Innovative Practice Highlight: Heart Path

February 5, 2020

Heart Path® is a Mission Health service that is a state and nationally certified, comprehensive program of cardiac rehabilitation. It helps patients look at risk factors that cause heart disease and design a plan of care to lower their risks for future heart problems.

Heart Path Provides:

  • A medically supervised exercise program that helps patients return to daily activities and decrease their risk for heart disease
  • Education about personal risk factors
  • Regular reports to Primary Care Physicians
  • Family involvement 
  • A personal recovery plan 
  • Ornish Lifestyle Medicine™

This Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation program brings about its life-changing results by helping participants adopt and sustain lifestyle changes in four areas of their lives: what they eat; how active they are; how they respond to stress; and how much love and support they have in their lives. By optimizing these four elements, the program empowers them to minimize their reliance on medications, avoid future surgeries and, most importantly, retake control of their health.

The Ornish Lifestyle Medicine program is scientifically proven to:

  • Reduce the risk of heart-related events
  • Decrease the frequency and severity of chest discomfort
  • Lower the likelihood of future surgery
  • Lessen dependence on medications
  • Lower cholesterol, improve blood pressure and bring about weight loss
  • Increase capacity for exercise 

Participants experience the Ornish Lifestyle Medicine program within a small and consistent group of peers, all of whom share the common goal of reversing their heart disease and improving their well-being. Each group of participants is led by an unchanging team of clinicians, who—over the course of 72 hours—help participants reverse the progression of their heart disease.

Sometimes, patients are discharged from the hospital after a cardiac event without a real understanding of what they should do next to reduce their likelihood of future cardiovascular events. Heart Path recommends that Primary Care Physicians ask their patients when you see them following a cardiac event if they are familiar with cardiac rehab and if they plan to enroll. Here is a list of qualifying diagnoses:

  • An acute myocardial infarction within the preceding 12 months;
  • A coronary artery bypass surgery;
  • Current stable angina pectoris;
  • Heart valve repair or replacement;
  • Percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty or coronary stenting;
  • A heart or heart-lung transplant;
  • Stable, chronic heart failure defined as patients with left ventricular ejection fraction of 35% or less
  • New York Heart Association (NYHA) class II to IV symptoms despite being on optimal heart failure therapy for at least 6 weeks (Effective February 9, 2018) 

Patients enrolled in Ornish cardiac rehab have experienced as much as a 90% reduction in angina compared to a >150% INCREASE in angina in patients on “optimal medical therapy” over 5 years! Reducing heart failure readmission is a major goal for every hospital system in the US. 

Click here to read an article by NPR about the reasons behind why more patients aren't signing up for cardiac rehab programs, despite their proven efficacy to save lives. 

Click here to learn more about Heart Path and Click here to learn about different options for cardiac rehabiltation programs available in Western North Carolina! 

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