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British Heart Foundation
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Treating heart disease naturally and weaning off BP meds

Hi

Since my Nstemi MI last October, I am following a plant based whole food diet and have lost a lot of weight and my blood pressure sometimes gets really low and I am getting shortness of breath which feels more like diaphragm isn't expanding properly.

I've seen cardio the other week and had an echo which he says is normal with an ejection fraction of 69% (this was 67% directly after MI). He said the sooner you can get off ticagrelor the better as I still get chest aches/burning although these have improved. I had endoscopy revealing gastritis which I presume causes some of my symptoms. What I forgot to ask is, if I am compliant with plant based diet and my Bp drops to silly figures like 88/52 surely I could come off bisoprolol and Ramipril otherwise there would be no point in following this diet which claims to reverse heart disease.

Has anyone else managed their disease with diet alone apart from maybe say taking aspirin once a day? Also has anyone else felt shortness of breath due to the meds?

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I tried vegetarianism a number of years ago and concluded "not for me"!

Onto your other questions. Ramapril very, very occasionally causes shortness of breath. Your GP may be willing to reduce this if your readings are matched in the surgery environment. Beta blockers protect the heart I'm addition to reducing BP and I suspect they would be more reluctant to reduce this.

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Thanks for your reply Michael. I agree with protective effects of beta blockers but surely 88/52 is too low. This diet has made my BP plummet but it makes no sense to eat more poorly to bump up my blood pressure. I'm feeling more like a zombie each day and could sleep until lunchtime. i am healthier for the diet and eat enough but feel meds are holding me back. Ie doing too good a job if that makes sense. I am on the lowest dose of bisoprolol 1.25mg.

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Agreed it seems low which is why I suggested looking at the Ramapril dose.

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Yes it could also be the ramipril I am on 2.5mg. I am going to ask the doctor about them both and see what he thinks. I remember after stents were fitted they suggested doses of both be upped as tolerated. I never did get to that point as I seem to be overly sensitive to these meds.

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After my bypass my statins were quadrupled. I will be querying this at my review. Upping meds seems to be automatic but I am not convinced by this!

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Totally agree, you have to question them as we are all different and respond differently to medications.

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If the response to statins was linear (which obviously it is not) my next cholesterol would be negative.

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Good idea to see your GP. The RAMIPRIL's side effects are similar to what you are experiencing.

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Are you under observational treatment? Who took the BP reading? If it was medical personnel surely they should have discussed the LBP with you. The problem with BP that low is you may become prone to fainting.

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Hi Len

I have a BP monitor at home and take it when I suspect my BP is low. I can usually feel when it is. Will definately ask doc about ramipril. Re beta blockers protecting heart this only seems to ring true for those with heart failure after mi or hypertension and doesn't seem to be of benefit otherwise. I've read that heart damage can be caused by reducing BP too much which makes sense when you think about it. What a minefield this all is. Guess we all have to muddle through with careful trial and error whilst being brave enough to challenge outdated advice from gp's.

Re aspirin I agree, I am told to take Lanzoprazole but that did nothing for my chest ache. Plus PPIs aren't good for you either, Ie stop absorption of vitamins etc, and as I am wanting to treat naturally as much as possible, I need the healthy food to be absorbed to help heal me. The body can and will heal within reason given the right fuel.

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Hi Andie, glad to hear that *almost* everything is going well for you. I too am wondering about the meds. In discussion with a cardiologist after reading on here somebody else’s post I am staying on Ticagrelor for several months more - apparently it still offers some benefit beyond 12 months to those less likely to have internal bleeding. As for the BB’s , yeah not sure about these.... I too am pretty much on a plant based diet with a little bit of fish...so bp is staying low but not as low as yours (mine is usually about 110/68). It does sound like you have an argument for review, you seem to have such good bp lowering results with your diet. I do think the bb’s (even just at 1.25) still make me quite tired.

I hope you get it all sorted soon , so you can continue with your excellent recovery.

Ps. Glad to report my LVEF is back to normal. Onwards and upwards! Best wishes, David

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Wow, that's great new about your LVEF. See how much can be achieved in a short time! You've done well and I am in no doubt the diet has been the greatest influence. My cardiologist was impressed with my total cholesterol which was never really high is now down to 1.6 and he even admitted it was most likely down to strict diet than all to do with statins. the drop in BP has happened more so in the last couple of months, probably the diet really taking effect. I really struggle to get up for work and could sleep forever but I do eventually get going but I know it's the meds.

Re Ticagrelor I am nervous about stopping that due to late stent thrombosis risk. I think I am more concerned as I have 3 stents in one artery so envisualise the stent mesh still not being totally covered by new tissue. If I knew none of my symptoms were due to it I would stay on 3 years. As they say the risk of bleeding which can in most cases be treated does not compare to stent thrombosis which is most often fatal.

I had wondered how you were getting on so it was nice to hear your reply. Really chuffed your LVEF is back up. I bet it felt good to hear that.

Take care and keep up the good work.

Andrea

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Hi Andie. I too follow a strict vegan diet since my Heart attack last year. Lost 5.5 stone and BP also dropped along with pulse rate to 38 during the night. I tried coming off Bisoprolol first as only on 1.25 but found that my heart rate went up (albeit only slightly )to 60-65 with feet up on sofa from 50-55. And at exercise went up to 120 from usual 110. This then didn’t help psychologically!! As I thought oh dear best stop pushing the exercise!!! How stupid am I (no comment required!). So back on them. Especially in this heat I find I need them. However I will be trying again and probably reduce my Lisinopril. Under supervision of the GP I have an agreement to cut my tablets in half to start reducing them as I have to increase and decrease slowly because of hypersensitivity. So that maybe an option for you. But I stress that it is with my GPs knowledge because most people don’t like the inexact science of cutting them.

I was interested to read about you continuing with Ticagrelor. Unfortunately I had thrown up an allergic reaction to that and clopidogrel so cannot take them just on aspirin now. I think I might try one of them again as I discovered an allergy to Lansoprazole as well which could have been affecting those too.

Not sure if this helps or not. I still think the plant based diet is worth the effort though. As an aside do you take Vit B12 supplement which is essential with being vegan. Take care. Best wishes Zena

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Hi Zena

Well done on your weight loss that's fantastic and this plant based diet is good for that. I note from your earlier posts that you had your procedure at the same hospital as me, the Freeman. My theory with regards to your allergies is that your body is improving so much that it is now trying to detox from the meds, I feel this us what is going on with me too. The meds although life saving in some circumstances are still a poison to the body and when we heal naturally I don't feel there is much room left for medications, not when you want true good health. I do feel that if physical damage to the heart has occurred then some meds may be necessary but the body strives to heal and is amazing at it given the chance.

Re bisoprolol, when I halved from 2.50 to 1.25 I did have a harder heartbeat for a week but this died down, I am hoping I don't have too much problem coming off altogether and some day I will.

Re Ticagrelor I really don't like it but if I had to choose to take one tablet out of them all it would be this one despite how harsh it is as its so important for stents. But at least this one is one we all can stop taking after a while. Jury's out on just how long is best to take it.

I see my diet and complete u turn in lifestyle a little experiment to see just how much I can affect. despite the strange symptoms which could be the body healing, I am noticing that my skin is starting to look great, hair fuller etc. I know I am on the right path, just a little impatient to get off meds. I also take b12 and vit d3.

Regards

Andrea

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Yes was at the Freeman. Fantastic hospital and staff. I forgot to mention that I was on a drug trial comparing Ticagrelor and aspirin to Ticagrelor and placebo. As I said I had to stop the Ticagrelor because of allergies so only on aspirin. When the results come out I shall post them. I am still followed up though as part of the trial. I’m also impressed at your cholesterol being 1.6. I have Familial Hypercholestraemia and can maintain mine to about 4 with this diet but struggle without statins which is a shame as the final one I can tolerate (pravastatin) is now causing neurological symptoms so have no option really. Anyway I shall be interested in your continuing progress in coming off medication as I will be trying the same. Take care. Zena

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Hi Andie1975, glad to hear your BP reading is coming down. Your question regarding the use of ASPIRIN. You should be very careful using it when you have been diagnosed with gastritis. I used it as prescribed treatment for elevated BP, years ago, and it caused severe damage to my stomach lining. Now I can't even take anti-inflammatories. Remember the reason you are taking beta-blockers, to protect the organ from strain. I would like to think that a diet can reverse damage to your heart, but I'm not convinced that is possible. A good diet will assist in preventing further problems; your cholesterol can be held in check which will prevent your arteries being damaged, so while you are enjoying the new diet, and you have allready benefitted by losing unwanted weight, you are in a win win situation. Good luck.

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Hi i am on same meds as you and yes gave random breathlessness . Are you on the esselstyn diet ?

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Hi Piano

Yes I follow that diet, only I don't adhere to only 3 fruit per day and have quarter teaspoon of sugar in tea twice a day. Other than that I am strict with it. Did your breathlessness feel as if its from your lower ribs, kind of like the diaphragm won't expand enough?

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Yes a tension round lower ribs. It does go and i am aware of sude effects associated with these tablets. Am working towards esselstyn goals slowly but surely. A good book also to look at re. Good physical recovery is 'the thrive diet' by brendan brazier. I am about to sprout my own lentils chick peas, etc. I am 63 and have a 10 year old daughter my nstemi in december 2017. 2 x Overlappibg stents in left cardiac artery. The cardiac team were great. Praise be to the NHS

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Yes that's what I feel. It doesn't make me feel good when doing exercise which defeats the object. Great idea about growing your own. I would advise anyone to watch forks over knives if you haven't already, it is brilliant and left me in no doubt about how to live moving forward. Heart disease is food borne and doesn't have to progress. The medical establishment have not really caught up with this yet so until then everyone is offered drugs. Obviously big pharma don't encourage this knowledge, there's no money in it and they can't patent fresh fruit and veg! Anyway the tide is turning slowly but surely which is good.

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Hi, your post made me think of a article in the Daily Express from June 18th, ditch pills to beat heart disease. A. Consultant cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra says good health rarely comes out of a bottle. A case study shows a man who had a heart attack and after a year on medication, gave up the medication went on a diet, ditched the carbs, eats the things we are told are bad for us, butter, full fat products etc, he has lost a lot of weight, feels much better and now runs marathons.

I had 1 stent after angina problems and now take lots of meds too. It is hard to know what is good for us. This Dr wrote in 2013 about it said sugar and starchy food the cause of heart disease and not fats. Perhaps you can find the article and good luck with your quest for coming of the drugs.

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Hi Anke

I have to say that the evidence largely points to fat being the cause. Some people are genetically lucky and don't succumb but to those who are susceptible fat does damage the endothelium, more so animal fat mainly. We simply don't need it. You never see a gorilla with heart disease and they live on bananas and foliage (all carbs). I've cut all fat completely out, my cholesterol is 1.6 and the fact is that in countries where they eat all plant based and their cholesterol is below 1.5 there is no heart disease. It's a hard diet to follow but after months on it you just get used to it. if you think about it all fruit and veg has some natural sugar and starch as do beans etc. Nature provided this food so it would have to be a pretty big mistake if this is what is killing us. My wish is that one day everyone will realise they have it in their power to heal themselves from coronary artery disease. Nature really does have the answers in my opinion it's just so hard to make the change after a lifetime of unhealthy eating.

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I did get the opportunity to speak to dr. Esselstyn over the phone. It was a lucky call as i never expected a response like that. I woukd very mych like tp compare nites with you bout your approach to this diet as i have been a bit on thr fence about the 'no oil' aspect

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Scuse typos just re read it lol

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Hi there, that must have been great to speak to the man himself. How did you manage to get to speak to him?

I tend to believe in the no oil concept as our body can make its own cholesterol. I've read somewhere that when the body is desperate for cholesterol it will start to scourge it from anywhere in the body even if that means existing plaque in the arteries. I can quite believe it would do this as the body is quite resourceful, for example calcium is taken from bones if required.

Since starting this diet fully end of Jan this year, My cholesterol is 1.6 (0.8 and 0.8 hdl,ldl) at its highest it was 4.4 cpl of years ago. triglycerides dropped from 2.6 to 0.8. BP was often 160/100. now it's on average 100/60 sometimes lower which makes me dizzy.

I've just been to doctors this afternoon and he said that my symptoms above (shortness of breath,tiredness) could possibly be due to ramipril so told me to stop taking it. He then said in a month he would try to get me off bisoprolol. He said he is only doing this because of my efforts and how they are affecting results. It was music to my ears as I half expected him to say no you should stay on them. He also feels that in a few months I should wean off statins or at very least reduce them. I also had results in from a recent echo which he said looked normal just trivial mitral and tricuspid regurgitation but that nearly everyone has that. I count myself lucky that damage seems minimal despite needing 4 stents.

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Is there any chance you would like to have a chat over the phone that we may exchange ideas and about your approach to this diet. Would find it so much more user friendly than typing on my mobile.

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I am also following a whole food plant based diet (WFPB) and have spoken to Dr Esselstyn on the phone 2 and a half years ago when I was diagnosed with multiple coronary blockages. I follow it strictly with also no oil (WFPBNO). It is worth the effort because...

Within days of starting this dietary programme my blood pressure began dropping from 150/90 (on meds) to 100/70 and then 80/50 (with dizziness). I saw my GP and we first cut down, then stopped my meds.

Rather unusually, labetalol (a beta blocker) was the blood pressure medication I was on, as I had been on it during pregnancy. On labetalol I had been tired and lethargic so stopping BP meds gave me a physical boost, as well as a mental boost that the WFPBNO approach was definitely promoting healing.

Within 3 weeks, my total cholesterol also dropped from 4.5 (on atorvastatin 40mg) to 2.2 on the WFPBNO diet. LDL fell to 1.3 and later to 0.9.

It was tempting to try to stop the statin also but then I did some reading and it appears that to stop further plaque build up (which is what we all want, right?) it is important to keep LDL below 1.8.

And keeping LDL <1.3 seems to promote plaque reversal in some lucky patients. My own cardiologist has even suggested he wants my LDL as low as 0.5. So in my case I stay on a small dose of statin or else my LDL goes up above 1.8.

The British JBS3 preventive cardiology guidelines also recommend keeping LDL below 1.8.

See this helpful 4 min video from Dr M Gregor:

nutritionfacts.org/video/op...

A quote from the above piece:

"We could be stressed, overweight, smoking diabetic couch potatoes, but if our cholesterol is low enough, there may just not be enough cholesterol in our bloodstream to infiltrate our artery walls and trigger the disease."

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