A Personal Story of Healing through Ornish Lifestyle Medicine

A Personal Story of Healing:

Ornish Lifestyle Medicine™ transforms retired pastor’s life
Complications from high blood pressure, diabetes and weight control caught up with Eldon Stoltzfus, Goshen, when he was standing in a buffet line in March. He collapsed and was taken to Goshen Hospital’s Emergency Room.

Eldon needed three stents to open blocked arteries and restore blood flow to his body. His Interventional Cardiologist Abdul Basit, MD, at Goshen Heart & Vascular Center also recommended cardiac rehabilitation to help lower Eldon’s risk for future heart problems. Unfortunately, cardiac rehabilitation had to be postponed due to COVID-19. When cardiac rehabilitation services were resumed, Eldon enrolled in Ornish Lifestyle Medicine.

For nine weeks, the program focuses on exercise, stress management, group support and nutrition to address the root causes of heart disease. The nutrition component of the Ornish program incorporates a whole-food, plant-based plan abundant in nutrient-rich whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes and limited amounts of nuts, seeds and nonfat dairy products.

“This was a major lifestyle change for me,” said the retired pastor. “I was a kid on a farm, and meat was part of every meal of the day.”

To help participants succeed, spouses are invited to attend the Ornish sessions on nutrition and food preparation. Rachel Stoltzfus noted that their years of living in Haiti on a diet rich in rice and beans helped them make the transition to meat-free eating.

In addition to the change in diet and exercise, Eldon now practices yoga for an hour every day to help manage stress.

Five weeks into the program, Eldon’s numbers show marked improvement: his total cholesterol went from 147 to 94; his triglycerides dropped from 111 to 51; and his heart ejection fraction (which measures the percent of blood being pumped out with each contraction) went from 25 to 60 percent.

He’s lost 10 pounds and knows he’ll lose more. His blood sugar level dropped to its lowest in over a decade.

“This program has made me feel more positive, more resilient and more clear-headed,” Eldon said.

Eldon Stoltzfus and his wife Rachel appreciate the health benefits of following the Ornish Lifestyle Program.


What Goshen Heart & Vascular Center offers

From one end of the continuum to the other, the center offers preventive and diagnostic care to the very best heart attack and limb salvage care. Goshen Heart & Vascular Center offers cardiac, vascular, pulmonary, and sleep rehabilitation to help patients recover, as well as a device clinic (for those with a pacemaker or defibrillator) and a blood-thinning medicine clinic to monitor and adjust patients’ prescriptions.

Goshen Heart & Vascular Center is part of Goshen Health, a community-owned, nonprofit healthcare organization committed to improving the health of its communities. The health system includes 35 locations across four counties with specialized cancer care; orthopedics and sports medicine; and a physician’s network with primary and specialty care.