WVU Hospitals’ open house to feature Ornish program to reverse heart disease

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia University Hospitals invites the public to learn how the Dr. Dean Ornish Program has helped thousands of people reverse heart disease.  An Ornish open house is scheduled for Thursday, May 22, from 5 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at Ruby Memorial Hospital’s fourth floor cafeteria.

The Ornish program combines a low-fat vegetarian diet, moderate aerobic exercise, stress management and group support in an effort to reduce chest pain, coronary artery blockages and cholesterol levels.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death among men and women in West Virginia and the United States – killing approximately 7,000 West Virginians each year.

“The Ornish program is a lifestyle modification program that enables participants to slow, stop and reverse many of the symptoms of coronary artery disease,” Dave Harshbarger, WVU Hospitals Wellness Program director, said.  “Many people are able to avoid invasive procedures, such as bypass surgery and angioplasty, and stave off first or repeat heart attacks or strokes.”

The Ornish Program’s components help improve blood flow through the heart muscle and exercise capacity.  Participants also enjoy a sense of well being and satisfaction with life, according to Harshbarger.

Candidates for the program include:

> People who are contemplating bypass surgery or angioplasty but seeking an alternative that may reduce the need for these procedures.

> People who have previously experienced one or more heart procedures and want to minimize the chances of repeating them.

> People diagnosed with coronary artery disease (angina or past heart attacks).

> People with significant risk factors for heart disease, such as high cholesterol levels and a strong family history.

People insured through PEIA and Blue Cross/Blue Shield plans may qualify for coverage.

“All of our current participants have lost weight and dropped overall body fat,” Harshbarger said. “Their cholesterol levels have gone down and their perceived stress has decreased dramatically.”

A staff of trained healthcare professionals runs the program at WVUH.

“The Ornish Program is a change in diet, attitude and lifestyle,” Harshbarger said. “People learn how to eat properly and adopt healthy behaviors to stop sabotaging themselves. They get back in control and start doing activities that many of them thought were lost forever.  But the best news is that even for people with documented heart disease, it’s not too late.”

Ornish-friendly appetizers and refreshments will be served.  For more information on the Ornish Program, call (304) 293-2520 or visit www.hsc.wvu.edu/wellness/ornish.

- WVU -

For more information:
Cassie Waugh, HSC News Service (304)293-7087
dh: 05-19-08

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