Motivating patients to make diet and lifestyle changes

While the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, including diet modifications, stopping smoking, weight management and regular exercise for maintaining optimal LDL-cholesterol levels and reducing CVD risk are clear it can be hard to motivate patients to undertake :

these changes. The ESC/EAS guidelines highlight a few key steps that are crucial to influence any behavior change. These include1

  • image Spending enough time with the individual to create a therapeutic relationship even just a few more minutes can make a difference
  • image Acknowledging the individual's personal view
  • image Encouraging the expression of worries and anxieties, concerns and self-evaluation of motivation for behavior change and chances of success
  • image Speaking to the individual in his/her own language and being supportive of every improvement in lifestyle
  • image Asking questions to check that the individual has understood the advice and has any support they require to follow it
  • image Acknowledging the challenging life-long habits can be difficult and that gradual change that is sustained is often more permanent than a rapid change
  • image Accepting that individuals may need support for a long time and that repeated efforts to encourage and maintain lifestyle change may be necessary in many individuals
  • image Making sure that all healthcare professionals involved provide consistent information
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Gradual change that is sustained is often more permanent than a rapid change

Using the JBS “HearthAge” risk calculator could be helpful to make your patient aware of his/her current estimated heart age and especially to motivate him/her, showing the benefits that may be achieved by sustained, long-term reduction of CVD risk factors through diet and lifestyle changes.