ACC Council Perspective Looks at Lifestyle Modifications For Preventing and Treating HF

While continued improvement in medical and device therapy for heart failure has led to better survival rates, there may be stronger evidence that heart failure can be prevented by favorable lifestyle choices vs. treatment of existing heart failure, according to a perspective from ACC's Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease Council published Oct. 29 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Monica Aggarwal, MD, FACC, et al., review the evidence behind weight management, exercise, nutrition, dietary composition and mindfulness, along with their potential to influence the epidemiology, pathophysiology, etiology and management of stage A heart failure. They note that clinicians treating this complex disease tend to focus on pharmacological and device therapies, but often fail to capitalize on the significant opportunities to prevent or treat heart failure through lifestyle modification.

For prevention of heart failure, the authors note that achieving and maintaining high levels of fitness as well as a normal body weight have the most compelling benefits. For patients with established heart failure, exercise training has been proven to be an efficacious treatment for both heart failure with preserved ejection fraction and heart failure with reduced ejection fraction patients.

While further research into these approaches is ongoing, the authors believe that stress reduction through mind and body interventions has many health benefits for treating heart failure. They note that yoga and meditation, for example, have shown benefit in reduction of blood pressure and reduced cardiovascular mortality.

Given the difficulties in maintaining healthy lifestyle changes, the authors describe a great deal of interest in leveraging the widespread use of new technologies to easily provide reminders, trackers and motivational tools to people attempting to adopt healthy habits.

The authors explain that it is important to “familiarize health care practitioners with a broad overview of lifestyle measures – specifically as they relate to heart failure – so that they can engage in more informed, shared decision-making with their patients.”

Keywords: Meditation, Yoga, Mindfulness, Blood Pressure, Stroke Volume, Blood Pressure Determination, Heart Failure, Exercise, Decision Making, Cardiovascular Diseases

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