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21-07-2010 | Cardiology | Article

AHA outlines cognitive-behavioral tactics for vascular risk reduction


Free abstract

MedWire News: A scientific statement from the American Heart Association (AHA) reports that combining counseling with extended follow-up, self-monitoring, and goal-setting is the most effective method of ensuring that patients maintain cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk-reducing lifestyle changes.

"Interventions targeting dietary patterns, weight reduction, and new physical activity (PA) habits often result in impressive rates of initial behaviour changes, but frequently are not translated into long-term behavioural maintenance," say Nancy Artinian (Wayne State University College of Nursing, Detroit, Michigan, USA) and team, the authors of the statement.

They explain: "Because many of the beneficial effects of lifestyle changes accrue over time, long-term adherence maximises individual and population benefits."

The statement is based on a review of 74 US studies designed to assess the impact of diet and PA behavioural change on CVD risk factors such as raised blood pressure and cholesterol.

The findings, published in the journal Circulation, show that the most effective methods of behavioural intervention involve the setting of attainable but challenging goals, encouragement of self-monitoring of progress and barriers to behaviour change, and regular follow-up and feedback by healthcare professionals.

The findings also illustrate that tailoring healthcare recommendations to each patient may improve behaviours in the short term (up to 1 year), but further study is required to provide information on the long-term effect of individualized interventions.

Recommendations of cognitive strategies for promoting behaviour change, such as the use of incentives, methods of delivering these strategies, such as the use of the internet, and methods for overcoming cultural or social barriers to behavioural change are also presented in the statement.

The team concludes: "There are many gaps in our current knowledge about promoting lifestyle change. Comparative studies evaluating the effectiveness and intensity of diverse interventions are needed to identify the interventions most likely to succeed in both initiation and maintenance of diet and PA lifestyle changes."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Lauretta Ihonor

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