Empowering Patients to Reduce Their CVD Risk

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), nearly 80 million adults have at least one type of cardiovascular disease (CVD), and it is the most deadly disease in the United States. Studies indicate that if CVD were completely eradicated, life expectancy could increase by nearly 7 years. In the July 27, 2010 issue of Circulation, the AHA released a scientific statement on individual-level interventions that are designed to promote physical activity and dietary lifestyle changes for cardiovascular risk factor reduction in adults. “Individual-level interventions that target dietary patterns, weight reduction, and new physical activity habits often result in impressive rates of initial behavior changes,” says Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, DrPH, who co-chaired the panel that developed the scientific statement. “Unfortunately, many of these behavioral changes are often not maintained for the long term.” The purpose of the scientific statement is to provide evidence-based recommendations on individual-level strategies—for example, in the healthcare setting—for implementing physical activity and dietary interventions in all adults, regardless of racial or ethnic background and socioeconomic demographic. The most efficacious and effective strategies were summarized (Table), and guidelines were provided to translate these strategies into practice. The AHA committee reviewed 74 studies conducted among U.S. adults between 1997 and 2007. The studies measured the effects of behavioral change on blood pressure and cholesterol levels, physical activity and aerobic fitness, and diet. “There has been an explosion of data emerging on behavioral research and science over the past decade,” Dr. Mozaffarian notes, “and the time was right to systematically review the evidence base for behavioral strategies to improve physical activity and diet to reduce the burden of CVD.” Cognitive...