The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

February 24, 2013

Heart research shows promise

WINDBER — Scientists at Windber Research Institute are trying to make it a little easier to improve your heart health.

The Cardiovascular Risk Clinic grew out of the Dr. Dean Ornish Program for Reversing Heart Disease, which was offered through the institute’s Windber Medical Center for several years.

Like Ornish, the clinic’s participants were provided dietary, physical activity, stress management and medical education and support, said Darrell Ellsworth, senior director for the research institute’s Cardiovascular Disease Reversal Project.

But Ornish’s draconian program required participants to follow a strict vegetarian diet.

“This is easier to adapt,” Ellsworth said. “It is not as strict as the Ornish program.”

The Cardiovascular Risk Clinic does not require an enrollment fee, but participants are required to have several lab tests to measure progress. Although the tests are billed to insurance, there could be a co-pay, Ellsworth said.

Many participants choose to sign up for a gym membership for the clinic’s physical activity component.

Windber was part of the research demonstrating the benefits of the Ornish program through reduced cardiovascular risk factors and improved health measures. Now, research is focused on its own risk clinic to see if the results are similar, Ellsworth said.

“We want to see if they can see comparable change in risk factors and molecular change,” he said.

Participants are followed for five years, with blood tests and reports on lifestyle measures to see if they are able to maintain the improvements they achieve during the four-month risk clinic.

Blood tests measure insulin, leptin and c-reactive protein, which are associated with blood sugar and inflammation levels.

In addition, the scientists measure changes in the participants’ genes by studying the RNA, or ribonucleic acid, produced in the cells.

“We do gene expression on thousands and thousands of genes,” Ellsworth said. “We are really just looking at the RNA and what it means for cardiovascular health.”

Results through the first three years are promising. Windber’s team last year published results showing improvements in the insulin and leptin numbers, adding that “insulin and leptin are important markers of insulin resistance and vascular inflammation in metabolic and cardiovascular diseases.”

The paper was accepted and published by the scientific journal “Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases.”

“The program really is successful at reducing the plasma insulin and leptin levels,” Ellsworth said. “They are really having beneficial effects on their cardiovascular health.”

Another report on changes in gene expressions seen in the RNA will be published soon, Ellsworth said.

“What we are seeing there, the longer they continue, the more the genes change,” he said. “Most of genes are involved in the body’s immune response. Most of those genes are down-regulated, so it means the vascular system is doing a better job.”

The program was launched in 2010 with open enrollment in the community. Although it remains open to the public, many participants are now coming through onsite wellness programs offered in partnership with Concurrent Technologies Corp. in Richland Township.

Metropolitan Life’s Richland facility also is joining the program, Ellsworth said.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • bank1 West End bank robbed

    The West End branch of AmeriServ Financial was robbed Tuesday morning, two days before the branch is scheduled to close.

    April 15, 2014 2 Photos

  • weather_2 Old Man Winter returns to area

    Just when you think we’ve finally escaped the cold temperatures, winter swoops back in to remind us it’s not going away just yet.

    April 15, 2014 2 Photos

  • Home is Where The Tribune-Democrat is Delivered!

    April 15, 2014

  • City seeks support for sewer revamp

    The city is looking for backup from the Johnstown Redevelopment Authority in spreading what they call “true” facts and figures regarding the city’s encompassing sewer revamp.

    April 15, 2014

  • Airport gets lift with $180G grant

    The John Murtha Johnstown–Cambria County Airport needs to replace some basic maintenance equipment: a pickup truck, painting machine, chain saw, weed eater, hand tools and more.
    So, on Tuesday, the airport’s authority agreed to accept Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Bureau of Aviation grant money that already has been tentatively allocated.

    April 15, 2014

  • Cresson asks court to force ex-chief to sign pact

    An agreement reached more than a month ago between Cresson Borough Council and its former police chief still has not been signed, and the borough is asking a judge to intervene.

    April 15, 2014

  • hamer 16 Mom told to seek help for addiction

    A Johnstown woman charged with tossing her 4-month-old baby and with drug-related offenses pleaded guilty and was sentenced in Cambria County court on Tuesday.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • District hopes refinancing will save additional $40G

    Refinancing about $4 million in debt will result in savings more than twice as large as initially expected, Windber Area school board members learned Tuesday night.

    April 15, 2014

  • Elder justice events set

    In an effort to combat elder abuse in area communities, an elder justice seminar will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 24 at the Johnstown Senior Center, 550 Main St., downtown Johnstown. In addition, a free elder abuse clergy training seminar will be held from 8:30 to 10 a.m. April 25 at Moxham Lutheran Church, 500 Park Ave., Johnstown.

    April 15, 2014

  • Local briefs 4/16/2014

    April 15, 2014


Do you think that Jack Williams will get the 270 signatures from city residents needed in order to have a referendum placed on a municipal ballot to have the city's pressure test mandate repealed?

I'm not sure
     View Results
House Ads