Heart Risk Profile: Treatment Motivator
Learning Your 'Cardiovascular Age' Can Help You Stick to a Heart Treatment Plan
Nov. 26, 2007 -- Putting
heart disease risk factors into perspective with an age-related heart risk
profile may be a powerful motivator to help people take their treatment
A new study shows people with abnormal
cholesterol levels who received a printout from their doctor describing the
probability of developing heart disease in the near future were more likely to
adhere to their treatment plan than others.
The profile put their heart disease risk factors into perspective by
calculating their cardiovascular age. Cardiovascular age was calculated by
adding the difference between life expectancy for a person with heart disease
of their age from the average life expectancy at the same age.
For example, based on high cholesterol and other heart disease risk factors,
a 50-year-old might expect to live another 25 years vs. 30 years for the
average 50-year-old, resulting in a cardiovascular age of 55.
Age Gap in Heart Risk
Researchers found people with a larger "age gap" between
cardiovascular age and actual age were highly motivated to adhere to their
cholesterol treatment plan, including taking cholesterol-lowering drugs and
making healthy diet and lifestyle changes.
The results after a year of follow-up showed people with a larger age gap
also experienced greater reductions in low-density lipoprotein (LDL
"bad" cholesterol) levels. People who received their risk profile were
also more likely to achieve cholesterol level targets.
"Communicating risk is consistent with many of the recommendations to
improve adherence, including enhancing self-monitoring and using the support of
family and friends," write researcher Steven A. Grover, MD, of McGill
University in Montreal, in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
In an editorial that accompanies the study, Rod Jackson MBChB, PhD and Sue
Wells, MBChB, MPH of the University of Auckland say putting various heart
disease risk factors together into a heart risk profile puts the risk into
perspective and motivates those at risk to take action.
"For most patients, their actual blood cholesterol level or
blood pressure becomes clinically meaningful only when considered in
combination with other risk factors and when the cardiovascular risk is
calculated," they write.