Benefits and costs of intensive lifestyle modification programs for symptomatic coronary disease in Medicare beneficiaries

Am Heart J. 2013 May;165(5):785-92. doi: 10.1016/j.ahj.2013.01.018. Epub 2013 Mar 1.


Background: This study reports outcomes of a Medicare-sponsored demonstration of two intensive lifestyle modification programs (LMPs) in patients with symptomatic coronary heart disease: the Cardiac Wellness Program of the Benson-Henry Mind Body Institute (MBMI) and the Dr Dean Ornish Program for Reversing Heart Disease® (Ornish).

Methods: This multisite demonstration, conducted between 2000 and 2008, enrolled Medicare beneficiaries who had had an acute myocardial infarction or a cardiac procedure within the preceding 12 months or had stable angina pectoris. Health and economic outcomes are compared with matched controls who had received either traditional or no cardiac rehabilitation following similar cardiac events. Each program included a 1-year active intervention of exercise, diet, small-group support, and stress reduction. Medicare claims were used to examine 3-year outcomes. The analysis includes 461 elderly, fee-for-service, Medicare participants and 1,795 controls.

Results: Cardiac and non-cardiac hospitalization rates were lower in participants than controls in each program and were statistically significant in MBMI (P < .01). Program costs of $3,801 and $4,441 per participant for the MBMI and Ornish Programs, respectively, were offset by reduced health care costs yielding non-significant three-year net savings per participant of about $3,500 in MBMI and $1,000 in Ornish. A trend towards lower mortality compared with controls was observed in MBMI participants (P = .07).

Conclusions: Intensive, year-long LMPs reduced hospitalization rates and suggest reduced Medicare costs in elderly beneficiaries with symptomatic coronary heart disease.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Coronary Artery Disease / economics
  • Coronary Artery Disease / rehabilitation*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Fee-for-Service Plans / economics*
  • Female
  • Health Expenditures / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospitalization / economics*
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Medicare / economics*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United States