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 (1,186 Responses)
  1. Maserati Recall


    May 15, 2021 at 11:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. commercial locksmith Palo Alto

    thanks for sharing!


    May 15, 2021 at 13:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. cyclomune

    cyclomune cyclomune 0.1% eye drops cost

    May 15, 2021 at 16:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. storno brzinol

    What¦s Taking place i am new to this, I stumbled upon this I have discovered It absolutely useful and it has aided me out loads. I hope to contribute & assist different customers like its helped me. Great job.


    May 15, 2021 at 20:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. aika online gameplay

    Hi! I could have sworn I’ve visited this site before but after going through a few of the posts I realized it’s new to me. Anyways, I’m certainly delighted I came across it and I’ll be book-marking it and checking back often!


    May 15, 2021 at 21:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Social Media Marketing Agency

    This blog was... how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I've found something which helped me. Thank you!


    May 15, 2021 at 21:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Digital Marketing Contractor

    Oh my goodness! Incredible article dude! Many thanks, However I am encountering troubles with your RSS. I don’t understand the reason why I can't join it. Is there anybody else getting identical RSS issues? Anyone that knows the answer can you kindly respond? Thanx!!


    May 15, 2021 at 23:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Social Media Marketing Companies Near Me

    Pretty! This was a really wonderful article. Many thanks for supplying this information.


    May 16, 2021 at 00:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Social Media Marketing Businesses


    May 16, 2021 at 01:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. brimonidine

    buy generic brimonidine combigan generic prices

    May 16, 2021 at 02:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Social Media Marketing Quotes


    May 16, 2021 at 03:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Aika Game

    I really like it when folks get together and share views. Great site, keep it up!


    May 16, 2021 at 03:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. avana

    buy avana canada avana canada

    May 16, 2021 at 05:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. aika online private servers


    May 16, 2021 at 06:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. collision center of temecula

    Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you penning this article plus the rest of the site is very good.


    May 16, 2021 at 12:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. 2007 Sprinter Rear Heater Repair


    May 16, 2021 at 13:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Toy Maserati

    Very good article. I am going through many of these issues as well..


    May 16, 2021 at 15:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. avana

    avanafil stendra dosage avanafil buy

    May 16, 2021 at 18:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Repair Van

    You are so awesome! I do not suppose I've read something like this before. So good to discover another person with some original thoughts on this issue. Really.. thanks for starting this up. This website is something that's needed on the web, someone with some originality!


    May 16, 2021 at 19:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Maserati Chicagoland


    May 16, 2021 at 21:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Fiberglass Van Roof Repair


    May 16, 2021 at 21:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Mercedes Sprinter Repair Near Mee

    An intriguing discussion is worth comment. I think that you should publish more about this topic, it may not be a taboo subject but usually people do not discuss these subjects. To the next! Kind regards!!


    May 16, 2021 at 23:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Mercedes Benz Sprinter Chassis Repair


    May 17, 2021 at 00:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Van Auto Repair

    Your style is very unique compared to other people I've read stuff from. Many thanks for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I will just book mark this site.


    May 17, 2021 at 00:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Maserati Intruder

    After going over a number of the blog articles on your web page, I seriously appreciate your way of blogging. I saved as a favorite it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back soon. Take a look at my website too and let me know what you think.


    May 17, 2021 at 01:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Sprinter Van Repair San Diego


    May 17, 2021 at 02:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Pre Owned Maserati


    May 17, 2021 at 03:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Sprinter Van Repair Laguna Niguel

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you writing this write-up plus the rest of the website is very good.


    May 17, 2021 at 03:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Repair Cost On Mercedes Sprinter Van

    You have made some good points there. I checked on the net for more information about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this web site.


    May 17, 2021 at 06:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Authorized Sprinter Repair Shop


    May 17, 2021 at 06:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. trailer supplies orange county


    May 17, 2021 at 13:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Maserati Levante Lease

    Pretty! This was an incredibly wonderful post. Thank you for supplying this info.


    May 17, 2021 at 14:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Maserati Palm Beach


    May 17, 2021 at 15:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Beer Kegs For Rent


    May 18, 2021 at 14:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Assisted Living Palm Springs

    This is a topic that is close to my heart... Thank you! Exactly where are your contact details though?


    May 18, 2021 at 17:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. New Forklift Dealer California

    I couldn’t resist commenting. Perfectly written!


    May 18, 2021 at 20:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Google Marketing Agency


    May 18, 2021 at 22:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. 2009 Maserati Quattroporte For Sale

    An outstanding share! I've just forwarded this onto a colleague who was conducting a little homework on this. And he in fact ordered me breakfast simply because I discovered it for him... lol. So let me reword this.... Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending time to discuss this issue here on your blog.


    May 18, 2021 at 23:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Commercial Roof Coating

    This is a topic that's near to my heart... Best wishes! Where are your contact details though?


    May 18, 2021 at 23:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Social Media Marketing Program


    May 19, 2021 at 01:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Contact Lens Specialist Near Me

    Pretty! This was a really wonderful article. Thank you for providing this info.


    May 19, 2021 at 05:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Sign Companies Near Me


    May 19, 2021 at 10:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Decals Near Me

    I like it when people come together and share opinions. Great website, stick with it!


    May 19, 2021 at 11:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. RV Collision Repair Riverside

    Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you writing this post plus the rest of the website is very good.


    May 19, 2021 at 13:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. RV Repair Los Angeles

    This is a topic that is near to my heart... Best wishes! Exactly where are your contact details though?


    May 19, 2021 at 14:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Sprinter Repair Shop


    May 19, 2021 at 14:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. RV Solar Panels Systems Near Me

    Hello there, I think your blog could possibly be having browser compatibility issues. When I look at your site in Safari, it looks fine however, when opening in Internet Explorer, it's got some overlapping issues. I simply wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Besides that, fantastic website!


    May 19, 2021 at 17:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. RV Fabrication Orange County


    May 19, 2021 at 19:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Digital Marketing Service

    Having read this I believed it was really informative. I appreciate you finding the time and energy to put this short article together. I once again find myself personally spending a significant amount of time both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still worthwhile!


    May 19, 2021 at 20:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. rv paint shops


    May 19, 2021 at 20:32 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

Leave a Reply to patricia hill


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

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.

August 2011
  • An error has occurred, which probably means the feed is down. Try again later.