Former Vice President Dick Cheney’s new book, Heart: An American Medical Odyssey, describes his harrowing 30-year battle with heart disease, including five heart attacks and having to say goodbye to his family when he feared he would die from the disease. His excellent team of physicians and surgeons has provided him lifesaving medical care and he is on the mend. But I wrote to him today and asked that as he promotes his book he let people know that adopting a plant-based diet can prevent and reverse heart disease and the traumas he and his family endured.
Oct. 18, 2013
Dear Former Vice President Cheney,
I’m happy to hear your excellent team of physicians and surgeons has provided you lifesaving medical care and that you are finally on the mend from your five heart attacks and 30-year battle with heart disease. Surgery saved you, but others can avoid that fate. As you promote your new book, Heart: An American Medical Odyssey, please let people know that adopting a plant-based diet can prevent and reverse heart disease. It’s something millions of Americans need to do for themselves—and their loved ones.
Nearly 8 million people in the United States have had a heart attack, and 800,000 people die each year from heart disease. But a recent study in JAMA Internal Medicine found that people who improved their eating habits the most after a heart attack had a better chance of surviving. A diet lowest in red and processed meat products and highest in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables lowered the risk of death from heart disease by 40 percent, compared with no dietary changes.
I hope you’ll consider making some of these changes to maintain—and likely improve—your current heart health. But it’s not only your heart that will benefit.
A plant-based diet doesn’t only help people suffering from heart disease—countless studies show that it fights obesity, diabetes, cancer, and dementia, to name a few diseases. And vegetarian diets just help you live longer. A new study by Dean Ornish, M.D., found that men who adopted a low-fat, plant-based diet, may slow the aging process.
So do it for yourself. But also do it for your family and friends, who have suffered with you and would ultimately grieve your untimely loss from heart disease or any cause.
The American Heart Association says that caregivers who devote themselves to their loved ones to the exclusion of their own needs become ill, and that caregivers who experience mental or emotional strain have a 63 percent higher risk of death than noncaregivers. There’s also a financial toll. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that families who experience heart disease deal with medical bills, lost wages, and decreased standard of living.
I’ve enclosed a copy of my book 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart which explains the many health benefits of adopting a plant-based diet. It also includes a three-week meal plan and recipes. Please let me know if I can offer you any other guidance.
I hope you try a plant-based diet for your health. If not for yourself, do it for someone you love.
Neal Barnard, M.D.
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
5100 Wisconsin Ave, Ste. 400
Washington, DC 20016