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Physical Activity Assessment Guide

Physical Activity Assessment Guide

Despite the well-established benefits of leading a physically active lifestyle, many adults in the United States are not physically active enough. “There is a need for routine and consistent assessment of physical activity in research and clinical settings in patients with cardiovascular disease (CVD),” says Scott J. Strath, PhD. “Such assessments may improve the identifica­tion of risk factors, minimize physical inactivity, and further advance our understanding of the health-related impact.” Guidance Issued In 2013, the American Heart Association (AHA) released a scientific statement on assessing physical activity. “The objectives of the AHA statement were to provide the rationale for assessing physical activity, explain the key concepts involved in making these assessments, and offer a roadmap on how to conduct these assessments,” says Dr. Strath, who was lead author of the AHA statement. “Most providers have not routinely assessed physical activity levels because they haven’t had the right tools.” “Clinicians should be performing physical activity assessments as part of routine medical care along with the other classic risk factors for these diseases.” The AHA scientific statement features a decision matrix to help providers select the most appropriate assessment method. The matrix includes low-cost or no-cost options, such as questionnaires that patients complete when they arrive for their appointment. “Several issues need to be considered when deciding on ways to assess physical activity levels,” Dr. Strath says. “These include feasibility and practicality of assessments, the availability of resources, and administrative considerations.” The AHA’s decision matrix provides a mechanism for this selection that takes into account all of these factors. The adopted assessment method will vary depending on circumstances because there is...
Unhealthy Heart Behaviors: Getting Ahead of the Curve

Unhealthy Heart Behaviors: Getting Ahead of the Curve

The American Heart Association (AHA) has set a 2020 goal of improving the heart health of all Americans by 20% while reducing deaths from cardiovascular disease (CVD) and stroke by 20%. The AHA’s 2020 goals were designed strategically to help all individuals prevent declines in their current health behaviors and take a step toward better heart health by progressing toward ideal healthy lifestyle behaviors. “To achieve these goals, prevention is the top priority,” says Bonnie Spring, PhD. “Major strides have been made toward reducing risks for CVD and stroke, but the significant economic toll linked to these health challenges necessitates a new approach.” According to recent estimates, direct annual CVD-related costs are projected to triple, rising from $272 billion in 2010 to $818 billion in 2030. A Call to Action In 2013, the AHA released a science advisory, published in Circulation, emphasizing the importance of greater efforts to preserve cardiovascular health from childhood and to treat health risk behaviors into older ages. The call-to-action statement addresses three novel approaches to attain the AHA’s 2020 goals: 1. Preserving positive cardiovascular health by promoting healthy lifestyle behaviors. 2. Treating unhealthful behaviors in addition to risk biomarkers. 3. Combining individual-level and population-based health promotion strategies that steer the public toward the next level of improved cardiovascular health. “Clinicians need to treat unhealthy behaviors as aggressively as they treat high blood pressure (BP), cholesterol, and other CVD risk factors,” says Dr. Spring, who was lead author of the AHA statement. “It’s a paradigm shift from only treating biomarkers to also helping people change unhealthy behaviors.” Clinicians already treat physical risk factors, but people...
Diabetes Side Effects: Breaking the Silence

Diabetes Side Effects: Breaking the Silence

Sexual and urologic complications among men and women with diabetes have historically received relatively little attention from clinicians. Diabetes impacts the function and structure of the lower urinary tract, including the bladder and prostate. Studies suggest that urologic complications resulting from diabetes may be even more common than that of widely recognized microvascular complications, such as retinopathy, neuropathy, or nephropathy. “Diabetes can lead to different types of sexual and urologic complications in both men and women,” says Jeanette S. Brown, MD (Table 1). “These include urinary incontinence (UI), poor bladder emptying, sexual dysfunction, lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS), and urinary tract infections (UTIs). Treatment options are available for many of these sexual and urologic complications. Unfortunately, these problems often go unaddressed because patients oftentimes will not discuss these issues with their clinicians.” Caring for Women: Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms Urinary incontinence has been estimated to be more common in women with type 2 diabetes than in women with normal glucose levels (Table 2). There is also evidence that women with pre-diabetes are at higher risk for incontinence. The clinical diagnosis of UI—and more broadly, LUTS—is typically based on a variety of factors, and Dr. Brown says that clinicians can be proactive by paying attention to patient complaints when they arise. “It can often be difficult for women to speak up when they develop issues like UI, LUTS, or UTIs, but we should be asking them about these symptoms regularly during office visits,” Dr. Brown says. “When symptoms are identified, we can then take that opportunity to educate patients about the possible treatment options that are available to manage these...
Group Education & Older Diabetics

Group Education & Older Diabetics

Studies suggest that group-based diabetes education efforts can improve short- and long-term disease control among younger patients, but few analyses have explored the effect of these programs on older adults. Unfortunately, older adults are often underrepresented in diabetes edu­cation interventions because subtle changes in functional, cognitive, and psychosocial status can affect diabetes self-care. Many clinicians are reluctant to refer older patients to group education because they believe they may require more individual attention. In a secondary analysis study published in Diabetes Care, we examined whether community-dwelling older adults aged 60 to 75 with type 1 or type 2 diabetes would benefit from self-management interventions similarly to younger and middle-aged adults. We also tested if older adults benefited from group versus individual self-management interventions. Comparing Benefits of Diabetes Intervention In our analysis, patients were randomly assigned to one of three self-management interventions from diabetes educators that were delivered separately to those with type 1 or type 2 disease: 1. Highly structured group: Five group sessions were conducted over 6 weeks. Patients were taught how food, medication, and exercise affected A1C and actions they could take when levels were out of range. Between classes, patients set daily goals and practiced problem solving 2. Attention control group: Five group sessions were conducted over 6 weeks, but the sessions followed a manual-based standard diabetes education program. 3. Control group: One-on-one sessions were delivered for 6 months. During sessions, patients could receive any type of information they requested. According to our results, A1C levels improved equally in the older and younger groups at 3, 6, and 12 months with all interventions and for those...
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