According to the European Society of Cardiology – which conducted the EUROACTION study – many patients find it hard to adhere to the recommended lifestyle changes without professional help.
Researchers studied over 10,000 patients, with existing CVD or who were at high risk of the condition, over three years.
Half received an intervention including lifestyle, risk factor and drug treatment assessments for themselves and their partners, and the rest received usual care.
The intervention group made significant lifestyle changes, particularly in diet and exercise.
Three-quarters achieved fruit and vegetable consumption targets, compared with just over a third of controls, and twice as many met the recommended weekly intake of oily fish. Those in the intervention group also took more physical exercise, with twice as many achieving targets of 30–45 minutes of exercise four to five times per week.
Study author Catriona Jennings, research nurse coordinator at the UK National Heart and Lung Institute in London, said: ‘On their own, patients struggle and don’t do well changing habits. Providing support and follow-up from dietitians, nurses and physiotherapists made a big difference in helping patients reach their goals.’
Alison Pottle, cardiac nurse consultant at London’s Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Trust, added: ‘It is good that partners were involved in the study as I think that we are more likely to help patients achieve goals if their partners also make lifestyle changes. It will also benefit the partners and reduce their risk of CVD.’
The Lancet (2008) 371: 1999–2012