Truth: You Can Reverse Heart Disease, Derrick Did

See how the Intensive Cardiac Rehab Program at National Jewish Health ǀ Saint Joseph Hospital helped Derrick significantly improve his health and happiness.


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Kelly McDonough, RN, BSN — Intensive Cardiac Rehab is the first scientifically proven program to actually reverse heart disease.

Andrew Freeman, MD — Intensive Cardiac Rehab is designed for people who have had cardiac events, bypass stents, heart surgery. This program is not selling snake oil or anything crazy. We are literally selling a lifestyle approach that is really simple and probably the way we were intended to live.

Derrick Walker — It works. It actually works. It has benefits that you can see pretty quickly from: being happier because I’m healthier, I feel better, I’m able to do more with my family, and I’m able to produce more for work so I’m all around better.

Kelly McDonough, RN, BSN — Intensive Cardiac Rehab is a comprehensive program using four elements: exercise, nutrition, stress management and love and support. Participants can expect to come in and do aerobic exercise. We’re trying to get them motivated to want to exercise they’re own when they’re not here with us once they leave our program.

Derrick Walker — I do something active everyday, walking or bike riding. I’ve seen quite a bit of improvement with that, and I feel pretty good about it.

Cole Adam, RD — The diet we recommend is a low fat, plant-based, whole foods diet. The overall evidence is pretty clear that type of diet can not only prevent and treat heart disease, but can actually reverse it.

Derrick Walker — I’m okay with being a vegan. I enjoy how it makes me feel. I don’t think I will go back to something that takes away from that.

Cheryl Spriggs — Stress is unavoidable. We all have stress, but it’s a matter of how we deal with it. Here we teach participants how to reduce their stress through gentle stretching, through breathing exercises and gentle yoga poses.

Derrick Walker — It prepared me to opt out of doing bad things for myself when I would get stressed like eating or drinking or worrying myself to death.

Cheryl Spriggs — I love that in this program I see people come in and start practicing, they start meditating and realize they really enjoy it. It makes them feel better, almost instantly.

Stacy Forget, LPC — The need for love and connection is just as important as the need for food, shelter and water. We help the participants learn how to open their hearts metaphorically, become more emotionally connected with themselves and other people in their lives.

Derrick Walker — We were put in a group where nobody knew anybody else. As the program progressed, it forced us to have interaction with each other and then after we let down our guards then we really developed very good relationships with each other.

Stacy Forget, LPC — After being in the support group for a few weeks you can see the joy that people start feel when they realize they’re not alone.

Cheryl Spriggs — The staff here is living this lifestyle themselves so we can answer questions, we’re here for support, the participants are here to support each other.

Stacy Forget, LPC — All of us can relate to making a change in our life and difference we felt when we felt supported in making the change and when we didn’t feel supported. One really key part of this program that is different than many other lifestyle change programs is the support that is provided after the nine weeks. It’s really important to the staff here as well as to the Ornish team that our folks continue on with this for the rest of their lives and the alumni community creates a network of support and resources that will carry you through as long as you want to use it.

Andrew Freeman, MD — Do you want to be miserable on a lot of medications and having chest pain all the time or instead do you want to be vibrant and dancing and enjoying your grandkids or great grandkids, whatever it may be? The amazing thing about this program is that it’s only two months, but it show people how to live for a lifetime.

Derrick Walker — The gift of life is something that you would appreciate even more with this program. If living longer is what you want than this program is what you need.

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