ST. LOUIS, MO, June 14, 2016 – Wellmont Health System, which has achieved national rankings in its hospitals for advanced cardiovascular care, is excited to announce the launch of the Pritikin ICRTM (Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation) program for patients suffering from cardiovascular disease, the state’s number one cause of death. Wellmont is the first health system in Tennessee to launch the intensive cardiac rehab program.

The decision by Wellmont Health System means that patients who have suffered from one of six qualifying cardiovascular events can be enrolled in the Pritikin ICR program at the Wellmont CVA Heart Institute facility located in Kingsport, Tennessee. Pritikin ICR is one of only two Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation programs being offered to hospitals in the United States. It is based on the Pritikin lifestyle program, which focuses on the role of healthy eating, regular exercise and a healthy mind-set.

Leading medical journals have published more than 100 peer-reviewed studies that have validated the Pritikin lifestyle program’s efficacy in addressing heart disease, as well as a variety of other conditions, diseases and health concerns. The Pritikin lifestyle program has been taught continuously at the Pritikin Longevity Center for the last 40 years.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in Tennessee, according to the Centers for Disease Control, outpacing cancer, strokes and chronic lower respiratory diseases. The CDC shows the death rate from cardiovascular disease in Tennessee is also much higher than in the United States as a whole, as Tennessee has the seventh highest death rate from cardiovascular disease in the country.

“Heart disease is a genuine health problem in Tennessee and there is a high demand for all-encompassing treatment options. Pritikin ICR is a comprehensive program designed to improve health outcomes for patients who have recently suffered a cardiovascular disease-related event such as a heart attack,” said Bob Franceschelli, President of St. Louis-based Pritikin ICR. “A healthy lifestyle, exercise and education are key components of the Pritikin ICR program. Education is especially fundamental to recovery as it teaches a healthy mind-set that fosters healthy behaviors to last a lifetime.”

“The Wellmont CVA Heart Institute has developed an innovative and broad-based cardiovascular program that has resulted in multiple nationally respected organizations ranking our program and hospitals among the elite in the country. We’re dedicated to providing outstanding cardiac care for our patients through more advanced rehabilitation and treatment options,” said Jerry Blackwell, M.D., a cardiologist and the practice’s president. “Pritikin ICR’s interest in serving patients aligns with our goal and will serve as an extension of our current cardiac care capabilities.”

The Pritikin program offers the opportunity for improved health outcomes and reduced readmissions for those who suffered a cardiac event. The ICR program consists of 72 sessions, providing patients with substantially more education in healthy living than they receive in ordinary Cardiac Rehab (CR), which is typically 36 sessions primarily focused on exercise. The Pritikin ICR program incorporates the 36 CR sessions of exercise and adds 36 sessions of education.

“The sessions will offer a mix of exercise, individual education, counseling, and group workshops facilitated by Wellmont CVA Heart Institute personnel,” Franceschelli noted. “This includes new features such as heart healthy cooking classes in onsite kitchen facilities and instruction on healthy food shopping and meal planning.”

More information is available at

About Pritikin Programs
The Pritikin Program emphasizes exercise, a healthy mind-set, and an eating plan focused on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, lean meat, nonfat dairy, and protein-rich plant foods like legumes, or beans. Today, the Pritikin Program is taught at the Pritikin Longevity Center, a full service health resort in Miami, Florida, and in hospital provided outpatient programs licensed in a number of states throughout the country. All Pritikin Programs are covered by Medicare for qualifying individuals. The medical conditions that qualify for Medicare reimbursement include heart attack, coronary artery bypass surgery, angioplasty, stable angina (chest pain), heart or heart-lung transplants, and heart valve repair or replacements. For more information, please visit

About Wellmont Health System
Wellmont Health System is a leading provider of health care services for Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, delivering top-quality, comprehensive health care, wellness, and long-term care services across the region. Wellmont facilities include Holston Valley Medical Center in Kingsport, Tenn.; Bristol Regional Medical Center in Bristol, Tenn.; Mountain View Regional Medical Center in Norton, Va.; Lonesome Pine Hospital in Big Stone Gap, Va.; Hawkins County Memorial Hospital in Rogersville, Tenn.; and Hancock County Hospital in Sneedville, Tenn. For more information about Wellmont, please visit

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Jacolyn Gleason