Dr Christi Deaton: Ask Cardiac Patients About Their Diet and Exercise

Healthcare providers can encourage cardiac patients to adhere to exercise and diet guidelines by asking how they are doing with recommendations and emphasizing the importance of following through, explained Christi Deaton, PhD, RN, FAHA, FESC, of the University of Cambridge.

How can physicians promote adherence of exercise and physical activity as a form of therapy for cardiac patients?
I'm going to put that in a multidisciplinary context, because I think, and certainly in our prevention guidelines, we focus on that it is multi-professional and that everybody needs to focus on that. For physicians, it's particularly important that they ask about physical activity. Patients will often say, "Nobody ever asks me if I'm being more physically active." If physicians ask about it, then people know that it's important, and that they want to know. Physicians may want to find other people to work with the patient, to figure out how much, how hard, that kind of thing, but as long as they ask about it, that's incredibly important.

Or asking about their diet. "Are you eating vegetables and fruits? And are you finding it easy to make the changes that have been recommended by a dietitian or a nurse about your diet?" So part of that is about emphasizing how important it is.

There are a number of studies that are starting to look at very brief interventions. So partly it's using cognitive behavioral strategy. Thinking about realistic goals that patients have, self-monitoring—so they may be encouraging patients to use a pedometer. And those are pretty cheap. Not everybody has to go out and buy a Fitbitl; some patients may want to get apps, and oftentimes you can download those for a low cost or no cost.

It's about finding ways so that the patient can work with you to achieve these particular goals.
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