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Changes in Lifestyle Key to Reducing Heart Disease Risk

Making positive changes to one's lifestyle has often been cited as an effective means of improving one's health, particularly as a means of preventing coronary heart disease.

With the advent of seemingly powerful pharmaceutical options, however, many health care providers and insurance companies - and indeed, some patients - tend to downplay the advantages natural therapeutic lifestyle adjustments can have on health and well-being.

In this study, 2,390 adults diagnosed with hypertension, high blood lipid levels, and/or impaired fasting glucose or diabetes, were enrolled in a 12-week, community-based lifestyle management program. Following an initial assessment that ascertained blood pressure levels, weight, waist circumference and other measurements, the program generated a list of goals based on national guidelines, and an action plan for achieving those goals through lifestyle changes, including a home-based exercise plan, meal plan, and other modifications. Patients were then categorized into four groups, based on blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels, and reassessed at the end of the program.

Significant improvements in weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels were seen among all patients at the conclusion of the program. These changes were even more evident in patients who had been diagnosed with "abnormal" values at the start of the program and were not taking any type of medication for their condition. Among patients with high systolic and/or diastolic blood pressure levels at baseline, the average blood pressure readings dropped 17 points and 10 points per patient, respectively. Patients who had high triglyceride levels at the beginning of the program showed an average reduction of 42 points at the 12-week follow-up.

"Although further research is warranted, these data clearly show that many patients who have conventional risk factors can achieve goal levels without medications within 12 weeks of initiating therapeutic lifestyle changes and refute the notion that intensive lifestyle intervention is not worth the effort," the investigators noted. "The present findings have important implications for physicians and their patients in translating national clinical guidelines on risk factor management into medical practice and personal behavior change."

Gordon NF, Salmon RD, Franklin BA, et al. Effectiveness of therapeutic lifestyle changes in patients with hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and/or hypertension. The American Journal of Cardiology Dec. 15, 2004;94:1558-1561.


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Date Last Modified - Monday, 27-Jul-2009 09:13:07 PDT