Joel Fuhrman MD

Joel Fuhrman MD

Posted May 3, 2010

Published in Health

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A story that should be on the front page of every newspaper in America

Read More: Blood pressure, Cardiovascular Disorders, cholesterol, Chronic, Conditions and Diseases, Health, Heart disease, Obesity, United States

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"Mr. Valentine, I'm so, so sorry, but you're going to have to have bypass surgery, and you're going to have it quickly."

When chest pains sent Ronnie to the emergency room in September 2005, those were the words he heard.  Ronnie knew how he had ended up there - years and years of smoking, heavy drinking, a sedentary lifestyle, and the toxic standard American diet.  Ronnie survived the surgery, but not without much pain and grief.

"I can't begin to explain all the images and thoughts that ran through my head as I awaited open heart surgery. The regrets of past actions weighed heavily on my heart.I said a prayer, pictured my wife in my mind, and then closed my eyes...The next thing I recall was the most exhilarating thing I've ever heard: my name! My wife and the nurses were calling my name in the recovery room. I had survived! That joyful moment was overcome with excruciating pain in my back. Then I felt like I was choking to death because of the ventilating tube that was stuck down my throat. The back spasm would not let my lungs expand enough to get a good breath. I was strapped to the bed. I couldn't move for over eight hours while feeling the awful cramping, coupled with the fact that I couldn't breathe. I felt like I'd been buried alive."

Ronnie after bypass surgery

Bypass surgeries like Ronnie's are performed all over the country, every hour of every day - about 450,000 each year in the U.S. But this suffering can be completely avoided with exercise and a phytochemical rich, vegetable-based diet.  Surgery only repairs small portions of specific blood vessels, but excellent nutrition is far more powerful, keeping the entire vasculature clear of atherosclerotic plaque.  Sadly, Ronnie didn't know this yet.  Even more sadly, the dreadful experience of open heart surgery was not enough to make him change his ways.

"Feeling that I had been fixed, I went back to my old routines that had put me in that predicament - smoking 2-4 packs of cigarettes a day, heavy drinking, couch potato living and eating fried foods galore in massive quantities. This continued until I had resolved that I would soon be leaving this earth. In 2008, after a day of heavy drinking and binge eating, I went to bed to 'sleep it off' and I woke up with chest pains. I knew this day would come.  The doctors put 3 stents into one artery, performed balloon angioplasty on another and sent me home with a packet full of prescriptions. I was very depressed because I wanted to live again but was faced with the realization of what I had done to myself."

This ordeal didn't only affect Ronnie - his wife and children were suffering as well.  Ronnie's wife Peggy recalls this dark period in their family's life:

"We were living with a person who was voluntarily and slowly killing himself. I remember telling the kids that I felt strongly their father would not be around much longer.  After his second trip to the hospital for treatment of serious heart disease in three years, we were both at rock bottom."

This was finally the turning point for Ronnie.

"For the first time in my life I saw that it wasn't life that was killing my body, my God it was me. Me and all the poor choices I had been making. I wanted to change, but how?  I knew it all centered around what went in my mouth. That night I woke up with chest pains again and after taking the nitro to make them stop, I decided to look for an answer.  I Googled 'reverse heart disease' and came across  Finally it all made perfect sense. If I ate my way to the destruction of my health, why couldn't I eat my way to restoration and reversal? I quit drinking and smoking, followed Dr. Fuhrman's advice to the letter, and my chest pain ceased.  In one year, I had lost 140 pounds.  I was taking over $600 of medications each month and now I need no medications.  Now I can do heavy weight strength training 4 times a week, do interval cardio training, play tennis, ride a bike - these are all activities I couldn't dream of doing two years ago! I'm fit, healthy, and well!"

Ronnie before and after


July 2008

July 2009


300 lbs.

160 lbs.

Blood pressure

161/110 (on medication)

115/70 (no medication)





41.5 (morbidly obese)

21.7 (healthy)


228 (on medication)

132 (no medication)










Ronnie's wife Peggy is thrilled with his renewed health - she says she finally felt that "I could look forward to a future with the man that I loved the most in the world."

Ronnie now lives life to the fullest and inspires others to do the same - he has won over family members and members of his community, who are now taking responsibility for their health and healing their own heart disease.  Ronnie's advice to others who are struggling to change their habits and heal from heart disease:

"Our journey to optimal health is always in front of our eyes, and we sit at that intersection every new day. Go forward to freedom! Forget past failures and always keep your eyes on the prize of great health and vitality through excellent nutrition.  I highly recommend joining the Member Center of I couldn't have done it without the lifesaving and valuable support from Dr. Fuhrman. He personally answered every question that I had along the way, and his continual guidance and oversight was always reassuring.  Dr. Fuhrman is really there and cares about the health of not only those fortunate enough to be his patients, but the thousands of us who are his readers and web members.  To have a doctor of his caliber at my fingertips via "Ask the Doctor" was by far, my most valuable asset in my battle against heart disease."

Everyone in America needs to know this information.  Even if you already have heart disease, letting go of disease-causing food and embracing unrefined plant foods can reverse heart disease, and protect against the other devastating chronic diseases that plague Americans as they age.

Visit Dr. Fuhrman's website