PITTSBURGH, March 12 A study released this month in the American Journal of Health Promotion demonstrated that significant improvements in cardiac health have been achieved by Highmark members participating in the Dr. Dean Ornish Program for Reversing Heart Disease, a one-year intensive cardiac rehabilitation program. The study was conducted by Highmark and the Preventive Medicine Research Institute, a nonprofit research institute founded by Dr. Dean Ornish.
Ornish program participants showed statistically significant improvements in body mass index, triglyceride levels, cholesterol levels, blood pressure and more. The program also proved to be practical and sustainable for members as 88 percent of participants remained in the program after 12 weeks, and 78 percent of participants completed the program.
"Coronary artery disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and costs more than $100 billion to treat annually," said Dr. Donald Fischer, senior vice president and chief medical officer at Highmark Inc. "This study demonstrates that the Ornish program has improved the health status and quality of life for our members in the program."
In 1997, Highmark became the first insurer in the country to provide and pay for the Dr. Dean Ornish Program for Reversing Heart Disease, which is a non-invasive treatment option that combines four components to slow, stop and even reverse the progression of coronary artery disease. This option includes stress management, moderate exercise, group support and a low-fat, whole-foods nutrition plan.
"As health care costs for coronary artery disease patients continue to escalate, lifestyle-based preventive interventions such as the Ornish program demonstrate success and offer a less-invasive, more cost-effective and sustainable solution than conventional cardiac surgery for some people," said Fischer.
The study included 2,241 men and women from nine different hospital sites in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Included in the group of experts that contributed to this study were Highmark representatives Anna Silberman, M.P.H., Joli Studley, M.S. and Dennis Hareras, D.C.
As one of the leading health insurers in Pennsylvania, Highmark Inc.'s mission is to provide access to affordable, quality health care enabling individuals to live longer, healthier lives. Based in Pittsburgh, Highmark serves 4.8 million people through the company's health care benefits business. Highmark contributes millions of dollars to help keep quality health care programs affordable and to support community-based programs that work to improve people's health. Highmark exerts an enormous economic impact throughout Pennsylvania. A recent study states that Highmark's positive impact exceeded $2.5 billion. The company provides the resources to give its members a greater hand in their health.
Highmark Inc. is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans. For more information, visit www.highmark.com.
SOURCE Highmark Inc.