CAT | Mental Health
Instead of just offering advice or handing them a pamphlet about the importance of a healthy diet and lifestyle, new recommendations from the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) say health care practitioners could be doing more to help their overweight patients lower their risk of heart disease.
In particular, patients with excess weight coupled with key risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and elevated blood sugar levels would do better with “intensive behavioral counseling,” according to a recent review of nearly 75 different studies focusing on lifestyle intervention techniques for overweight individuals with heart risk factors.
According to the USPSTF, patients who met with their doctors more frequently and who had recurring sessions with trained nutritionists, dieticians and other health educators were able to lose more weight and significantly reduce their risk of heart disease and diabetes. The key, said USPSTF Chair Dr. Michael LeFevre, is the ongoing one-on-one counseling, which helps to assess each patient individually and reinforce healthy habits such as regular exercise.
The new recommendations are similar to those issued by the USPSTF in 2012 (which focused solely on obese patients without heart disease risk factors). However, according to LeFevre one of the biggest limitations when it comes to providing such intense counseling is that unlike the larger health organizations, many smaller, solo practitioners lack the time and resources necessary to provide this level of focused treatment. Still, he encourages health care providers to do what they can to promote heart-healthy living.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, taking the lives of roughly 600,000 people every year. Stroke is not far behind—killing one person every four minutes. Now, the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Stroke Association (ASA) are embracing the power of personal connection and social media to improve cardiovascular health and brain health nationwide. Why? Life is why.
The life is why™campaign, unveiled this month, aims to get people talking about heart and brain health and sharing their stories with others. Using the Life is Why microsite, people are encouraged to share their personal “Whys”—who or what inspires them to live healthier every day—through photos, videos and other content using the hashtag #lifeiswhy. They can also send Life is Why e-Cards to friends and family, as well as create and personalize t-shirts, mugs and other items.
“We wanted people to be able to be able to share with others the reasons for embracing a healthy lifestyle in heart and mind,” said AHA Chief Executive Officer Nancy Brown. The microsite also features a “tool kit” providing resources to promote awareness about healthy living. Visitors can read about the warning signs of stroke, find out where to take a life-saving CPR course, and get information on important diet and lifestyle changes that can improve cardiovascular and brain health.
Together the AHA and ASA hope to meet their goal of significantly improving American heart health by the year 2020 and promoting a world free of heart disease and stroke. In other words, they want to help people everywhere experience “more of life’s precious moments.”
For more information, visit: http://lifeiswhy.org/.