By Marilyn Tinnin

Reverse Heart Disease


Kitchen Tune-Up



St. Dominic’s now offers a proven lifestyle program that is professionally gratifying, emotionally satisfying, and economically rewarding.

The cost of healthcare has been among the top five most discussed issues in American life over the past decade. Innovation and miracle drugs have given us options our ancestors would never have dreamed. But maybe we have depended a little too much on modern day medicine to “undo” the consequences of some of our less than wise choices! Sometimes we overlook simple solutions because we are so programmed to look for relief only through drugs or surgery.

Year after year we read that Heart Disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Approximately $60 billion dollars a year is spent on angioplasty and stent procedures and about $40 billion on bypass surgery. As wonderful as these procedures are, they are not a cure. Did you know that almost 95% of cardiac disease is preventable? Would you choose bypass surgery to the tune of about $100,000+ if you could avoid it and simply make a few changes in your lifestyle that were low-tech, inexpensive, and measurable in their outcome?

Dr. Dean Ornish is a physician, president and founder of the non-profit Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, California. He is also a Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Over 36 years ago, he began research through several leading academic institutions using state-of-the-art measures following cardiac patients. There were two distinct groups in the randomized controlled trials—those who followed the Ornish treatment plan and those who did not.

The studies were published again and again in leading peer-reviewed medical journals with dramatic results. In time even the National Institute of Health and the insurance industry took note of Ornish’s findings. After 16 years of review, Medicare is now covering Dr. Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease™. The proof of positive health outcomes, as well as health care decreased costs, have made the Ornish Reversal Program a huge cause for celebration by patients, their families, and those who treat them!

St. Dominic’s launched their first group of participants (known as cohorts) on January 27 of this year. Prior to that launch, all of the staff that would be delivering in the Ornish Reversal Program spent a week in California training and experiencing the 72-hour course for their selves. Sean Maily, St. Dominic Director of the Ornish Reversal Program, had such a positive experience with the training that he has continued to adhere to the program. He has dropped about 15 pounds in the past three months, but he is quick to advise that the full benefits of the Ornish plan occur only when a participant embraces all four components. Many of those, even the skeptics, become fans and followers when they not only lose weight, but they feel better and are able to either reduce or eliminate many of their prescriptions for cardiac-related symptoms.

Hummus-Recipe-Purple-BoxThe four elements of the Ornish Reversal Program involve physical activity, nutrition (primarily but not exclusively plant-based), stress management, and group support. As Maily says, “This sets the program apart from many others that emphasize diet and exercise alone.” Even those who initially balk at the notion of group support as key to overall health begin to sing the praises of such an approach as they experience its effect.

Mike Howard, a double-bypass patient and recent graduate of the Ornish Reversal Program, is 68 years old. He had never really exercised, smoked at least a pack of cigarettes a day before his surgery, and had a job overseeing fast-food restaurants!

When he signed on to the Ornish program, he had no idea what to expect, but he went in with an open mind. The thought of giving up meat disturbed him a bit in the beginning. What does a man who makes his living selling hamburgers do? He toughed it out briefly and quickly realized that the program offers so many really appealing substitutes that he adjusted quickly and never looked back. Since January he has dropped 22 pounds, gotten off one of his blood pressure meds, and feels absolutely wonderful. “I would recommend this to everyone,” he says.

Ronnie Russom is another cohort who recently completed the program. He had a heart attack in 1997 and had a stent inserted then and another in the same artery in 2005. His cardiologist told him not so long ago that he has several small arteries going to his heart that are severely blocked. He decided to try Ornish, and he is now a converted believer! He admits that some parts of the program were hard at first, but he knew he had to give it a try because the situation was pretty serious.

“Getting used to no meat, no caffeine, as well as learning what to eat and not eat, is a journey into uncharted territory.” He says that it was very difficult at the beginning for him, but he also says that the weight loss and the fact that he was able to cut his blood pressure meds in half inspired him to continue. He is committed.

Kevin Carter is a heart attack survivor. He calls the Ornish program a little “hard” but not in the way you would think. He easily accepted the diet and he was so glad to get back into exercise. The supervision that came with his rehab kept him from being afraid he would jeopardize the heart that was healing.

It was the group support that seemed difficult in the beginning because he is one of those tough guys who “holds everything in.” He was one who found great benefit in the group support. As he says, “The power of group sharing spilled over into the rest of my life. My wife and I were able to talk about things in a way we never had before.” He simply felt lighter in every way. Sticking to Ornish is not in the least bit hard now that he has experienced the benefits.

Potential cardiac patients who are prime candidates include Medicare beneficiaries with admitting diagnoses of one (or more) of the following: heart attack within the last 12 months, coronary artery bypass surgery, stable angina (chest pain), heart valve repair or replacement, coronary angioplasty or stent placement. Maily says, “We also have seen other insurance programs in other areas of the country cover based on risk factors, but that is not available in any payers in our area yet. Because they are concerned about their cardiac history or risk, there are some participants that actually do a self-pay option to ‘head off heart disease at the pass.’”
If you would like more information, go to or call 601-200-UNDO (601.200.8636).


Pro-Life Mississippi