Harvard Heart Letter

Heart Beat: Ornish, Pritikin get Medicare okay for cardiac rehab

Cardiac rehabilitation has long been the neglected stepchild in the cardiovascular therapy family. Changes in Medicare could help bring it into the fold. Regulations that went into effect in 2010 establish a new benefit for intensive cardiac rehabilitation programs that meet strict criteria set out by Medicare. Under these new rules, Medicare announced in September 2010 that it will pay for intensive diet and exercise cardiovascular rehab programs offered by the Pritikin Center and by Dr. Dean Ornish.

Neither is a newcomer. The Pritikin program started out as a diet in the 1950s and added exercise later. The Ornish program has included diet, exercise, stress management, and group support from its beginnings in the 1980s.

Medicare made the decision after a multiyear review to make sure the programs met its requirements and actually improved cardiovascular outcomes, including reduced need for future bypass surgery or angioplasty; better blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and weight; and less smoking.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »