Raising Patient Awareness of Risks is Key to Heart Disease Prevention

There’s plenty of room for improvement when it comes to raising awareness for cardiovascular risk, based on a recent study that found one in five adults at risk for heart disease don’t recognize a need to improve their health.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, analyzed data from a 2011–2012 health survey of 45,443 adults from six Canadian provinces. As part of the survey, participants reported whether they had key cardiovascular risk factors such as smoking, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, stress, excess alcohol consumption, low fruit and vegetable consumption and a lack of physical activity. They were also asked about the perceived need to improve their health. For example, participants were asked questions ranging from whether there is anything they could do to improve their physical health to what is stopping them from making these improvements.

On average, participants had 2.5 cardiovascular risk factors and three-quarters recognized the need to improve their own health. Researchers found that the more risk factors participants had, the more likely they were to recognize their need to change. However, one in five individuals with the highest risk (those with five or more cardiovascular risk factors) did not feel a need to improve their health. They also noted that adults who were obese, smoked and didn’t get enough physical activity were most likely to report a need to improve their health, while those with high blood pressure and diabetes were least likely to recognize a need to change.

These findings highlight the need to raise awareness for cardiovascular risk factors and the importance of heart disease prevention. If many adults are unaware of their cardiovascular risk factors, then it’s very unlikely they will take steps to address them. As clinicians, it’s our role to ensure that our patients gain a better understanding of their risk(s) and take steps to improve their heart health.

The CardioSmart team is always looking for new ways to reach patients about cardiovascular risks and lifestyle changes. Most recently we updated our CardioSmart Explorer App and made it free to everyone and available on iPhone, not just iPad. An Android version is coming soon. In addition, our library of infographics for waiting rooms, church and recreations center walls, Facebook walls, etc., continues to grow, as does the wealth of digital educational content focused on cardiovascular diseases, risk factors and common procedures.


Reference

Ramirez FD, Chen Y, Di Santo P, et al. J Am Heart Assoc 2017;May3:[Epub ahead of print].

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Clinical Topics: Prevention, Hypertension, Smoking

Keywords: ACC Publications, Cardiology Magazine, Methyltestosterone, Smoking, Cardiovascular Diseases, Diabetes Mellitus, Obesity, Hypertension, Alcohol Drinking


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