Dr. Dean Ornish answered:
In the Lifestyle Heart Trial, we were able to demonstrate that heart disease often can be reversed simply by making comprehensive changes in diet and lifestyle alone. Perhaps equally important, we showed that our study participants were able to make these changes in diet and lifestyle in a real-world environment. To the best of my knowledge, our study is the only one to demonstrate that it really is possible for many people to maintain comprehensive changes in diet and lifestyle for several years.
The study was originally designed as a one-year intervention in the lives of patients who had severe coronary heart disease. Based on our results after one year, we received foundation and government support to continue studying the same group of people for five years. As I described in chapter 1of the book Eat More, Weigh Less, almost all of the participants remained on the program very successfully during the first year. On average, they showed even more reversal after five years than after one year. In contrast, participants in the comparison group who followed the conventional diet and lifestyle recommendations, including a 30 percent fat diet and exercise, became even worse after five years than after one year.We did not select these participants because they were the most motivated to change their lifestyles. Rather, they just happened to be in the hospital receiving a cardiology test called an angiogram on the days that we were looking for volunteers. We approached them and asked if they wanted to be in the study. About one-half agreed, even though it required them to have another angiogram after only one year, a painful and somewhat risky test. We accepted anyone who volunteered. Only one person dropped out during the first year. Because of this, I think that more people may be willing to make and maintain comprehensive changes in diet and lifestyle than many doctors believe possible. Also, I have received thousands of letters from people who have been able to follow this program successfully simply from reading my previous books.Find out more about this book: Eat More, Weigh Less: Dr. Dean Ornish's Life Choice Program for Losing Weig...In the Lifestyle Heart Trial, we were able to demonstrate that heart disease often can be reversed simply by making comprehensive changes in diet and lifestyle alone. Perhaps equally important, we showed that our study participants were able to make... More