This piece, about a senior couple with family histories of catastrophic heart disease, illustrates the combination of personal life factors and the availability of remunerated service that can accelerate adoption of integrative therapies and healthy outcomes for such interventions.
In this report, simply wanting to live long enough to enjoy grandchildren motivated a couple to consider the plant-based, meatless diet, exercise and stress reduction regimen. CNN reports that together the couple has lost a total of 85 pounds, and that the husband is no longer taking four medications.
That kind of result is not “new” to the many practitioners who have been bringing patients into similar cardio health programs. What is new is the place for such treatments in Medicare, which means a place in a recognized, trackable and accountable national federal health program.
The Ornish program, while described in terms of intensive rehab for Medicare purposes, is entitled The Dean Ornish Program for Reversing Heart Disease. Reversal is a potent notion for intransigent illnesses like heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the US. Other integrative health physicians in the public eye like Mark Hyman, MD, assert similar lifestyle-centric interventions may reverse related conditions such as diabetes.
The Ornish program was adopted by Medicare in 2010 and first patients began treatments in 2011. It is far too early to assess the full measure of its effects on patient health, quality of life, longevity and comparative costs.