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Heart Association Report: Health Care Providers Should Treat Unhealthy Lifestyles

Unhealthy habits increase heart disease risk, require aggressive treatment (October 7)

Health care providers should treat unhealthy behaviors as aggressively as they treat hypertension, cholesterol, and other heart disease risk factors, according to an American Heart Association (AHA) science advisory published in Circulation.

“We’re talking about a paradigm shift from only treating biomarkers — physical indicators of a person’s risk for heart disease — to helping people change unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking, unhealthy body weight, poor diet quality, and lack of physical activity,” said lead author Bonnie Spring, PhD.

Among the statement’s recommendations, health care providers should create “inter-professional practices” to connect patients with behavior-change specialists, such as dietitians or psychologists, and should implement the five A’s when caring for patients:

  • Assess a patient’s behavioral risk for heart disease.
  • Advise change, such as weight loss or exercise.
  • Agree on an action plan.
  • Assist with treatment.
  • Arrange for follow-up care.

For inter-professional practices to work, reimbursement policies must be revised, Spring said.

Source: AHA; October 7, 2013.

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