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Blue Shield of California Members Can Now Treat Heart Disease From Home, With Digital Expansion of Ornish Lifestyle Medicine

Nonprofit health plan adding new virtual offering after seeing 71.4% reduction in angina and 23.3% decrease in total cholesterol from nine-week in-person program.

OAKLAND, Calif. (December 7, 2023) – Blue Shield of California members now have virtual access to Ornish Lifestyle Medicine, an innovative intensive cardiac rehab program designed to help prevent, treat, and even reverse heart disease through lifestyle change.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in California and across the nation, and the expansion of this program aims to help more Californians improve their cardiac health by providing a virtual access option to a successful in-person program. 

“At Blue Shield of California, we believe making lifestyle changes have the power to help people with chronic conditions,” said Jennifer Christian-Herman, Blue Shield of California vice president of MindBody Medicine. “Dr. Dean Ornish is an influential leader at the forefront of lifestyle medicine and together we are driving easier access to quality care and creating better heart health outcomes for our members.”

Ornish Lifestyle Medicine is a 72-hour, nine-week heart disease reversal program through lifestyle intervention methods. Participating members can join four-hour virtual sessions, twice a week – with the time equally dedicated to exercise, stress management, interactive lessons and a support group.  

To enhance the experience of participating from the comfort of home, participants receive:

  • Food – Two weeks’ worth of fresh, delicious, and heart healthy premade meals (three meals a day, plus snacks) to kickstart a new way of eating.
  • Technology – A heart rate monitor, scale, and blood pressure cuff for continuous tracking.
  • Equipment – An activity mat and other equipment for exercise and relaxation.
  • Support – Throughout the nine weeks, participants will connect with each other in support group sessions, supporting each other through making important lifestyle changes, in addition to classes and coaching.  

Until now, Blue Shield of California members had access to the Ornish Lifestyle Medicine program in-person at Marin Health and UCLA Health. Those 159 participating members saw significant improvement in their health outcomes after nine weeks. The results include:

  • 71.4% reduction in angina
  • 23.3% decrease in total cholesterol
  • 36.8% decrease in LDL cholesterol
  • 10% decrease in triglycerides
  • 40.4% decrease in depression
  • 3.5% decrease in A1c levels
  • 20.1% increase in exercise capacity 

“Backed by over 45 years of research, Ornish Lifestyle Medicine remains the only program scientifically proven to often reverse heart disease without drugs or surgery,” said Dean Ornish, M.D., founder of Ornish Lifestyle Medicine. “I have seen what a powerful difference this program can make to people’s lives and am proud to expand this program to reach more Californians by offering it virtually through Blue Shield of California. Everyone deserves the chance to change their health – no matter where they live, or what their mobility and transportation limitations might be.”

The program is available to members enrolled in Blue Shield’s employer-sponsored, individual and family, and Medicare PPO plans who have a history of heart disease or a cardiac event. The collaboration is part of the company’s larger effort to reimagine health care through lifestyle medicine. Members can also access Blue Shield’s award-winning Wellvolution program, which offers a suite of lifestyle medicine-based digital solutions, focusing on diabetes, mental health, tobacco cessation, and weight loss.


About Blue Shield of California

Blue Shield of California strives to create a healthcare system worthy of its family and friends that is sustainably affordable. Blue Shield of California is a tax paying, nonprofit, independent member of the Blue Shield Association with more than 4.8 million members, over 7,500 employees and more than $24 billion in annual revenue. Founded in 1939 in San Francisco and now headquartered in Oakland, Blue Shield of California and its affiliates provide health, dental, vision, Medicaid and Medicare healthcare service plans in California. The company has contributed more than $97 million to Blue Shield of California Foundation in the last three years to have an impact on California communities. For more news about Blue Shield of California, please visit Or follow us on LinkedInTwitter, or Facebook.

About Ornish Lifestyle Medicine
Ornish Lifestyle Medicine is the only program that is scientifically proven to reverse the progression of heart disease in randomized controlled trials. Ornish Lifestyle Medicine has spread across the country and begun to revolutionize the way that Americans treat heart disease. Today, the program is reimbursed by Medicare and many other commercial payers, offered in more than 18 states, and delivered with a turnkey process that is optimized by years of operating knowledge. Most importantly, since 2014 alone, it has helped thousands of people from across the country take back their lives. For more information, visit