In Reversing Chronic Illness
Personalized, thorough, supported lifestyle approaches let compromised systems return to healthy functioning
One of the most important effects of whole-person diagnosis and treatment that characterizes integrative healthcare turns out to be its impact on chronic conditions that were long thought to be irreversible. Through research and clinical treatment experienced since the 1990’s innovative doctors who began including complementary therapies and treating the root causes of illness have learned that some of the most debilitating conditions — notably Type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease — can in fact be reversed.
Perhaps the best example of this is the “Program for Reversing Heart Disease” developed by Dean Ornish, MD, of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute. After more than two decades of his publishing on successful results, in 2011 Medicare approved the program for reimbursement. A physician-led team that includes a nurse, yoga instructor, exercise physiologist, clinical psychologist and registered dietician organizes a comprehensive lifestyle adjustment that gives patients control.
What follows is a summary of a study conducted by Highmark BlueCross Blue Shield that shows the improvement in many health indicators for patients treated with the program. (The complete study report can be found here.)
Patients: Almost 4,000 with heart disease
Locations: Pennsylvania, Nebraska and West Virginia
Study concluded in 2011.
Patient attendance after 1 year: 87.9%.
45.2% of these patients had heart disease:
34.0% had Type 2 diabetes,
The others had only risk factors (high blood pressure, cholesterol, or weight),
Adherence was comparable in all categories of patients (85-90%) after 1 year.
Weight loss for the average patient:
13.3 pounds in the first 12 weeks
15.9 pounds after 1 year.
Biometric Indicators: Significant reductions after 12 weeks and remained after one year.
systolic blood pressure
diastolic blood pressure
Exercise Capacity: Increases:
After 12 weeks: from 8.7 to 10.6 METS (an 18% increase)
After one year: to 10.8 METS (a 24% increase).
Depression and hostility: Significant reductions after 12 weeks and remained so after 1 year.
(These are the emotions most strongly linked with heart disease.)
Hemoglobin A1C decreased:
From 7.4% at baseline to 6.5% after 12 weeks
To 6.8% after one year
NOTE: Complications of diabetes such as blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, and amputations can be prevented when hemoglobin A1C is less than 7.0%.
Chest Pain (angina): Reductions: 96.5% of patients reported significantly reduced pain after 1 year.
These findings show the power of comprehensive, supported lifestyle change, the capacity of the human body to return to good health, and how quickly changes can take place. These results also give millions of people around the world new hope that restored good health is attainable, not only through greater care and compassion but with great competence and in a more cost effective way.
Health systems offering Ornish Programs
please visit the Ornish Spectrum site
St. Joseph Health
St. Jude Medical Center
Fullerton, CA 92385
Los Angles, CA 20095
Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital
Arlington, TX 76012
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital
Plano, TX 75093
St. Dominic-Jackson Memorial Hospital
Jackson, MS 39216
St. Vincent Healthcare
Jacksonville FL 32204
Beacon – Elkhart General Hospital
Elkhart, IN 46514
Beacon – Memorial Hospital of South Bend
South Bend, IN 46601
Medical Center Jewish Northeast
Louisville, KY 40245
Charleston Area Medical Center
Charleston, WV 25304
West Virginia University Healthcare
Morgantown, WVA 26506
Lyndhurst OH 44124
UPMC Hamot – Dean Ornish Program
Erie, PA 16508
Chambers Center of Well Being
Atlantic Health System
Morristown, NJ 07960
Lewes, DE 19958