By vegan naturopath Robyn Chuter.
Dr Kim Allan Williams is kind of into ‘firsts’. He’s the first African American to be elected president of the American College of Cardiology, which is highly significant because African Americans suffer the ravages of cardiovascular disease more than any ethnic subgroup in the US:
- African Americans have the highest age-adjusted death rates due to heart disease and stroke of any ethnic group;
- CVD is responsible for more deaths in the Black community than all other diseases combined;
- Nearly 44% of Black men and 48% of Black women have some form of cardiovascular disease;
- African American adults are much more likely to suffer from high blood pressure than white adults, and more likely to die of a heart attack or stroke;
- Up to 30% of deaths in hypertensive Black men and 20% in hypertensive Black women may be attributable to high blood pressure, which African-Americans may be more prone to due to genetically-determined salt sensitivity (1).
He’s also the first ‘openly vegan’ (is that the new ‘openly gay’ ?) president of the ACC, and he’s doesn’t hold back when asked why.
As he explained in his opening address to the 3rd International Plant-Based Nutrition Healthcare Conference, which was held in Anaheim, California from 30 September-3rd October 2015, back in 2003, a routine blood test revealed that his LDL cholesterol level was a frighteningly high 170 mg/dl (4.4 mmol/l). It was a rude awakening for Williams, who had prided himself on eating a ‘prudent’ diet in line with American Heart Association guidelines – he avoided red meat and fried foods, minimised dairy products, and stuck to chicken breast and fish.
Coincidentally, after receiving his worrying result, Williams – who is a nuclear cardiologist, specialising in diagnosis of cardiovascular disease – reviewed a patient in whom he had identified severe coronary heart disease 6 months earlier. The woman had blockages in 3 major blood vessels supplying her heart, that put her at extremely high risk of suffering a heart attack. Unbeknownst to Williams, in the interim the patient had put herself on Dr Dean Ornish’s program for reversing heart disease, which incorporates a low-fat plant-based diet, exercise, meditation and social support.
Noting that her follow-up scan was essentially normal – that is, her severe triple vessel disease had healed in the space of 6 months – Williams quizzed her about what she’d been doing. She reported that her chest pain had resolved about 6 weeks after commencing Ornish’s program.
Spurred on by concerns about his own health, Williams began investigating Ornish’s research, and was so impressed by what he found that that very day, he dropped all animal products from his diet and put himself on an Ornish-style low-fat plant-based diet. Just 6 weeks later, his LDL cholesterol level was down to a much more respectable 90 mg/dl (2.3 mmol/l).
Now 12 years down the track from his personal epiphany, Dr Williams recommends a plant-based diet to his own patients who have who have high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure or coronary artery disease, and even tells them where to shop for the plant-based foods that he enjoys!
In an interview (2), Dr Williams commented
“Wouldn’t it be a laudable goal of the American College of Cardiology to put ourselves out of business within a generation or two? We have come a long way in prevention of cardiovascular disease, but we still have a long way to go. Improving our lifestyles with improved diet and exercise will help us get there.”
A long way to go, all right. Cardiovascular disease and stroke, combined, is still the leading cause of death in both the US and Australia. The practice of cardiology is a fraudulent farce, with close to 90% of interventional cardiology – stenting and coronary artery bypass grafting – being performed on patients who receive no benefit from these procedures (see my article What Bill Clinton’s cardiologist didn’t know (and why you need to know it) for more) but must still bear their economic cost, and the heightened risk of stroke, heart attack and cognitive impairment (‘pump head’) that come with them.