Pritikin: Reducing your chances of having a second heart attack

When Linda Scheidt, 60, had a respiratory infection last winter, she went to her doctor and learned something surprising, not about her breathing, but about her heart. She had a thoracic aortic aneurysm (TAA), a condition that causes a weakened area in the aorta—the body’s largest artery that passes through the chest—to balloon.

Like many people with TAAs, Scheidt had no symptoms. But as a registered nurse case manager, she knew how serious her condition was: “It was a blessing it was discovered or it could have been a life-threatening situation.”

Scheidt underwent open-heart surgery to repair the aneurysm. When doctors recommended cardiac rehabilitation, she asked to be referred to Columbus Regional Hospital (CRH).

Comprehensive Care

In 2016, CRH switched from a traditional six-week cardiac rehab program to the Pritikin Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation (ICR) program. The Pritikin ICR program is taught at the Pritikin Longevity Center, a full-service health resort in Miami, Florida, and is now available as an outpatient program at CRH. Now, CRH patients who suffer a heart attack, have chest pain or undergo angioplasty or heart surgery, have access to the Pritikin ICR program right here in Columbus.

The Pritikin ICR program is a complete lifestyle education system that focuses on eating well, exercising regularly and nurturing a healthy mind.

“The all-encompassing 12-week program is designed to heal the whole patient, not just his or her heart,” said Jan Hatfield, R.N., B.S.N. “We evaluate patients and create programs that meet their individual needs. Our goal is to help patients improve their health and prevent future cardiac events.”

Heart Health Tools

Patients go to the cardiac rehab center three times a week for individual exercise sessions while nurses monitor their condition and their progress. During the sessions, patients also:

  • Watch educational videos about reducing their risk factors for heart disease
  • Learn about heart-healthy nutrition
  • Attend healthy cooking demonstrations
  • Learn stress-reduction techniques

“It was fun,” Scheidt said. “The staff members were supportive. There was a great camaraderie with other people in the program. Now I have all the tools I need to succeed.”

What the Studies Say

The Pritikin ICR program helps patients manage chronic conditions that increase their risk for heart disease, such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • High LDL, “bad,” cholesterol
  • High triglyceride levels — fats that damage your arteries
  • Diabetes

To learn more about Columbus Regional Hospital's ICR program, visit

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