Dr. John Day is President-Elect of the Heart Rhythm Society (HRS, 2014-2015) and was program director for the Society’s 2014 Scientific Sessions in May of this year.
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common abnormal heart rhythm, affecting ~2.3 million adults in the US. About 9% of people over the age of 80 are thought to have it. AF increases the risk for stroke fivefold.
Dr. Day caused a stir at the HRS conference by stating, “Does AF even need to happen?” He thinks it can be prevented by a change in diet (to predominantly plant-based) and lifestyle.
Is Atrial Fibrillation Necessary? The Most Important Study Presented at the Heart Rhythm Society 2014 Scientific Sessions, John M. Mandrola, MD, Medscape, 11 May 2014
During a session entitled “How to prevent and reverse AF,” Dr Day gave one of the most unusual talks I have ever heard at a medical meeting. He started with a personal confession:
“Until a few years ago, my life was about ablating AF, thousands of ablations, three per day. In the process of this, I didn’t give a whole lot of thought as to how the patient got AF or what was happening to my life.”
Next, as he showed images of his diet at the time—doughnuts, pizza, and soda—he told the audience:
“At age 44, my health had hit rock bottom. I was overweight. I had developed high blood pressure, high cholesterol, palpitations, insomnia, and even an autoimmune disease. And I was taking five medications. Something had to change.”
He described trying the usual diets and solutions, even the “gluten-free thing.” Not much happened. Then he got interested in the famous book The China Study:
“I became fascinated with some of these rural Chinese villages where people lived long lives, free of heart disease and cancer. I speak Chinese, and we visited these places multiple times.
What I learned has taken my life in a whole new direction.
My entire perspective of AF has changed from one of ablation to one of … does AF even need to happen?”
Let me remind you that Dr Day is about to lead the world’s most influential electrophysiology society.
Then he showed an incredibly professional four-minute video of a Chinese village. [I’ve embedded that video below.] Alongside rolling streams were smiling 100-year-old Chinese women. A calm female voice narrates …
“They have such a sense of peace about them.”
Then this, in Dr Day’s voice:
“Whether you are 40, or 50, or 60, or 70, it’s never too late to make changes.”
The video stops, but Dr. Day continues:
“I began to slow down. I started looking at the big picture, eating real food, sleeping. My extra weight came off without trying; my cholesterol fell nearly 100 points; my BP dropped 30 to 40 points and my CRP went below 1.
“I now take no medications. I feel good.”
In an interview with me the next day, Dr Day said he thinks (in most cases) AF may be unnecessary.
Dr. Day is writing a book about his experiences in rural China. In the video below, he documents some of those experiences. I love the interviews at the end where people who have obviously lived long lives say they are happy and do appear to be happy. There are aspects to life in a rural Chinese village that just don’t translate to life in a big American city. We live and work by the clock, in climate-controlled buildings. We eat industrially-produced food. But I think there are still lessons here. In calling this a trailer, it sounds like Dr. Day has a documentary up his sleeve. I hope so!
The American College of Cardiology1 and the Heart Rhythm Society are not wacky, fringe groups. They are mainstream medical establishments. And their upcoming Presidents have respectively come out in favor of plant-based diets. Not low-carb diets, not Paleo diets, not even the diets recommended by the American Heart Association or the American Diabetes Association. These respected, credentialed physicians are advising the consumption of plants. I’m beside myself.