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Aug 10, 2017

Lifestyle Counseling Proves Useful for Heart Disease Prevention

Adults at low risk for heart disease consistently benefit from counseling that promotes exercise and a healthy diet.

Simple lifestyle counseling may prove useful for the prevention of heart disease, based on a recent analysis that found healthy lifestyle interventions consistently improve cardiovascular health.

Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, this study explored the risks and benefits of lifestyle counseling in healthy adults. It included data from 88 recent studies, all of which tested interventions focusing on a healthy diet, exercise, and/or limiting sedentary time. Together, these studies included nearly 121,200 adults free of heart disease or any known risk factors like high blood pressure and diabetes.

After analysis, researchers found that healthy lifestyle interventions had consistent modest benefits across key health outcomes. For example, interventions helped reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels and promoted weight loss among participants after 6–12 months. Researchers also found that the more intensive the intervention, the greater the health benefits were.

Since studies were relatively short-term, researchers did not find that interventions had a significant impact on quality of life or mortality risk. However, there were no risks or adverse events associated with any of the interventions when compared to standard care.

What this study shows, according to authors, is that lifestyle counseling is both safe and effective for healthy adults. Researchers consistently found that counseling and support helps adults take steps toward a healthier lifestyle. Over time, these changes help promote better health and reduce risk for heart disease. However, authors note that this analysis was relatively short-term, with most studies following participants for 6–12 months. Thus, additional studies are needed to confirm the long-term impact of healthy lifestyle interventions on cardiovascular health.

Questions for You to Consider

  • How can I reduce my risk for heart disease?
  • Healthy lifestyle choices are key to reducing risk for heart disease. By eating a heart-healthy diet and staying physically active, you can help significantly reduce heart disease risk. Knowing your numbers—body mass index, blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar—and family history is also important so that you can address any risk factors you may have for heart disease.

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Infographic: Active Living