October 22, 2018

Lifestyle Medicine Challenge: Reverse Chronic Diseases

Dave & Cindy Foster with daughter Shelby. - submitted photo

Dave & Cindy Foster with daughter Shelby.

submitted photo

The American College of Lifestyle Medicine is holding it’s annual conference in Indianapolis this week. The organization of physicians is challenging the public and healthcare industry to address the root cause of chronic disease – lifestyles. 

Dave Foster of South Bend was told he needed a heart transplant three years ago. He'd already had a heart attack and by-pass surgery but was again short of breath and suffering from chest pain.

"My heart function was down to 40-42 percent - 55-70 percent being normal," Foster says. "I couldn't take the garbage to the curb without chest pain and shortness of breath."

Foster was enrolled in the lifestyle-based Ornish Reversal Program at Beacon Health. 

“Within 60 days, when I got down to Indianapolis to I.U., they did a test and my heart function was back up to 55," Foster says. "They were like, “Why are you here? You don’t need a heart transplant.”

Foster says the Ornish participants met for nine weeks on Tuesdays and Thursdays for four hours. They'd exercise, do yoga and meditation, learn about eating a plant-based diet and participate in a support group. 

Eskenazi Health hospital opened a Lifestyle Medicine clinic this past January to address chronic diseases and change the focus to health. CEO Dr. Lisa Harris says, "What's exciting is how the choices individuals make can prevent and, in many cases, reverse chronic diseases." Harris emphasizes those choices must be available to everyone in the community. Harris also looks foward to the day when the term "alternative medicine" can be reserved for the use of drugs, devices, and procedures.

While the Ornish Reversal Program was phased out at Beacon Health in South Bend this past August, Goshen Health is picking it up in January. Columbus Regional Health also offers a lifestyle-based intensive cardiac rehab program called Pritikin.

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