Improved unhealthy lifestyle habits in patients with high cardiovascular risk: results from a structured lifestyle programme in primary care
Background. Physical activity, healthful dietary habits, and not smoking are associated with reduced cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. However, few studies have examined how counselling to improve poor lifestyle habits might be carried out in clinical practice. In Swedish primary care, structured lifestyle counselling is still not integrated into everyday clinical practice. The aim of the present study was two-fold: (1) to describe a novel lifestyle intervention programme in primary care; and (2) to evaluate change in unhealthy lifestyle habits over 1 year in men and women with high cardiovascular risk who participated in the lifestyle intervention programme.
Method. A single-group study with a 1-year follow-up was carried out. A total of 417 people was enrolled, median age 62 years (54% women), with either hypertension (69%), type 2 diabetes mellitus, or impaired glucose tolerance. The 1-year intervention included five counselling sessions that focused on lifestyle habits, delivered by a district nurse with postgraduate credits in diabetes care and the metabolic syndrome. All patients were offered in-depth counselling for one or more lifestyle habits when needed. Lifestyle habits were assessed by a questionnaire at baseline and 1-year follow-up. Total change was assessed using a nine-factor unhealthy lifestyle habit index.
Results. Favourable, significant changes were observed for physical activity, dietary habits, smoking, and stress over 1 year. Similar improvements were seen for both sexes and type of diagnosis.
Conclusions. The results support the utility of a multifactorial, structured approach to change unhealthy lifestyle habits for cardiovascular risk prevention in a primary care setting.
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