Patients with CVD risk factors underestimate need for behavioural change

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A greater understanding of barriers to health improvements is needed, say the authors of a new study.

Almost one in five patients at highest risk for cardiac events do not believe they need to improve their health, new research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association suggests. Furthermore, study participants with hypertension or diabetes were no more likely to perceive a need to improve their health than those without those conditions.

The findings, from a survey of 45,443 responses, call for a better understanding of underlying health perceptions and behaviours in order to capitalise on cardiovascular disease preventive efforts.

Most of the study participants at highest risk for myocardial infarction did recognise the need to improve their health, but more than half of these individuals identified barriers to change. The most common barriers were lack of self-discipline, work schedule, and family responsibilities.
“Understanding what motivates changes in behaviour is key to improving the health of individuals and communities,” said Dr F. Daniel Ramirez, lead study author. “Our study sheds light on how knowledge of personally modifiable risk factors for heart attack, such as quitting smoking and exercising, affects people’s perception of the need to improve their health.”

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