Category Archives: Cardiovascular

Why I Eat a Plant Based Diet

In about April 2015 I decided to stop eating animal products.  For the previous year or two my son had become a vegan, and I listened to his reasoning for his life-style changes.  At first I was turned off by what I thought were his overly extreme positions on animal cruelty, environmental concerns, and initially his advocacy of an all-raw vegan diet.  As time went by though Kay and I cut more and more meat and dairy from our diets, and finally we decided to make the plunge.  My reasoning was two-fold. By far the most important was health.  I am  convinced that eating a plant based diet that is low in fat and highly processed foods is the healthiest way to eat.  I am convinced that this way of eating can reduce the risk of and prevent many cases of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and obesity.  In addition I am convinced that one of the primary causes  (arguably the primary cause) of our current environmental crises with global warming and the ozone layer shrinkage is animal husbandry.  Clearing vast swarths of our planets natural areas to produce food for cattle and to graze livestock, the huge methane release from ungulate feces and belching, the overfishing of our oceans, and the disaster that is mass-pork production has significantly contributed to the current state of our planet.  I was prompted to write this post after reading about Dr. Kim Allen Williams advocacy of a plant based diet.

Dr. Williams was the president of the American College of Cardiology in 2015-2016, and is the head of the Rush University School of Medicine.  He has been eating plant based since 2003 when he noted his LDL cholesterol was getting higher, and when he stopped eating animal products it dropped dramatically.  More recently he has been an outspoken advocate of plant based eating, and in a speech to the Food=Medicine Conference in 2015 he stated:

“There are two kinds of cardiologist: Vegans and those who have not read the data.

For more information see a link to “the data” on a blog post by Dr. Williams in the American College of Cardiology In Touch Blog.

For a good summary of his positions see the NY TImes article, Advice from a Vegan Cardiologist.

If he, in his position, can strongly advocate for plant-based eating, then I can too.  It is not difficult to eat a plant based diet. The trick is to substitute healthy plant-based foods for animal products.  That too is not complicated, but requires some degree of discipline.  Try to eat more fruit, vegetables and unprocessed grains, nuts, and seeds.  Use the convenient more processed foods as add-ins to the diet rather than a primary source of caloric intake. Most of all do the best you can.  Any steps toward major reduction in animal product intake is a step in the right direction.  Consider flexitarian eating, where you eat plant based most of the time but occasionally consume animal products if you are not ready for the commitment to eat fully plant based.  as Nike would say, Just Do It!

Blood Pressure: How Low is Low Enough

A new clinical trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine called the SPRINT Trial ( Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial ) which compares standard treatment of hypertension to a goal of a systolic BP < 140 compared to more aggressive treatment to a goal of systolic BP <120 was published on Nov. 9,… Continue Reading

Personal Experience on a High Plant Based-Low Fat Diet

This post is unlike any I’ve put up over the years of DrPullen.com  It is largely anecdote and not based on enough hard data that I will convince my physician friends.  Intrigued?  Read on. My son Brett has been on a journey with his diet and health over the last few years.  He has become… Continue Reading

You- Yes YOU Can Save a Life by Using an AED

This week Sound Family Medicine purchased a replacement AED (automated external defibrillator) for my clinic. I underwent a training session for use with the new device. It took about 1 minute. Open the container. Apply the pads. Turn on the machine. If it says to shock the patient make sure no one is touching the… Continue Reading

Preventing Death After a Heart Attack

Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of mortality in the U.S.  It causes leading to of every six deaths. On hospital discharge many patients are dismayed at the number of pills they are asked to take every day.  Often they had felt perfectly healthy prior to the sudden cardiac event, and may have taken pride… Continue Reading

Reaction to JNC-8 from a Practicing Family Doc

is Practicing physicians rely heavily on certain widely accepted guidelines to set goals and make treatment decisions for our patients.  Among the most respected and followed guidelines are those of the Joint National Committee on recommendations for the diagnosis and treatment of hypertension, often simply referred to as JNC.  The JNC came out with its… Continue Reading

Have You Heard or Non-compaction Cardiomyopathy

If you have never heard of non-compaction cardiomyopathy you are in good company. Every so often I have a patient who is diagnosed with a condition I’ve never heard about, and today that was non-compaction cardiomyopathy.  Cardiomyopathy I see fairly commonly, but non-compaction was something I’d never heard about.  Maybe sometime in med school I… Continue Reading

Real Costs of Apixaban vs. Warfarin for DVT

This is just a brief post to start a conversation on the cost of treatment of acute deep vein thrombosis (DVT)  with initial low molecular weight heparin plus warfarin vs the new and per-pill expensive apixaban (Eliquis®) recently approved by the FDA for this treatment of acute DVT and pulmonary embolism. Warfarin therapy has been the… Continue Reading