In a new study, a 12-week program designed to change unhealthy lifestyles helped adults with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar reach their goal risk-factor levels without using drug therapy.
These results “refute the notion that intensive lifestyle intervention is not worth the effort,” lead author Dr. Neil F. Gordon, from St. Joseph’s/Candler Health System in Savannah, Georgia, and colleagues note in the American Journal of Cardiology. The results are based on a study of 2390 adults who participated in the lifestyle program, which involved an initial health assessment followed by the setting of goals and lifestyle changes designed to reduce their risk factors. Participation in the program was associated with a significant improvement in blood pressure, cholesterol levels, sugar levels, and body weight. Moreover, in a subset of 700 patients, the intervention was linked to a significant reduction in standard risk scores for heart disease. “Therapeutic lifestyle changes can generally be implemented less expensively than most medications and, unlike single-drug therapy, favorably affect multiple risk factors,” the investigators point out. Thus, the current findings could have important implications for healthcare payers, which often do not reimburse for such lifestyle interventions, they add. (Source: American Journal of Cardiology: Reuters Health: January 2005.)