Dr. Dean Ornish Program Patient Stories

Rick Stoutamyer

Age: 58
Date: Fall 2011

In August 2010, I underwent procedures to remove blockages in two main arteries – one known as the widow-maker. I chose to participate in the Ornish Program. It was the best choice I ever made. The four components of the program saved my life. You can turn things around as much as you want. The professional staff at the program are there for you each step of the way. I remember looking out the fifth-floor window after my procedure and seeing the UPMC Hamot 10K going on below. I vowed once I got into the Ornish Program that I would be on the other side of that window a year later. I was confident about my ability to eat differently and exercise. I was skeptical about group support and stress management. I took the leap of faith and participated 100% to see how this program could help. I wasn’t open to holistic approaches such as yoga and relaxation; however, I learned I really underestimated those parts in my life. I trained and eventually completed the UPMC Hamot 10K one year after I had my heart attack. When I reached the finish line, I went to my wife. We looked up at that fifth floor window and realized it was truly a milestone for me.

Mabel Wiles

Age: 52
Date: Winter 2010

In my 52 years on this Earth, I have been dieting for 42 of them. The day I began the Ornish Program I was carrying 342 pounds on my 5’5” frame. I had high blood pressure, prediabetes, and sleep apnea. My life consisted of eating, sleeping, sitting, or lying down. Any long-term change starts with tapping into what motivates you. I was driven by a desire to play an active role in my granddaughter’s life and not suffer the same fate as my brother who died of heart disease at a young age. Change has not been easy. Overcoming misconceptions about food was important for me. The stress management and relaxation parts of the program have been critical. My first victory was the day I was able to get up off my yoga mat on my own. Previously, I needed the assistance of two of my classmates. One year later, I have lost 94 pounds and am very active. I would equate this program to climbing a mountain – the beginning is the “uphill” portion, the most challenging part, but once you get to the top, the view is breathtaking and life-altering. I’m really glad I did it.

*This patient experienced atypical results from the Dr. Dean Ornish Program. Read about typical results.

Clyde Davis

Age: 58
Date: Fall 2009

I have always tried to be careful in the volume and types of food I ate and to exercise regularly. A heart event requiring the installation of two stents changed my perceptions of my health in February of 2009. Heart rehab and medications were somewhat reassuring that I could lead a healthier lifestyle. My family doctor recommended that I sign up for the Dr. Dean Ornish Program. As I attended Ornish “boot camp,” I was instructed and mentored through a life change that would have been very difficult (if not impossible) without their help. I am now a vegetarian, managing my stress more effectively, more intentional about my connections with other people, and exercising in a more structured and systematic way. I am 25 pounds lighter and have more energy without caffeine! My overall cholesterol is now at 112 (and only seven months after a high of 201 just before my stents were installed). I wholeheartedly recommend the Dr. Dean Ornish Program for Reversing Heart Disease.

Danita Angelotti

Age: 39
Date: Winter 2009

I am a 39-year-old mother of two young children, ages 5 and 7. I have been on blood pressure medication since I was just 17 years old. Last summer, my 5-year-old wanted to play dodge ball with me in the yard, and I was unable to keep up with him. That was very upsetting and frustrating for me. After seeing a close friend and co-worker go through the Ornish Program, I decided that the time was right for me to take control and make significant, positive changes for my health. By the time I began the Ornish Program in November of last year, I weighed 208 pounds, with blood pressure that ran high even on my medicine and total cholesterol of over 250 – all this, and I’m not even 40!

So with much trepidation, I enrolled in the Ornish Program. What I thought would be overwhelming and intimidating has turned out to be one of the very best things I have ever done! The staff is fully supportive and encouraging through all aspects of the program. Each expert is truly that – an expert in his or her field. Where other programs TELL you what you should do, or advise you to READ about what you should do, the Ornish Program offers hands-on tools and SHOWS me what I need to do. Step by step, bite by bite, there are people by my side to encourage, admonish, and cheer me on.

Today, not quite four months after the start of the program, I have seen considerable progress. I have lost 30 pounds, and my blood pressure meds have been reduced dramatically (one med has been discontinued completely; the other is now a half dose). While the food aspect seems to be the major issue for many people at first, I can honestly say that I thoroughly enjoy the food that I eat. I have enjoyed learning to cook new ways, and I REALLY like knowing that I am eating foods that contribute to my health and well-being. The exercise, stress management, and group support aspects of the program have proven invaluable to me. I never imagined that I would see the day where I WANTED to exercise!

All of this to say that, from a participant standpoint, I would highly recommend the Dean Ornish Program not only to heart patients, but to those who, like me, are walking the path toward heart disease. How empowering it has been to realize that I may well be pre-empting heart disease so that I can look forward to an active, vibrant rest of my life!

    ©  UPMC  |   Contact UPMC  |   Disclaimer  |   Privacy Notice  |   Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions  |  Privacy and Breach Alerts