so-called 'definitive' studies that supposedly prove this or that have so many flaws that it's irresponsible of this author to say that the meat-free lifestyle is for everyone based on these 'facts'. I believe everyone should read and form their own opinions and not just blindly trust anyone's advise. 

    August 26, 2011 at 10:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Ahmed

    It is not what you eat but how much you eat that matters. One can get sick over-eating vegetarian food or vegan too. It is the ability to let go when you feel satisfied that matters and not eat to full or for that matter drink. Potato chips are vegetarian and yet you eat too much of that in front of the TV, you know the results. i personally know health meat eaters and unhealthy vegetarian/vegan. Just don't eat like it is the last meal of your life.

    August 26, 2011 at 10:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. twotired

    Why even bother to argue with people? It is almost impossible to convince people one way or the other. We dropped the added oil of any kind, meat, and dairy from our diets, We fashion our diets mostly from Esselstyn and James McDougall and have found that we eat better than ever before and are stuffed with good food. I care because I had one bypass. They don't know why only one artery was 95% blocked. My CRP, indicator of inflammation (c-reactive protein) is now zero and my cholesterol dropped as if I were taking statins, which I cannot take. The only thing you may miss eating vegan is vitamin B-12 , but that is added to cereals and a pill can be taken periodically. I don't even get into discussion with friends unless they ask about it. It works for me, and that is all I care about.

    I wonder about some of the smart-mouth comments here, and if any of the writers ever had their chest cracked open and had to endure the pain of recovery.

    August 26, 2011 at 10:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Angel

      Well said, twotired. Sadly, when I see all of the responses that talk about this being a crock and how it is "extreme" I am constantly reminded of how shocked I am when I hear that the reason doctors don't suggest this is because they figure their patients won't be compliant, so why bother.

      There are countless examples of success not only with heart patients, but also among ultra athletes. The proof is pretty clear, it seems to me. @D–look up Scott Jurek, Rich Roll, Kenneth Williams, Brendan Brazier and Mac Danzig. Yes, you can be an endurance athlete and be vegan. Educate yourself. Hemp seeds are a great source of plant protein, as are many other sources, for instance.

      August 26, 2011 at 12:04 | Report abuse |
    • Vegan for Life

      I agree!!! I don't bring it up either...There's an epidemic of breast cancer among my friends and in my town, everywhere I turn there's diabetes, high cholesterol, etc...but when I bring up the incredible results I've achieved on Mc Dougall's Starch Based Diet its not really welcomed. The diet of choice among my friends is the Atkins/South Beach Diets, I just don't see them considering giving up animal products anytime soon...as I see it the more they eat animals the sicker they get, not to mention the prescription drugs they take. For all you Vegans out there I came across The World Peace Diet and boy that was a wake up call, I highly recommend it...Take Care 🙂

      August 26, 2011 at 20:26 | Report abuse |
  12. D

    I like the idea of eliminating heart disease but I have one concern: athletics. I am very physically active: mountaineering, road and off-road cycling (including century rides), lot's of long hike to Sierra lake for fly fishing. Can I get the stamina and muscle strength and stamina for high-caloric output activities without eating meat? I have noticed there are no Vegans in the Tour de France for instance. I hop someone can answer this. I eat meat sparingly but as a compact protein source, mostly fish, shell fish and white meats. I Eat small portions of red meats and use very lean cuts and trim fat. But how do I get enough protein as an athlete without meat or extraordinary expense and complexity in meal planning?

    August 26, 2011 at 11:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Veg Marathoner

      Hi D,

      RE: Tour de France, check out David Zabriskie, who's mostly vegan.

      For 100% vegan elite endurance athletes, see Angel's post above yours.

      Also check out Robert Cheeke, 100% vegan professional body-builder! Protein is NOT a problem!

      My personal story: I've been 100% vegetarian and mostly vegan for almost 13 years. The past 5 years I've finished 10 marathons. This year I took up mountaineering and have climbed Rainier, Hood, Baker. No dead animal flesh? No problem!

      That said, I've met several people who really, really wanted to be veg but just don't do well on a veg diet. That's enough for me to avoid declaring, "Anybody can do it!"

      As for you, why not give it a try? Hopefully you'll feel great and your performance will benefit! If not, you can go back at any time...it's not a lifetime commitment, 'ya know!

      Good luck!

      August 27, 2011 at 03:05 | Report abuse |
  13. FormerResidentOfVeganCulture

    I agree with both Rob and Robinwitz. I grew up in a country that had vegetarian diet for religious reasons. I knew people who were strict vegetarians and heart attacks were very common among these particular section. These groups were shrewd and successful business people. Probably, it is their lifestyle contributing or genetics. I had a neighbor, who was again vegetarian, but fed their only son with boiled eggs on doctor's recommendation.

    My childhood friend's dad was a non-vegetarian; he survived a heart attack and passed away many years later. He was a movie distributor. He suffered a major financial loss with one of the movies and had lost his primary residence. Had to downgrade and resort to alcohol to sleep (doctor's recommendation). This enormous stress had caused the attack. Eventually the business picked up, but not to the extent they all enjoyed.

    Personally, I found that when I have salads (Chicken Caesar, or Asian Chicken Salad), I feel lighter – no bloated feeling.

    August 26, 2011 at 12:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. D

    On another note, if being a Vegan eliminates heart attacks, why do so many in India still die from heart attacks and they even have a huge problem with diabetes. Is there proof we'll live longer or do we just die from another disease instead with about the same longevity average?

    August 26, 2011 at 13:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Angel

      @ D–not everyone in India is a vegan.

      August 26, 2011 at 13:46 | Report abuse |
    • Ghee

      OIL

      August 28, 2011 at 08:28 | Report abuse |
    • shan0133

      The high rate of heart disease & diabetes in India is DIRECTLY attributable to the loss of the traditional regional diets and
      introduction of fast food, American and other unhealthy cuisines, as well as the reduction in plant varieties resulting from the emphasis on cash crops that have export value thanks to agencies like the World Bank and IMF as well as companies like Monsanto, Cargill, etc.

      September 1, 2011 at 20:09 | Report abuse |
  15. patcee

    Imteresting about the Thai food. I stopped eating it in restaurants, although it's a favorite, when I learned all the dishes are full of oil – especially pad Thai. The doctor advises us to live without oil, even olive oil, and also advises Thai food. Doesn't make sense.

    August 26, 2011 at 13:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • wayne

      Without oil or fat your body cannot metabolize vitamins A, E, D and K. Doing without oil will lead to health problems. Stay away from vegitable oil. The best oils are coconut and palm.

      August 26, 2011 at 15:32 | Report abuse |
    • Veg Marathoner

      Maybe he's eating a salad (either no dressing or on the side) instead of Pad Thai?

      August 27, 2011 at 04:11 | Report abuse |
  16. GetSknnyGoVegan

    Vegetarian is not remotely the same as vegan. This particular, heart attack proof diet is vegan, with no added oil.
    That is a HUGE difference from vegetarian, especially with a bunch of white rice, a ton of sugar, salt, and dairy!!
    And only WHOLE foods!

    August 27, 2011 at 00:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. GetSknnyGoVegan

    And I am SHOCKED and impressed that Sanjay is covering this, but I guess when it comes from an ex-prez it is hard to have advertisers balk. Even if you LOVE meat and dairy, if someone you know is VERY sick, then at least read Esselstyn's books. Of course, The China Study too. And ADDICTED to new site nutritionfacts.org of Dr. Michael Greger.

    August 27, 2011 at 00:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. soc100w

    For lots of free info and links about the *many* benefits of vegetarianism (and the many problems with the production and consumption of meat), please visit (and share)

    Eco-Eating at http://www.brook.com/veg

    August 27, 2011 at 15:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Kanageloa

    I'm not sure it's "heart attack proof" but it's as close as you can get. I've been on a modified veg diet for almost two years. My old aches and pains from college sports are mostly gone. Blood pressure is normal. Lipid profile is excellent and most of all I now sleep better that I ever have. I eat meat twice a month. It's enough to keep me satisfied and I don't crave it. I enjoy meat but understand that I only need a very limited amount.

    August 27, 2011 at 17:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Joy Ogbonna

    Somethings gotta kill somebody I do believe I'll go out with a bang eating meat all the way!

    August 27, 2011 at 17:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Linda Lou

    I have strictly followed the plant based diet (vegan with no added oils) recommended by Dr. John McDougall, Dr. Caldwell B Esselstyn, Colin Campbell,PhD, and others) for the past year. At 65+, I have the blood pressure of a teenager and a very low cholesterol & very low inflammatory index (Reactive C Protein) many would kill for. My health is excellent, and my energy level is through the roof. The food is great consisting of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. I have just returned from mountain biking in the Smokey Mountain area and look forward to seeing the CNN special tonight about my diet.

    We do not want to push our way of eating on anyone. We just want you to have the scientific facts so you can make your on decision. I believe I will remain healthy, alert, and active the rest of my life. I look forward to each day of it.

    August 27, 2011 at 18:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Charles Richmond

    So what is the excuse this time for not showing the Heart Attack special, I guess a 4 year old stubbed their toe!
    Last week it was Libya, this week an almost nonexistent Hurricane.

    August 27, 2011 at 20:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Greg

    As Colin Cambell, PhD says in his fantastic book "The China Study" there are junk food vegetarians that eat the typical unhealthy American diet but just don't eat meat. I am sure that those people would be "sickly" and unhealthy. Also he points out that Atkins died from a Heart Attack". He recommends a whole foods plant based diet. After 3 weeks on the whole foods plant based diet my total cholesterol went down from 196 to 130 with LDL of 82. I had three 80% blocke coronary arteries and after 3 months of chelation therapy I have only one blockage left and I continue to improve. The Cardiolotgist want to do a triple bypass but I told him no I was going to do alternative treatment first and it has worked great.
    Keep tell the world the benefits of a whole foods plant based diet.

    August 27, 2011 at 20:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Moron

    Hi I'm a moron. Can you please help me understand how the vegan diet stops (and reverses) the blockage in my arteries? Besides being a moron I have little time to read all the great links provided. Please explain it like I'm a 7 yr old.

    August 28, 2011 at 11:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Aaron Davis

      http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5215695644951404318

      Chamber Esselstyn's lecture. Very easy to follow.

      August 28, 2011 at 19:19 | Report abuse |
  25. Veglover

    Very disappointed this show wasn't aired. I pray they reschedule it soon. People need to learn about how plant based diets can help prevent and slow down diseases. If they want to take that knowledge and use it, great. If they don't, they can continue digging their own grave with their fork.

    August 28, 2011 at 11:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Mike L

    when are they airing the last heart attack with bill clinton and Dr Gupta

    August 28, 2011 at 12:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Debra

      3pm today on CNN International

      August 28, 2011 at 14:09 | Report abuse |
  27. Josh

    Been waiting 2 weeks to see this special, but with CNN"S constant coverage last weekend of Libya and this weekend of Irene, I am wondering if it will ever air on television given seemingly continual global crisies.

    August 28, 2011 at 13:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Ilia Korboukh Sr.

    It is very funny to watch how CNN prettending to be a best service to customers has demonstrated the absense of even slitest respect to them by ignoring all questions when 'the last heart attack'" will be airing.

    August 28, 2011 at 13:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Sue

    Please repeat, want to see it but Hurricane news was on.

    August 28, 2011 at 18:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ernie

      Ditto when did this air, anyway? It was supposed to be Sat.8/27 at 8:00PM but hurricane coverage was on. Please repeat it !

      August 28, 2011 at 18:57 | Report abuse |
  30. Walter Oliver

    It was supposed to be Sat.8/27 at 8:00PM but hurricane coverage was on. Please repeat it !

    August 28, 2011 at 20:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Ali

    Dr. Guptas report is fantastic; however, how does it address people that dont have health insurance to follow thru on his report? It is elitest, and only helps ones that can afford this these treatments, Dr Gupta scares everyone, but offers no option for those that want to make themselves better, It is small minded at best,

    August 28, 2011 at 21:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Angel

      You don't need health insurance to eat this way. That's the beauty of this actual approach to fixing the problem, rather than just doing surgical intervention.

      August 28, 2011 at 21:24 | Report abuse |
  32. Joseph Thomas

    Gupta, you're an idiot!
    Fats and oils are necessary for proper nutrition.
    .You can eat ANYTHING in moderation, a word we in the U.S.
    do not comprehend. As is the other word we shun" "EXERCISE.
    The heart is a MUSCLE. It needs EXERCISE!
    The only exercise most Americans get is running their mouths and jumping to conclusions......

    August 28, 2011 at 21:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. GG1000

    I think it's important to note that access to animal protein tends to come with wealth, and thus is associated with other diet/health problems like convenience/fast foods, snack "nonfoods" eaten only for pleasure that provide no nutrition, and a sedentary lifestyle.

    If you take one farmer who works physically all day and eats small amounts of lean chicken and eggs and fresh fish when he can get it in addition to fresh fruits and vegetables and simple whole grains and compare him to another farmer who has a similar lifestyle except he doesn't eat the animal protein, I suspect you won't see such a difference. White flour, sugar, fried food, no exercise, etc. – these things often come with the wealth that often allows heavy animal protein consumption.

    August 28, 2011 at 21:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Bridget

    French fries have cholesterol? As far as I know cholesterol is made in the body. It is not made by plants, therefore, the only foods that has cholesterol in them are foods that come from animals.

    August 28, 2011 at 21:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Mack Jones, MD

    Dr Gupta should a show on obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). It's an epidemic and largely responsible for obesity, diabetes, systemic hypertention, cardiovascular complications, including heart attack, atrial fibrillation, heart failure, sudden cardiac arrest (especially during sleep), stroke, depression, cognitive decline including mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and as recently reported in JAMA, dementia (including Alzheimer's Disease).

    August 28, 2011 at 22:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. LuvLiamCat

    You must all read Good Food, Bad Food. Interesting to look at the science behind past and current thinking in nutrition.

    August 28, 2011 at 22:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. notbyintent

    Your article is nice. However, allowing Dr. Agatston to tell you that the lack of coronary calcium and having large particles on your lipid profile are somehow going to guarantee against heart attacks was a real let down. The South Beach Diet does not promote a low fat diet and Mr. Clinton was famously on this diet when he had his first bypass. To date, there is no data that Dr. Agatston's diet does anything to prevent heart attacks.

    August 28, 2011 at 22:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Mom of Many

    Dr. Gupta, you should do some reading into Dr. David Barker's prenatal nutrition theory. It may be the key to preventing heart disease, and diabetes long before your diet ever plays a role.

    August 28, 2011 at 22:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Mike Salerno

    What's the cause, and what's the effect?

    I always wonder about stuff like this, and studies in general.

    For instance, a recent TV commercial says (paraphrased) "People who eat whole grains weigh less". While that may be true, and a study backs it up, what is the cause of that? The whole grains, or the fact that people who decide to eat whole grain-based food are already weight/health conscious?

    Likewise, the "not eating animal-based food lowers heart disease risk". Does not eating animal matter lower heart disease risk, or is it that people who choose to not eat it are also purposely doing other things that lower the risk?

    Cause-and-effect is a tricky thing. Using a hurricane as an example, I could say a wave crashing onto the beach is causing beach erosion. But what caused the wave? The hurricane. Which is responsible for the beach erosion? The wave, or the hurricane? Both? One? Neither because moving water causes it in the first place?

    I have not seen any major studies that release information related to the cause of the action that is deemed responsible for the effect.

    August 28, 2011 at 22:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kip

      Then you're not paying attention.

      August 29, 2011 at 12:27 | Report abuse |
  40. Vicki

    We are so grateful for this incredible expose on heart disease. We have been teaching people healthy heart lifestyles in Marin County, California for over 18 years with incredible results. We are a non-profit and really help folks make the changes they need to make. And, we reverse the process of heart disease. Feel free to contact us http://www.myhhi.org

    August 28, 2011 at 22:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Payer

    Irresponsible headline.

    August 28, 2011 at 22:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. PhilG.

    It is practically impossible to become heart attack proof and the good Dr, knows it.

    The path to getting that way is very clear.

    It's just that the American pharmicalogical companies have absolutely NOTHING to do with that.

    It's following a oriental style diet- free of high animal fats and highly processed foods and living a relatively low stress life amongst a group of people that respect and care about you and you them.

    No soda's,low fat processed fake healthy meals AND NO PILLS.

    You can't sell that in America-so on we go with the miracle pill diets and food absorbtion modification plans.

    The bottom line is-we all die-I'm eating my bacon and eggs in my buttered grits till the day I die.

    With my six pieces of italian bread toast covered in real butter and a hot fresh coffee colored with real half and half too.

    And I'm not going to stress about it either.

    August 28, 2011 at 22:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Jeffbaseball

    Good article. Aerobic exercise with a good balanced diet. I stick with small amounts of range free chicken. Grass fed not grain fed. Lots of vegitables and truit during the day and some dark choclate at night.

    August 28, 2011 at 22:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. me

    Still waiting...?? When is this going to air? Pretty lame it keeps getting put off for coverage on the same old thing being repeated over and over and over, hour after hour! People wait to see this special!

    August 28, 2011 at 23:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. paganguy

    Dear Doctor Gupta,
    Please stop making people live longer. You are endangering the Social Security fund. The sooner people check out, the more money is left in the fund for me to enjoy when I am 120 years old.
    Thank you

    August 28, 2011 at 23:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. MichelleRocco

    Hopefully the next heart attack gets the job done.

    August 28, 2011 at 23:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Erika

    Interesting program, but I was disappointed in the science and lack of information about the other side of the diet debate. Mainly the role of inflammation in heart disease and whether there is evidence about dietary fat and colesterol and what it does to serum cholesterol and triglycerides. In fact at one point there was mention that serum cholesterol level is a poor indicator of risk. Many of these diets are based on observational studies (the China study) or animal studies (rodents evolved eating grains and seeds, we did not) and should not be presented as causal. To be fair and balanced when looking at traditional cultures, what about the Masai's diet which mostly dairy and meat? Or the traditional Inuit? Low fat and low cholesterol doesn't add up...and its just plain wrong to suggest that there is only one way to combat diseases of affluence. I advocate eating real food. Whole food, unprocessed other than by my cooking. Please do another program that looks into human evolution, better science, and a variety of healthy diets. I think the real problem is the total disconnect between our modern lives and our most basic needs.

    August 29, 2011 at 01:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Erika

      By the way, my *observation* of traditional diets is that they tend to be low in glycemic index, anti inflammatory, and low in polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acids (no vegetable oils or grain fed animals)

      August 29, 2011 at 02:45 | Report abuse |
    • Vegan for Life

      I personally don't need so much science or debate about evolution, what I need are results and I'm getting them, NOW! I've been plant strong for over 18 months and I assure you there's nothing in medicine that comes close!!! Its the natural way and by the way my "Observation" is that we come from nature not a slaughterhouse!!!

      August 29, 2011 at 06:37 | Report abuse |
    • Erika

      Good for you. I'm glad you found something that works for you. What I'm saying is that there is more than one way to achieve health and a plant based diet isn't going to work for everyone. Some people are allergic or sensitive to plant proteins like gluten and lectins or to plant estrogens. Personally, I found that reducing grains and legumes from my diet improved digestion a whole lot. Some would argue that eating grains and legumes (which didn't happen much before agriculture) is unnatural. Through most of human evolution we were hunter-gatherers so you could argue that eating meat is completely natural. Let's take a look at better science and human evolution if only to reserve judgement about what is "natural" and what is "right" for everybody.

      August 29, 2011 at 12:45 | Report abuse |
  48. Lise

    Thank you for this important coverage about the health benefits of a vegan diet, Dr. Gupta. Can you please also investigate how much less energy is needed to produce vegan food than animal-based food. We could go a long way toward reducing our energy dependence by all switching to a vegan diet, and that's on top of cutting way back on heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

    August 29, 2011 at 02:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Suzanne Watson

    I watched "The Last Heart Attack" last night, however the diets of the three areas on earth where there are never heart attacks were not described,,,,please describe them for me. Thanks

    August 29, 2011 at 07:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. bob kelso

    I'm 70. I had a heart attack while playing tennis in 1992, had angioplasty and 2 stents implanted. In 2004 I experienced angina pain and required 2 more stents.

    In May and June this year I began to experience angina pain again and ended up having triple bypass surgery on July 1. I'm home now, working again and living a normal life except for exercise (tennis will have to wait for another 4 weeks or so), but I worry about my transplanted veins clogging again. After all, they came out of my body which we know has veins that tend to clog.

    I'm grateful for the show you aired last night. I've decided to give vegetarianism a try. Hopefully it will help and I'm assuming it can't hurt. Where can I get more information on the medical studies that were mentioned in the broadcast?

    August 29, 2011 at 07:48 | Report abuse | Reply
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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.