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Knowing Heart Disease Risk May Prompt You Adopting Heart-Healthy Lifestyle

Posted Aug 25 2008 3:05pm

In order to reduce the risk of a heart attack and heart-related death, one should try to lower levels of bad cholesterol ( LDL ) while raising levels of good cholesterol ( HDL ). Regretfully, most patients do not obediently follow recommendation from their doctors so as to change their lifestyle or taking their cholesterol reducing medications.

However, when the doctor tells the patients who are at risk of coronary heart disease exactly what their risk is and how they can help lower their risk, they seem to respond better to preventive treatment. This is the findings of a recent study conducted by a group of researchers at the McGill University in Montreal, Quebec and published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The researchers actually found that people who had discussed openly with their doctor about their coronary risk profile achieved better improvement in their cholesterol levels than those who did not discussed with their doctor. As found out by the study, about one-third of people, who are not convinced that they need their cholesterol medications, stop taking them.

In order to ascertain whether boosting patients' knowledge of their heart risk profile might help them to adopt heart-healthy lifestyle, the researchers randomly assigned 3,053 adults being treated for cholesterol problems into 2 groups: one group received usual care while the other group received a 1-page computer printout displaying the probability that they will develop heart disease in the next 8 years based on their current lifestyle, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and other risk indicators. The printout group also received ongoing feedback on how much they could cut their risk through lifestyle modification and drug therapy.

There were 2,687 patients completed the 12-month study. Those in the intervention group who kept track of their heart risk profile had small but significantly greater improvements in their cholesterol profiles.

In addition to communicating risk, there are also other means that can be used to improve adherence to heart-healthy lifestyle. These include enhancing self-monitoring and using support of family and friends.
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