UT Health East Texas

TYLER — UT Health East Texas Rehabilitation Center recently launched a new intensive cardiac rehabilitation (ICR) program in Tyler, using Pritikin ICR, to treat patients with cardiovascular disease. UT Health Rehabilitation Center is the first location in Texas to offer the Pritikin ICR program, and the first in the region to offer any ICR program.

“UT Health Rehabilitation Center has proudly offered superior, medically supervised cardiac rehabilitation to the people of East Texas for well over 20 years and we are now very excited to expand these services in Tyler in order to improve patient outcomes even further related to cardiovascular health,” UT Health Rehabilitation Center Administrator Laurie Lehnhof-Watts said.

During a reception Thursday to celebrate the program’s launch, Cardiac Rehab Medical Director Dr. Andrew Quiroz spoke about the differences between traditional versus intensive cardiac rehabilitation programs.

Unlike the 36 exercise sessions offered through a traditional cardiac rehabilitation program, Pritikin offers an additional 36 nutrition and stress-management educational sessions. The three-pronged focus — healthy eating, regular exercise and a healthy mind-set — gives the program a more comprehensive approach.

The Pritikin program is one of two Medicare-certified intensive cardiac rehabilitation programs in the nation, and has been suggested to mitigate risk factors for those who have experienced a serious heart event. “Numerous studies support the Pritikin program’s ability to lower blood cholesterol levels, improve blood pressure and blood sugar control and reduce other lifestyle-related risk factors,” Dr. Quiroz said.

Attendees also heard former Smith County Sheriff J.B. Smith speak about his experience with UT Health East Texas’ cardiac rehab after he had quadruple bypass surgery in 2018.

“They’ve come up with a program now that not only keeps you in the system, but shows you how to cook correctly and goes into the mental aspect of the program,” Smith said. “We need people to help us deal with the recovery. That’s why the hospital is so important to me, and that’s why I volunteer – and will continue to volunteer – until they no longer let me.”

The reception also featured a cooking demonstration showcasing a Thai coleslaw and horseradish balsamic dressing recipe, both of which are compliant with the Pritikin eating plan.

“Our caregivers have been preparing to provide these enhanced services for the past year and are ready to offer an outstanding program,” Lehnhof-Watts said. “We expect that patients who are living with cardiovascular disease and are eligible to participate in ICR will have improved quality of life and fewer hospital readmissions.”

Patients can begin the program immediately following a heart event. The program is easily adaptable, depending on the patient’s needs and availability. Patients who have suffered from one of six qualifying cardiovascular events, including heart attack, angioplasty and stents, bypass or valve surgery, angina and chest pain, or cardiac transplant, may be enrolled at UT Health in the Pritikin ICR program in Tyler, depending on insurance coverage.

The program is currently offered at the UT Health cardiac rehabilitation clinic in Tyler, and is now accepting patients. For more information, please call the UT Health Tyler’s cardiac rehabilitation clinic at 903-596-3234.


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