Dr. Dean Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease: The Only System Scientifically Proven to Reverse Heart Disease Without Drugs or Surgery

Dr. Dean Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease: The Only System Scientifically Proven to Reverse Heart Disease Without Drugs or Surgery

by Dean Ornish
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Dr. Dean Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease: The Only System Scientifically Proven to Reverse Heart Disease Without Drugs or Surgery by Dean Ornish

The Ornish Diet has been named the “#1 best diet for heart disease” by U.S. News & World Report for seven consecutive years!

Dr. Dean Ornish is the first clinician to offer documented proof that heart disease can be halted, or even reversed, simply by changing your lifestyle. Based on his internationally acclaimed scientific study, which has now been ongoing for years, Dr. Ornish's program has yielded amazing results. Participants reduced or discontinued medications; they learned how to lower high blood pressure; their chest pain diminished or disappeared; they felt more energetic, happy, and calm; they lost weight while eating more; and blockages in coronary arteries were actually reduced.

In his breakthrough book, Dr. Ornish presents this and other dramatic evidence and guides you, step-by-step, through the extraordinary Opening Your Heart program, which is winning landmark approval from America's health insurers. The program takes you beyond the purely physical side of health care to include the psychological, emotional and spiritual aspects so vital to healing. This book represents the best modern medicine has to offer. It can inspire you to open your heart to a longer, better, happier life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780804110389
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/01/1996
Edition description: REPRINT
Pages: 638
Sales rank: 120,821
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 6.80(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Dean Ornish, M.D., is the founder and president of the nonprofit Preventive Medicine Research Institute and clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and also clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego. Dr. Ornish was trained in internal medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, and the Massachusetts General Hospital. His research has been published in the leading peer-reviewed medical journals, including the Journal of the American Medical Association, The Lancet, and The New England Journal of Medicine. His work has been featured in all major media, including cover stories in Newsweek, Time, and U.S. News & World Report. He has received numerous awards, including the 1994 Outstanding Young Alumnus Award from the University of Texas, Austin, and the National Public Health Hero Award from the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Ornish is the medical editor for the Huffington Post and his TED talks have been viewed by more than 5 million people. The author of six books, all national bestsellers, he was recognized by Life magazine as “one of the 50 most influential members of his generation” and by Forbes magazine as “one of the world’s seven most powerful teachers.”  Dr. Ornish lives in the San Francisco area with his wife and partner, Anne, and children, Lucas (Luke) and Jasmine (Jazz).

Read an Excerpt

“Why Don’t You Do Something
More Conventional?”
“Who are you gonna believe, me or your own eyes?”
—Groucho Marx, in Duck Soup
“Not everything that counts can be counted.”
—Denis Burkitt, M.D., in The Cancer Survivors
“Innovation is a very difficult thing in the real world.”
—Richard P. Feynman, Ph.D., in Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!
“Keep an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out.”
Forty million people in this country suffer from diagnosed cardiovascular disease, and an even larger number don’t yet know that they have a heart problem. Sixty million people have high blood pressure. Eighty million have elevated cholesterol levels. Over 1.5 million Americans have heart attacks every year. And for almost one third of them, having a heart attack was their first indication that they had a heart problem— clearly, not the best way to find out.
Although lifestyle factors play a major role in all of these, I was trained to treat hypertension, high levels of blood cholesterol, and coronary heart disease primarily by prescribing drugs. Yet increasing evidence indicates that medications to lower blood pressure and cholesterol prevent or reverse heart disease in only a small percentage of people. These drugs sometimes make people worse. And moderate dietary changes are not enough to reverse heart disease for most people.
Faced with this new information, many people are beginning to wonder, “Well, why bother? There’s not much I can do to make a difference. Bring out the bacon and eggs!”
Fortunately, my colleagues and I are finding that the comprehensive lifestyle program described in this book can lower cholesterol and blood pressure more than has ever been reported without drugs and can even begin to reverse severe coronary heart disease in many people without using cholesterol-lowering drugs or surgery. Of course, none of us is going to live forever, but we don’t have to suffer the premature death, disability, and cost that come from heart disease.
I first became interested in conducting research on heart disease in 1975 when I was a medical student at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. In 1977, I had the privilege of studying with Dr. Michael DeBakey, assisting in the operating room when he performed coronary bypass surgery. His surgical skill was amazing, the technology was impressive, and the circumstances were dramatic. After a while, though, I became a little disheartened as I saw the limitations of technological approaches that literally and figuratively bypassed the underlying causes of the problem. It was the difference between temporizing and healing.
Bypass surgery became, for me, a metaphor for the inadequacy of treating a problem without also addressing the underlying causes. We would operate on patients, their chest pain would usually go away, and they were told that they were cured. Most would go home and continue to do the same things that led to the problem in the first place. They would smoke, eat a high-fat, high-cholesterol diet, manage stress poorly, and lead sedentary lives.
At that time, even the hospital had several cigarette machines in the lobby, and just about the only foods available in the hospital cafeteria were cheeseburgers, fried fish, and french fries. In many hospitals, it’s still that way. Some even have McDonald’s or Burger King franchises right in the hospital. (Now, though, Baylor has a lowfat gourmet restaurant.) Several years ago, Dr. Robert Wissler, an eminent pathologist at the University of Chicago, fed his patients’ regular hospital diet to baboons. The baboons developed arterial blockages.
I began to wonder: What would happen if, instead of bypassing the problem, patients began to change what seemed to be the underlying causes of their heart disease?
I went to the medical library and began reading extensively. There were many research studies proving that diets high in fat and cholesterol cause blood cholesterol levels and blood pressure to go up, whereas low-fat, low-cholesterol diets cause blood cholesterol levels and blood pressure to go down. Epidemiological studies showed that high blood cholesterol levels increase the risk of heart disease in virtually all countries throughout the world.
Other studies indicated that emotional stress increases blood pressure and blood levels of cholesterol independent of diet—the type of stress is not that important. Indianapolis 500 race car drivers have higher cholesterol levels after the race than before. Tax accountants have increased cholesterol levels around April 15 when compared with the rest of the year. Medical students have higher cholesterol levels during exams. Likewise, other research studies demonstrated that stress management techniques can lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure independent of diet. Furthermore, evidence showed that smoking increased the risk of heart disease, and regular exercise helped to decrease the risk.
Each investigator worked in his or her own area—for example, Dr. Herbert Benson studied meditation, Dr. Ralph Paffenbarger studied exercise, Dr. Frank Sacks studied diet, and so on. Surprisingly, no one at that time had studied a comprehensive lifestyle program that used all of these lifestyle interventions, and no one had examined the effects of these lifestyle changes not only on risk factors such as cholesterol and blood pressure but also, more importantly, the effects of a comprehensive lifestyle program on the underlying heart disease process.
It seemed like an exciting opportunity, so in 1977 I decided to take a year off between my second and third years of medical school in order to conduct a small pilot study of ten patients using this combined lifestyle program. The Chief of Medicine, Dr. Antonio Gotto, was very supportive and provided most of the testing facilities, and the Franzheim Synergy Trust provided a grant to help support the study. The Plaza Hotel in Houston donated ten rooms to us for one month.
One of the advantages of being a second-year medical student was that I hadn’t had enough clinical experience to be jaded, to know that it was “impossible” to reverse heart disease, so I told the patients that this program might help them get better. Since most of them had heard from their physicians that their heart disease was only likely to stabilize or worsen over time—the so-called natural history of the disease process—I was unwittingly giving many of them hope for the first time since their illness had been diagnosed.
It was hard to find eligible patients. We were looking for people who had documented coronary heart disease and chest pain but who were not going to have bypass surgery. More bypass surgery is performed in Houston than anywhere in the world, so if a patient had anigiographically documented heart disease and chest pain, then most of the time he or she underwent bypass surgery. As a result, we had to look through over ten thousand patients’ charts to find even one hundred patients who were eligible for the study.
Eventually, ten people volunteered. They all experienced remarkable improvements after one month on our program. People who had had incapacitating chest pain with even minimal exertion—showering, shaving, gentle sexual activity, walking short distances—became essentially pain-free and were able to do all of these activities without difficulty. In most cases, these improvements began to occur after only a few days.
Many of those who had been out of work for years now were able to return to work full-time. Everyone reported feeling more energy, less depression, and a greater sense of well-being.
The participants’ cholesterol levels dropped significantly. Their blood pressures decreased so much that we often had to reduce or even discontinue the anti-hypertensive medications that many of them had been taking for many years (and had been told they would need to take for the rest of their lives). Exercise capability improved in everyone.”
Most participants not only felt better, they were better. We used what was at that time a new test called an exercise thallium scan, a type of nuclear medicine study now in use in most hospitals. This test noninvasively measured how much blood flow the heart received. Using this test, we found that most patients showed significant improvements in coronary blood flow—after only thirty days!
This was thought by most doctors to have been impossible—“There must be some mistake,” many of them told us at the time. “The tests must be wrong.” Nuclear medicine tests such as the thallium scan were sometimes called “unclear medicine” by doctors because the images were not always 100 percent reliable—although they were accurate enough to serve as the basis for clinical decisions every day. Since the pilot study hadn’t included a randomized control group for comparison, some critics asked, “How do you know that patients wouldn’t have gotten better anyway?” even though it would have been highly unusual for anyone’s thallium scan to improve without drugs or surgery. Nevertheless, we published a summary of our results in the journal Clinical Research. A few years later, similar improvements in blood flow and function were found in studies by Dr. Gerhard Schuler in West Germany, by Dr. William Haskell at Stanford, and by Dr. Victor Froelicher in San Diego.
I then learned that a few physicians (including Dr. Lester Morrison, Dr. William Castelli, Dr. Walter Kempner, and others) and some laypeople such as Nathan Pritikin speculated that coronary artery blockages could be reversed in humans by a low-fat diet and exercise, whereas most cardiologists dismissed this idea as a lot of nonsense. Unfortunately, there was little scientific evidence to prove or refute these claims, so the public became confused and the medical community became polarized. Other physicians such as Dr. Robert Eliot, Dr. Carl Simonton, and Dr. Βernie Siegel and people such as Jeanne Achterberg, Joan Borysenko, and Norman Cousins discussed in their books and lectures the importance of managing emotional stress and interventions such as visualization in treating chronic diseases. Again, due to the lack of scientific proof, there were more debates, misunderstandings, and disagreements.

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Dr. Dean Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease : The Only System Scientifically Proven to Reverse Heart Disease Without Drugs or Surgery 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have been very impressed with this book and am so excited that am recommending it to anyone I meet... there is a wealth of wisdom in this book ; it is a very honest, sincere, wholesome book that can transform our lives irrespective of whether we are heart patients or not.Dr Ornish should be given the award of a "True Humanitarian" for having taken so much effort, dedication, sincerity and pain in studying alternate sciences, experimenting them successfully and opening up his vast expanse of assimilated knowledge by way of a program for the benefit of the entire human race. What is even more commendable is the fact that despite being from the medical profession, Dr Ornish has shown great vision and open mindedness in testing alternate methods that can change our lives ; he throws light into a new art and science of living and must be commended by his honest references to the old Indian practices of Yoga and Vegetarianism. There is man of strong convictions and character who has done great service to humanity by writing this book. I think his book is a masterpiece . From - Darshana Bhatt
Guest More than 1 year ago
Excellent book that has already made a huge change in my life. My cholesterol is reduced and I'm loosing weight without being hungry.
Guest More than 1 year ago
7 years ago (at 53) my husband had emergency open heart surgery. While he was still in the hospital, his surgeon turned him on to this book, saying it might help him live a better, healthier life. I read it too, thinking it would be clinical, but what a fascinating narrative it turned out to be. The reasons Dean Ornish got involved in his research in the first place, the lives of his study participants and the general knowledge of how our bodies work are reasons enough to read and feel the power we all get from knowing how to help ourselves stay well and enjoy life. A must read for anyone who is or loves someone who's a Type A personality!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
GREAT book. How many books can save your life? This one can. I had a heart attack about 9 months ago. Had two stents put in to improve blood flow in my heart, which addressed the immediate problem ... but then I began having more chest pains. A time release nitroglycerine type drug was prescribed for the pains (angina). Which worked most of the time but felt "funny" - hard to describe the feeling. Anyway, a friend gave me Dr. Ornish's book, and I immediately decided to try his program. I was already exercising every day, but I added the plant-based diet to that. So guess what? A few months down the road I was pain free and off of the angina medicine. Blood pressure lower, cholesterol and lipids in great shape, and I've dropped 25 pounds without even thinking about weight loss. You can eat as much as you want on this program, it's all about WHAT you eat. Dean Ornish's program WORKS. For sure and certain. I can personally attest to this, as can others as well. I found it very easy to adapt to the plant based diet, no sweat. I'm living this way now and for as long as I live. It's enjoyable and the results speak for themselves. Ignore any negative reviews here, I'm tellin' ya this works, and the book is full of vital information, with an engaging personal narrative from Dr. Ornish. Buy this book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
We are so conditioned to believe that since everyone else eats crap, you can too. Everyone should read this book - heart problems can happen to anyone, and a whole lot sonner if you eat a typical US diet. This book lays the foundation we all need to eat better for life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dr. Dean Ornish's prescription for overall health and well-being includes a dose of diet, exercise, meditation, and communication. He first began formulating his Open Your Heart program while he was a medical student at Baylor college of Medicine in Texas in the 70's. He truly believes that heart disease can be reversed. In this new book he takes on 'emotional and spiritual' issues. His actual diet recommends avoiding all meats, avocados, olives, nuts, seeds, dairy products (other than egg whites and nonfat dairy products), sugar and simple sugar derivatives (honey, corn syrup, high fructose syrup), alcohol and coffee. He recommends eating beans, legumes, fruits, grains and vegetables. The main reason he wrote Love & Survival was to show that he is aware that love has the power to heal. He doesn't believe we value them enough in our society. He says: 'When you look at the scientific data, the need for love and intimacy is as important and basic as eating, breathing and sleeping.' Everyone knows love and intimacy are great, but not many people realize how important they are to our well-being and our basic survival. He recommends spending time with friends and family (and I recommend giving them all a hug every time you see them :). He also recommends that we find a place where we can feel a connection to our community. This could be a community center, a church or synagogue or anyplace where people meet on a regular basis, e.g. clubs, leagues, games. People who don't draw strength from their religious faith or are not a member of a group of people who meet on a regular basis have seven times the death rate compared to those that did. Now, that is something to think about if you want to extend your life.
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FrustratedMK More than 1 year ago
Useful information but since the chart size cannot be enlarged it cannot be read, Much of the book is unreadable,
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Bummed_by_Nook More than 1 year ago
He could shorten this up by 150 pages at least, but it's good information. However most of the formatting for the Nook Tablet makes the illustrations & diagrams unreadable. The Nook Tablet is hard to read. In fact, it just doesn't do anything well. Even an iPod works better than a Nook Tablet. What a waste of money. Putting a Zagg non-glare screen cover on the Nook makes the unreadable screen even worse. The Nook doesn't convert and store picture files (.jpg). It loses those files and others. Some show that they're there, but they don't open. With the added micro SD card, it will quit playing music in the middle of songs. Don't buy a Nook Tablet.