Can plaque be reversed in my arteries?

October 20, 2012 6:46 am

man excercising
This is a common question. I would like to address lifestyle and reversal.

In our culture, about 8 in 10 men in their 50’s have plaque (fatty inflammation build up) in their arteries – and 90% of plaque is lifestyle related!

A recent study published in the prestigious journal Circulation 2010 showed that 2 years of weight loss (the average weight loss was 5 kgs) induced significant reduction of plaque in the carotid arteries in the neck – one of the major causes of stroke. It is likely that they also  had reduction of plaque in their other arteries eg coronary arteries.

Low fat or carbohydrate diet?

It doesn’t appear to matter whether the diet is mainly low fat or low carbohydrate.

The major reason that the weight loss caused shrinkage of plaque was that weight loss caused a fall in blood pressure (an average of 6 mm Hg).

Dean Ornish has published some fascinating small studies.

In the 1980’s Dean Ornish showed that one can significantly reverse blocked coronary arteries with:

  • a low fat diet
  • an hour’s exercise a day
  • an hour’s stress reduction daily (yoga and meditation)
  • social support with group therapy.

So what’s the point?

Plumbing problems (blocked arteries) kills 4 in 10 adults and kills more women than breast cancer. Now we know that you can prevent and most importantly reverse it through lifestyle measures completely in your control.

At Executive Medicine, looking for risk of and evidence of plaque is a huge focus of our (and your) practice, as is nutrition, exercise and coping with stress.

Written by Dr John Cummins 12 October 2012