The Daily Beet

03 May The College Greens: Veda’s Story: Life After Her Heart Attack.

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purging the pantry


Veda’s kitchen clean-out!

This week, The College Greens are sharing the story of Jenna’s roommate (Karla)’s mom, Veda!  After suffering a minor heart attack she decided to make the switch to a whole foods, plant-based diet.  She is inspiring proof of how easy this lifestyle is.  We’re very proud of Veda!

Veda’s Story

I’m a 56-year old woman who 8 weeks ago suffered a minor heart attack.  I have been following Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn’s diet for reversing coronary heart disease for 7 weeks now.  Here is my story.

I have been slightly overweight most of my adult life and have never exercised regularly.  And I ate whatever I wanted, quite regularly foods very high in fat and not much fruit or vegetables.  But I considered myself a healthy person.  I felt this way, because I rarely get sick, and I feel in generally good health, not suffering from any aches or pains.  In fact, my regular blood tests have never shown any problems with my cholesterol levels.  My good cholesterol has always been over 60, and my bad cholesterol has only in recent years crept above 90.  I have been on high blood pressure medicine, though, for 3 years.  It had regularly been at the 140/90 level, but it has been well-managed since I’ve been on medication.

Having my heart attack made me face the reality that I needed to make changes in my life or I would be likely to suffer another one with worse results.  I found out that I had 3 blocked arteries, at 100%, 80%, and 60%.  The artery with the 100% blockage was opened by balloon and a stent was inserted.  And I have been put on a medication regimen including aspirin, Plavix, a beta-blocker, and a statin.  I was also given educational materials from the American Heart Association about heart healthy eating.

I left the hospital, though, not having a clear plan of how I would improve my health.  My daughter (Karla)’s friend, Jenna, gave her Dr. Esselstyn’s book “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease” to pass on to me.  After reading the book, I felt convinced that it was sound reasoning backed up by proof on how coronary heart disease could be reversed solely through diet.  I grabbed on to this, because it appealed to me in 2 main regards: 1) the diet is very simple – it is very easy to know what and what not to eat, and 2) I would not be required to exercise.  I have always found it difficult to make time in my life for regular exercise, although, I like incorporating walking where I can.

I am very lucky that my husband was equally enthusiastic about changing our diets.  And so we decided to try to follow Dr. Esselstyn’s diet to the letter.  This has made meal preparation easy – I think it would have been somewhat difficult had my husband not wanted to follow the diet also.  And together we’re giving each other a lot of support and encouragement.  My husband has been exercising regularly for at least 10 years, and he is very happy now to take these big steps in improving his diet.  Without any specific effort to reduce the quantity of food we eat, we have both lost 7 – 10 pounds already.  I’ve just been scheduled for my first blood work and stress test since my heart attack and am anxious to see if there has been any improvement in my heart condition and cholesterol levels.  We can see that this diet can’t be anything less than much healthier than we ate before, and we feel we’ll be able to stick with it for the long haul.

Update (6 weeks later): I found out from my doctor that my blood test showed that my cholesterol levels were good, but the stress test showed that blood flow to part of my heart is still poor.  I wasn’t discouraged by this news.  I think it will take time to reverse the damage done by so many years of unhealthy eating.  This is all the more reason for me to stay dedicated to the plant-based diet.  At 13 weeks and counting, I have lost almost 15 pounds, and my husband and I are greatly appreciating the taste of many fruits and vegetables.  It hasn’t been difficult sticking with the diet, because there are so many healthy options to choose from, and we are finding that our local Giant Eagle and other grocery stores in the area offer many food items that meet the requirements of the diet.  In general, we are enjoying good eating more than ever!

Karla’s Thoughts: As Jenna’s college roommate, never was I more thankful that Jenna followed a whole-foods, plant-based diet (and in turn became educated about the diet) than when my mom (Veda) had a minor heart attack this past January. I didn’t know what the future had to hold after this event, because I didn’t know if my mom would make any lifestyle/diet changes that seemed necessary at this point.  She’s a stubborn person, but thanks to Jenna’s resources of whole food, plant-based diet books, it took just two days of my mom reading to become convinced that she had to follow this diet. In today’s society, we hear daily of the newest fads and trends in diets. The fact that there are no “if’s”, “and’s”, “but’s” or catches with this diet was so encouraging and has made me hopeful. I love going home to see the pantry and fridge completely redone with whole, plant-based foods and knowing that my mom is doing the best thing she can do to improve her health!

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The College Greens
The College Greens

The College Greens: Tara, Jenna, and Craig. Tara is a junior at Bucknell University, currently majoring in Education and minoring in Creative Writing, and planning to do a nutrition program upon graduation. Jenna is a sophomore attending Duquesne University, and she is studying to become a Physician Assistant. Both Tara and Jenna are certified in Plant-Based Nutrition through Dr.Campbell's eCornell program. Craig is a senior at Bucknell University. He is majoring in Chemistry and minoring in English, and is planning to go to medical school to become a pediatrician, where he hopes to incorporate lifestyle medicine in his practice.

  • Celina
    Posted at 10:22h, 03 May

    Wonderful! Wishing you a long, healthy, and happy life Veda!

  • Laurie
    Posted at 12:54h, 03 May

    Congratulations Veda! Just think how much your body will love you if you stick to the plant based eating AND add exercise!! 🙂 You’ll be rocking your 60’s, which is what I’m planning on doing!

  • Rick
    Posted at 14:57h, 03 May

    Congratulations Veda. We do have the power. I too have healed or am healing my heart with the same program. Am 60 yrs old and on no meds. and feel great.

  • Kelly
    Posted at 08:32h, 04 May

    Veda should watch the documentary ‘Forks over Knives’ it will help reinforce the principles of the diet. It features Dr. Esselstyn and Dr. Colin Campbell and it is life changing.

  • Kay Lynn
    Posted at 18:04h, 04 May

    Congratulations Veda! I am in my 50s and started eating a plant-based diet six weeks ago after watching Forks over Knives. You’re an inspiration!

  • Penny Jones
    Posted at 19:03h, 05 May

    I am 63, and had aminorheart attack last October, I’ve been doing the same diet since the end of november and have lost 25 pounds, i excercise as well. My chloresterol has gone right down and have been taken off statins just 3 tablets now but want to get off them as well.

  • Cindee
    Posted at 08:35h, 30 May

    Congratulations Veda! I also have heart disease in my family and I still have to take meds for my high blood pressure because of years of unhealthy eating. I have been doing this for a year now and I have lost 66lbs! Keep it up your heart will love you more 🙂

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