Since human race entered into this millennium, there has been a change in entirety from lifestyle to dietary habits. The food marketers and edible product manufacturers focused more on the commercialism of the food than the quality of the content. The Pakistani-Indian population is an obese race with a higher tendency towards diabetes and coronary artery disease that often prove to be fatal. Also, these people sustain similar diseases despite environmental changes, immigration and changes in their lifestyle.
By global data, published in ‘The Lancet’, Pakistan is the 8thmost obese country in the world and India as one of the major nations of high diabetes prevalence. These conditions just not only raise the probability of heart attack but also hamper in an overall outlook on life, practices, and outcomes of the daily schedule. Scientific knowledge, pathophysiology of coronary diseases and clinical research has all targeted in finding the solutions to this illness but one fact is evident, none can change the genetic structure of this race, making them susceptible for many more centuries to come, until a sporadic change can occur or the genome that assists in high lipid content and formation of plaques is changed by multi-ethnic marriages or some miracle that can eradicate this course, something very rare to happen.
The food content, that we South Asians often cherish is just not delicious but even beautiful of a sight to consume. Biryani, Pulao to Puri and Halwa is all our race has celebrated from the Mughal Era till date. All these dietary practices have corroborated to make us obese, increasing coronary disease patients among us that eventually leads to lifelong medications, routine exams by internists and cardiologists with an unexpected end of life. Question is, can we reverse coronary disease? Can we become resistant to a Heart Attack? The simple answer is, luckily yes. We can just not save ourselves from developing diabetes mellitus but also avoid ourselves from developing atherosclerosis, sequelae of coronary diseases and stroke as well. But this isn’t simple, it is actually only possible if you are ready to walk an extra mile with the meticulous approach towards your nutritional supply.
Heart Attack is a condition that has killed millions of people in the past and is a major killer of humanity. We remember one sad global news of President Clinton who had to undergo four-vessel coronary artery surgery after a heart attack episode at age of 58, during his book tour. The surgery was done on September 6, 2004, by Surgeon Craig Smith, Chief of Cardiothoracic Division at New-York Presbyterian Hospital. His surgeon explained in a press conference that his arteries were blocked, well over 90 percent, which could have been fatal. A cardiologist, Dr. Allan Schwartz of the same division added that it was the substantial likelihood, he can suffer a heart attack well before it happened, considering his health and diet.
After some time of the surgery, his vessels faced a limitation to sustain the process and later had to opt for vascular stenting, which was the second operation in 2010 to maintain the adequate blood perfusion levels. His trip to this heart attack was strategized the day he was diagnosed with hypertension and before leaving his office, few of the last official checkups showed the need for lipid-lowering medications. Dr. Sanjay Gupta reports his health deterioration through his CNN documentary, ‘The Last Heart Attack’ in 2011 and described that he saw President Clinton wasn’t well when he met him in a Haiti camp. Gupta says that he found President Clinton tired and lethargic during his volunteering activities.
Soon after that meetup, he had a heart attack! But after that episode, he regained himself as a healthier person at a much older age now. Clinton says, ‘Not only we could pass our last heart attack but the vast majority of people even my age can reverse a lot of their blockage’. What did he do? What can we learn from President? One thing, ‘No-oil and plant-based diet’. The charming President Clinton has lost pounds, re-adjusted his belt hole, reduced body mass and all set to remain longer with us. He himself says that he is ‘more of a vegan’ now with no meat, no fish and no oil products.
The food he consumes now is less beautiful of sight, obviously, salads are not as good looking as our routine and most of it is just a green palette but that is not just a diet, it is a medicine. Clinton’s diet model cannot just be an important breakthrough to daily meal habits but can entirely change the course of nutritional medicine and holistic approach to the body. He underwent multiple checkups and he is healthy but also happy to opt for this lifestyle that changed his life, increased the time of life and saved from subsequent heart attacks.
Studies and research data of heart attack suggest that this event happens when a patient has 50% blockade of the artery and usually happens in people with ‘no’ symptoms. As a heart patient progresses into life, he has to increase medications, ranging from beta blockers, statins, and angiotensin controlling drugs. The quality of life is compromised by trying to reduce the weight, managing diet plans and plus consuming these medications on daily basis. All sum up to change the way, a person sees his life. On the other side, by eating ‘raw’ vegetables or cooked in an olive base, no chicken, no meat, no fish and a big no to fried products, including the fancy fast food outlets, a person can cut short of future medications and somehow gets protected from coronary disease.
Harvard Health Journal advocated Dr. Ornish’s proposition about the reversal of the coronary disease by plant-based diet. Dr. Ornish is one of the first people to believe and inquire about the possibilities of saving a person from heart attack, if the diet is regularized to vegan diet with entirely removing the meat from life, he also was a close consulting physician to President Clinton who not only suggested him a new diet but strongly believed that his scheme can save uncountable lives and wholly change the practice of medicine. He believes that President Clinton’s second operation was not due to the vessel problem but his diet which he wasn’t very particular about. Although his proposal is new to medicine and multiple studies and trials by international colleges have yet to validate it.
But so far a study by Dr. Esselstyn, published in ‘The Journal of Family Practice’ showed that after dietary modification to the plant-based diet, only one had the stroke out of 177, who were trialed for four years, in contrast, those sustaining the regular diet faced cardiovascular events. In an episode, Dr. Esselstyn shares that his patients’ angiograms have shown the clear vessels after months of vegan diet, which is amazing and he adds saying these survivors as, ‘Heart-attack proof’. This isn’t an indication of managing the heart condition but actually reversing it. Reversal of an existing chronic condition is a novel concept and if it happens, it means a lot to our human race. This evidence assures the possibilities of just not changing the practice of cardiology, reduction of heart attacks but if we accept this health idealism, this means that human race can step into much-much longer lives without compromising the quality of daily life.
In Pakistani-Indian culture, we have seen that our fellows are fond of deep-fried items and often consumed on daily basis with a misconception of considering the meat food as our protein provider. Apparently, it seems okay to have that diet but in a longer process, we are assisting the bad fat to pile up in our vessels, especially the narrower conduits of heart and brain, clogging the blood route to these vital organs. Once these routes are stopped, there is a rapid irreversible progression towards death in form of a myocardial infarction or a stroke. It is vital to consider from an early age that this fat stacks in vessels can be greatly reduced by redirecting to a better diet to stop this mortal process.
Also, once the bad diet makes room in our body, there is an associated calcium deposition that hardens the vessel walls which aggravates the problem. If your family has a coronary disease history and you have consumed all that you should have not, it is highly recommended to discuss this with your family doctor about undergoing a carotid scan and a coronary calcium scan. Both of these are non-interventional, basic imaging workups that can suggest the rough degree of fat and calcium status in your vessels and one can become more cautious of future. As discussed earlier, we cannot change our gene and we cannot change the process of the body but we can change our diet to a purely plant food to live longer and healthier.
We, south Asian love to eat, and somehow food is the focal point of our events, ceremonies and gets together. It is less of a body need than our cultural practice that is harmful and a bit harsh to say, not a good cultural practice. It is understandable that it is very hard to give up on what we love, especially if it’s the kebabs and chicken tikka with a rich qorma, but it is worth giving up on this love to stay longer with our loved ones! Next time you go to buy grocery, get this for your nutrition: Vegan Food, Legumes, Whole Grain, and Fruits. Do not enter in the isle of fast food or frozen products and never think to walk into the section of oils, ghee or fizzy drinks. No coffee. No latte and no caffeine. Say bye to nuts. That’s all folks! Live longer, healthier, smarter. An add-on perk to less obesity is, you look younger and more beautiful. Save yourself from Heart Attack!
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