Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, killing more people than all forms of cancer combined, and the American Heart Association reports nearly half of Americans have some form of cardiovascular disease. Fortunately, in the vast majority of cases, it’s possible to prevent heart disease or halt its progression by making simple diet and lifestyle changes—and Forks Over Knives has published hundreds of real-life success stories by people who have done just that. In celebration of American Heart Month, we’re highlighting some of our favorite heart-health success stories that we’ve published over the years. If you’re struggling with cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol, we hope that you’ll take heart in these inspiring accounts.

Have you experienced improvements to your health after adopting a whole-food, plant-based diet? Share your own success story here!

A Life-Threatening Stroke Spurred Me to Try a Plant-Based Diet, and I’ve Never Looked Back

When Mike Lewis first saw Forks Over Knives, he wasn’t moved. “How could you live without meat?” he wondered. A few years later, after surviving a stroke, he opened up to the idea of changing his diet, and with the help of his family made the switch to WFPB. “I was feeling well enough to go mountain biking within a week on my new diet,” writes Lewis. “This was just three weeks after my stroke.”

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From Cheese-Loving Vegetarian with Sky-High Blood Pressure to Whole-Food, Plant-Based and Healthy

Anurag Darshan knew that cutting back on dairy would help bring down his elevated cholesterol and blood pressure, two of the leading risk factors for heart disease, but he struggled to find motivation to make the change. After he was diagnosed with fatty liver disease and his hypertension became severe, a friend suggested that he watch Forks Over Knives. That’s when he decided to finally kick dairy and try a whole-food, plant-based diet. “After eight months, my doctor found that there was no need for me to continue taking blood pressure medications or cholesterol-lowering medications,” says Darshan.

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Eating “All Things in Moderation” Ravaged My Athletic Husband’s Arteries

On the surface, Rachel and Tony Schiera were active and healthy, logging hundreds of miles on bike trips and eating what they thought was a good diet. It wasn’t until unexplained symptoms landed Tony in the ER that they discovered he had extensive atherosclerosis. The buildup of plaque in Tony’s arteries was so severe that he had to undergo emergency coronary artery bypass surgery. Determined to make a change, Rachel began researching dietary solutions for heart disease and came across the whole-food, plant-based diet. They both went all in. “His blood pressure, which had been borderline high for a couple years, improved each day, until the doctors had to take him off of his blood pressure medications because he was getting hypotensive,” writes Rachel.

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I Went Plant-Based to Avoid Needing Statins. The Results Have Been Incredible

Concerned by her high cholesterol and high blood pressure, Mary Snyder’s cardiologist wanted her to start taking statins. She asked for a little time to see if she could lower it without medication. While researching the best diet for heart disease, she discovered the WFPB way of eating and decided to give it a try. Within six months, she shaved nearly 50 points off her cholesterol, lowered her blood pressure, and lost 60 pounds. “My doctor is happy, and there is no need to return to the cardiologist or take statins,” writes Snyder.

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I Went Vegan After Cardiac Arrest Nearly Killed Me

Ken MacLeod had just completed a 5K when he felt himself begin to lose consciousness. The next thing he knew, he was waking up in an ambulance: Against staggering odds, he’d survived cardiac arrest. While MacLeod was recovering in the hospital, a friend gave him two books: The China Study and Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. He began to transition to a low-fat vegan diet. The results were swift. “Three months after my heart incident, I had lost 35 pounds, and my cholesterol and triglyceride numbers were cut by well over half from what they were when I had my cardiac arrest,” writes MacLeod.

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I Use Less Insulin, Got off Statins, and Lost 50 Pounds on a Plant-Based Diet

At just 30 years old, Yvonne McGill had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetic retinopathy, and a variety of other health issues. When she discovered a WFPB diet, she was immediately willing to give it a try. “I ate whole grains, beans, and all the vegetables I could find,” writes McGill. “Within three months, I lost 20 pounds. My cholesterol stabilized, so my doctor took me off of the statin medication.”

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What Giving Up Meat, Dairy, and Processed Foods Did for My BMI, Blood Pressure, and Cholesterol

At just 25 years old, a lifetime on the standard American diet left Brittany Jaroudi with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and extremely high hs-CRP (high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation and cardiovascular disease risk). She started researching ways to improve her heart health and came across the Forks Over Knives documentary.I immediately went plant-based,” says Jaroudi. “Since that day … I have lost 60 pounds; I no longer have high cholesterol (150 total); I no longer have high blood pressure (110/70); my resting heart rate is 60; and my hs-CRP is in the normal range!”

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I Put High Cholesterol and Severe Arthritis Behind Me on a Plant-Based Diet

Bill McGrail was struggling with high cholesterol, painful arthritis in both knees, and unwanted weight when his wife suggested that they watch Forks Over Knives. Afterward, they went plant-based overnight. “In less than two months, my cholesterol dropped 104 points, and, as a nice side benefit, I lost 18 pounds,” writes McGrail.

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A Plant-Based Diet Cut My LDL Cholesterol in Half

John Brown already intended to go whole-food, plant-based; then, at an annual physical, he found out that his total cholesterol was 350. “I’d never seen a cholesterol number that high,” writes Brown. Wanting to make sure that he’d be around to see his kids grow up, he firmly resolved to go all in on a WFPB diet. Since making the switch, Brown took 130 points off his total cholesterol and cut his LDL in half.

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I Suffered a Widowmaker Heart Attack at 45. Today I’m Thriving on a Plant-Based Diet

After having a near-fatal heart attack, Shane Brooks went from being the type of guy who made fun of vegans to adopting a plant-based diet overnight. “Three months after starting the WFPB way of eating … my total cholesterol had decreased from 217 to 124, with my LDL cholesterol decreasing from 161 to 63,” Brooks writes. “It took 90 days to reverse a lifetime of awful eating and horrible health.”

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After a Heart Attack and Bypass at 40, This Doctor Changed His Lifestyle and Reversed His Heart Disease

When his sons were just toddlers, Rajiv Misquitta, MD, suffered a heart attack. A month later, he was again rushed to the ER with chest pains, and he had to undergo quintuple bypass surgery. “The best drugs and surgical procedures seem to, at best, delay the progression of heart disease,” writes Misquitta. Not content with this prognosis, he dug into research on the connections between diet and disease, reading The China Study by T. Colin Campbell, PhD. The science convinced him to adopt a WFPB diet. “I lost 25 pounds following this lifestyle change, and my LDL cholesterol went from 130 to 58,” writes Misquitta.

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Vegan CrossFit athlete Briana Jones deadlifting weights in a gym as she prepares to compete in the Mr America competition as part of the Vegan Strong Plantbuilt team
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