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LMU 09 – Dr. Dean Ornish’s Pioneering Approach to Heart Disease Reversal: A Decade of Transformative Research


LMU 09 – Dr. Dean Ornish's Pioneering Approach to Heart Disease Reversal: A Decade of Transformative Research

Source: Medscape, May 12, 2016

Lifestyle Medicine Update (May 23, 2016)


Dr. Dean Ornish, a renowned medical researcher and author of several books, including “Dr. Dean Ornish Program for Reversing Heart Disease,” has long been hailed as a pioneer in lifestyle medicine. His groundbreaking work has revolutionized the approach to heart disease treatment, emphasizing the significant impact of diet and lifestyle on cardiac health. This article delves into Dr. Ornish’s research and discusses how his program has demonstrated remarkable results in reversing heart disease and improving heart function without resorting to drugs or surgery.

The Ornish Program: A Path to Reversing Heart Disease

At the heart of Dr. Ornish’s program lies a comprehensive approach that encompasses diet, exercise, stress reduction, and social support. Unlike many other dietary regimens, Dr. Ornish’s program has been uniquely tailored to address advanced coronary heart disease and significant arterial narrowing. This makes it more restrictive than general nutritional recommendations, adopting a vegan or plant-based diet with minimal non-fat dairy, egg whites, nuts, and avocado.

The remarkable aspect of Dr. Ornish’s program is its ability to reverse plaque build-up in the arterial walls, promote blood vessel dilation, enhance oxygen supply to the heart muscle, and improve heart pumping efficiency. These effects have been substantiated through advanced imaging techniques like Cardiac PET scans, angiography, and ventriculography studies.

Scientific Credibility: The Backbone of Dr. Ornish’s Program

One of the most critical aspects of Dr. Ornish’s work is the scientific rigor underpinning his findings. His program has been subjected to rigorous scientific scrutiny, setting it apart from other popular diets like the Mediterranean Diet, Atkins Diet, Paleo Diet, and Wheat Belly Diet. Despite their popularity, these diets lack objective evidence of reversing heart disease, making Dr. Ornish’s approach unique in its effectiveness.

Dr. Ornish’s Research Beyond Heart Disease

Beyond heart disease, Dr. Ornish’s program has also shown promise in other health areas. Clinical trials have indicated that it can help stabilize localized prostate cancer in men and improve glucose, cholesterol, and blood pressure levels in high-risk patients, including those with diabetes. Additionally, the program has demonstrated its ability to reduce body fat in overweight patients, making it an all-encompassing solution for numerous health concerns.

The Role of Diet and Lifestyle in Prevention

While Dr. Ornish’s program is tailored to patients with advanced coronary disease, the principles it embodies hold valuable lessons for preventing arterial narrowing in the first place. For the general population, adopting a less stringent version of his dietary recommendations, regular exercise, stress management, and social support can substantially improve overall cardiovascular health.

Embracing Soy as a Source of Protein

Dr. Ornish and Dr. James Meschino, a medical researcher, have endorsed soy products as an essential source of protein in their dietary recommendations. Soy provides a plant-based protein option and has also been linked to a reduced risk of cancer and heart disease. This underscores the importance of incorporating soy into a balanced diet, especially in the context of disease prevention and management.

Interview with Dr. Dean Ornish

Dr. Dean Ornish’s interview on Medscape, published on May 12, 2016, offers fascinating insights into his research and its implications for the broader medical community. Through this interview, Dr. Ornish sheds light on the far-reaching impact of lifestyle changes on cardiac health and how his program has the potential to transform lives.


Dr. Dean Ornish’s pioneering work in lifestyle medicine and heart disease reversal has left an indelible mark on the medical field. His evidence-based program has shown remarkable results in reversing heart disease and improving heart function without medication or surgery. Combining a plant-based diet, exercise, stress management, and social support has proven to be a powerful tool in enhancing overall cardiovascular health.

As we strive for a healthier society, we must recognize Dr. Ornish’s contributions and the importance of evidence-based approaches in medical research. By adopting elements of his program and embracing healthier lifestyle choices, we can move closer to a future where heart disease is no longer the leading cause of mortality. Dr. Dean Ornish’s legacy inspires medical professionals and individuals to prioritize their health and well-being through sustainable lifestyle changes.

Dr. James Meschino


Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.

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