Welcome to Food for Thought, Your Prairie Guide to Health and Wellness.

My name is Dr. John Scherschel, and I am  the President of Prairie Cardiovascular. I have served as a Cardiologist specializing in Electrophysiology in Springfield since 2014. It is an honor to lead this organization into its 40th year.


30 Day Wellness
Jumpstart Tips

Understanding the Label

Ignore nutrition claims on the front of the package. The Nutrition Facts label has been improved to help you make better-informed choices.

Mediterranean Meets
Your Plate

Focus on filling half your plate with non-starchy produce.

Whole Foods Every Day

No matter your culture or food preferences, eating whole, minimally processed food can be adapted into any cuisine your family enjoys. Let the Mediterranean Diet guide your choices. Are you eating enough fresh produce? Too many packaged foods?

Beans, legumes and lentils fit into both the whole grain and lean protein groups. Low-fat dairy is a lean protein.

The Mediterranean Diet

Fruits, Vegetables, Whole Grains, Olive Oil, Beans, Nuts, Legumes, Seeds, Herbs, Spices

Base every meal around these

Meats, Sweets

Less often

Poultry, Eggs, Cheese, Yogurt

Moderate portions, daily to weekly

Fish, Seafood

Often, at least twice weekly

Be physically active
Enjoy meals with others
Enjoy wine in moderation
Drink water often

Take Note of New
Blood Pressure Guidelines

Know Your Numbers

People with blood pressure readings higher than 130/80 have high blood pressure, according to new AHA guidelines.

The American Heart Association recently amended their blood pressure guidelines, and what was once considered normal is now considered high. People with blood pressure readings higher than 130/80 will be considered to have high blood pressure, or hypertension.

High blood pressure is one of the risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease, which includes strokes, heart attacks, and many other conditions. Your physician or cardiologist will use your blood pressure readings and compare them to the normal range set by the American Heart Association’s guidelines. If your blood pressure reading is higher than the recommended range, your doctor then will establish a treatment program to help correct it. Medication might not be necessary immediately in order to lower your blood pressure.

If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you should work with your physician or cardiologist to help manage the condition. Make sure you understand what your blood pressure is. You can have your blood pressure checked at health fairs, your local pharmacy, or in the comfort of your own home with an at-home blood pressure device. If the reading is high, schedule an appointment with your physician to discuss your blood pressure and what steps should follow.

First recommendations always involve changing your lifestyle. This includes removing stress from your life, quitting smoking, and decreasing the amount of salt in your diet.

You may want to consider changing your diet or increasing your physical activity and exercise regimen to help get your blood pressure under control. Reducing your caloric intake, walking for 20 minutes a day, and increasing the amount of vegetables you eat can all help to significantly lower your blood pressure.

Remember, the health of your heart is important. If you have any risk factors or a familial history that could contribute to high blood pressure, speak with your physician right away.

Where Are Your Numbers?

These guidelines are based on large population studies, but each person has a unique health profile. It is important to create a partnership with your healthcare provider to understand what your particular numbers mean for you. Note the new guidelines for blood pressure that call for treating patients with lower numbers to prevent later complications.

Body Shape Matters

People with apple-shaped bodies (larger waists with extra weight around the abdomen) are at a higher risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and other complications. Those who have a narrow waist and carry more weight around the hips (pear-shaped bodies) have a lower risk.

Undo Your Heart Disease

The nationally recognized Ornish Lifestyle Medicine program through Prairie Cardiovascular is the only scientifically proven program to stop the progression and even reverse the effects of heart disease.

Here at Prairie, we are altering the course of heart disease with a transformational new approach to living. The Ornish Lifestyle Medicine program is the only program scientifically proven to reverse the progression of heart disease through significant changes in lifestyle. The choices we make in our lives have a powerful effect on our health. It’s never been a better time to make those choices count. This program is the only one of its kind in the Midwest and is offered exclusively through Prairie Cardiovascular.

What you’ll do

  • Experiencing delicious meals and discovering how to prepare them at home.
  • Taking part in regular exercise sessions that will easily fit into your daily routine.
  • Learning a range of innovative techniques that will help you feel more peaceful and manage stress more effectively.
  • Giving and receiving emotional support and unlocking the healing power of a community focused on living long, joyful and abundant lives.
  • Continuing the experience through alumni support groups and online communities.

Proven Benefits

  • Reducing the risk of a heart-related event.
  • Decreasing the frequency and severity of chest pain.
  • Lowering the likelihood of future surgery.
  • Lessening your dependence on medications.
  • Lowering your cholesterol, improving your blood pressure, and losing weight.
  • Increasing your capacity for exercise.

Patient journey through the Prairie Lifestyle Medicine program

Diagnosis & Referral

  • Tom calls ACCESS Prairie to make an appointment with a cardiologist.
  • After some tests, Tom’s Prairie cardiologist determines he needs a cardiac catheterization.
  • After his heart cath, his cardiologist talks to him about cardiac rehab.
  • His cardiologist tells her about Prairie Lifestyle Medicine.

Program Participation

  • Tom has his questions answered by a member of the Prairie Lifestyle Medicine staff.
  • Tom decides to enter the program and schedules a meeting to register.

Looking Ahead

  • Tom attends his first 4-hour session that includes exercise, stress reduction, nutrition, and emotional support.
  • Over the next 9 weeks, with the support of fellow participants, program staff and her loved ones, Tom enjoys the benefits of more exercise and a plant-based diet. His cholesterol and blood pressure are significantly lower and he has lost weight.

Continued Support

  • Tom quickly notices that his mobility and exercise tolerance are increasing and is thrilled by the stress reduction techniques. At home, Tom and his family enjoy preparing all the new foods for extended family and friends.
  • Tom forms such close bonds with his fellow participants that they decide to continue meeting regularly after the 72 hour program ends.

Prairie is an exclusive provider of the Ornish Lifestyle Medicine Program

The first program which has been scientifically proven to “undo” (reverse) heart disease by optimizing 4 important areas of your life:

What you eat

How you manage stress

How much you move

How much love and support you have

“It is so simple! I wish other people would understand that they have choices other than just medications, to manage their disease.” – Cathy Lynch, program participant

“The choices we make in our lives have a powerful effect on our health. It’s never been a better time to make those choices count. I am thankful to Prairie Heart and to the local, dedicated Ornish team. We are blessed to have this program in Springfield..” – Terry Hart program participant


To improve overall cardiovascular health, we suggest at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise (or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity). Thirty minutes a day, five times a week is an easy goal to remember.

Get Moving For Your Health

Regular exercise helps fend off high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, and a host of other chronic diseases. 

Optimum Heart Health

For optimum heart health, Prairie recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise on most days of the week. If you can’t get in 30 minutes all at once, you can divide your exercise routine into 10- or 15-minute segments. 

Smoking Cessation

Making the decision to quit smoking is half the battle. Click the link below to schedule an appointment to talk to a specialist about resources that will support you on your journey.

Quitting is a journey.

Making the decision to quit smoking is the first step in an important journey toward better health. And just like any major life decision, it often requires outside support to help you be successful. Prairie is here to help and we can offer tools and programs to help ensure that your journey is a success for life. 

There are Prescription Drugs to Help You Quit Tobacco

There are prescription drugs that have been shown to help smokers quit. Some can be used along with over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapy. You often need to start taking them in the weeks before your Quit Day (the day you plan to quit). Be sure to talk to your doctor to see if medication may be an option.