What is an Evidence Summary?
Key messages from scientific research that's ready to be acted on
Got It, Hide this
Lifestyle counselling programs to change diet and physical activity help people improve their risk factors for cardiovascular disease
Lin JS, O’Connor E, Evans CV, et al. Behavioral Counseling to Promote a Healthy Lifestyle in Persons With Cardiovascular Risk Factors: A Systematic Review for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Ann Intern Med. 2014 Aug 26. [Epub ahead of print].
What are the benefits and harms of behavioural lifestyle counselling programs to change diet and increase physical activity in people who have risk factors for cardiovascular diseases (e.g., coronary heart disease, stroke, peripheral artery disease)?
People with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, increased risk of diabetes, and who smoke have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. These risk factors can be improved with changes to diet and exercise, which are often difficult for people to make and to maintain. Intensive behavioural counselling programs have been designed to help people make these lifestyle changes.
How the review was done
The researchers did a systematic review, searching for studies published from 1990 to October 2013. They found 74 randomized controlled trials or controlled trials. The trials included
- adults who had at least 1 risk factor for cardiovascular disease (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, risk of diabetes, or smoking) but who did not have diabetes, coronary artery disease, cerebrovascular disease, peripheral artery disease, or severe chronic kidney disease; and
- behavioural-based counselling programs to promote a healthy diet or physical activity compared with a control group (usual care, a minimal intervention, or attention control) for at least 6 months.
What the researchers found
49 trials combined counselling on diet and physical activity, 18 focused on diet only, and 10 focused on physical activity only.
At 6 months to 7 years, groups did not differ for cardiovascular events including death.
At 1 to 2 years, behavioral counselling reduced cardiovascular risk factors by small amounts compared with the control group (see Table).
Behavioural lifestyle counselling programs to change diet and physical activity help people improve their risk factors for cardiovascular disease a little but do not affect cardiovascular events or death.
Behavioural counselling programs vs control to improve risk factors for cardiovascular disease
Cardiovascular events or death
4 trials (3,962 people)
No difference in effect at 6 months to 7 years
Reduced by 0.12 mmol/L at 1 to 2 years
Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol
Reduced by 0.09 mmol/L at 1 to 2 years
High-density lipoprotein cholesterol
Reduced by 0.02 mmol/L at 1 to 2 years
Systolic blood pressure
Reduced by 2.0 mm Hg at 1 to 2 years
Diastolic blood pressure
Reduced by 1.4 mm Hg at 1 to 2 years
Reduced by 0.12 mmol/L at 1 to 2 years
Reduced by 42% at 1 to 2 years
Reduced by a standard mean difference of 0.25 at 1 to 2 years
A group that receives either no treatment or a standard treatment.
Coronary heart disease
Also known as coronary artery disease (CAD), is a narrowing of the blood vessels (coronary arteries) that supply oxygen and blood to the heart.
The lower number in a blood pressure reading. It is the pressure when the heart rests between beats.
Randomized controlled trials
Studies where people are assigned to one of the treatments purely by chance.
Aspects making a condition more likely.
A comprehensive evaluation of the available research evidence on a particular topic.
The higher number in a blood pressure reading. It is the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats.
The body's network of blood vessels. It includes the arteries, veins, and capillaries that carry blood to and from the heart.
Related Evidence Summaries
Related Web Resources
UpToDate - patient information
There are many strategies available to help you quit smoking. Start by picking a quit date. Consider speaking with a health care provider for advice, seeking in-person or telephone support, making behavioural changes, and using different medications such as varenicline, bupropion, or nicotine replacement therapy.
Dementia affects millions of people around the world, and there is no current treatment. There are a few ways to lower your risk. Eat a well-balanced diet, exercise, stay social, and limit alcohol and smoking.
Informed Health Online
Regular acid reflux may mean you have gastro-esophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD. Treatment for GERD includes lifestyle changes, medication or surgery.
DISCLAIMER These summaries are provided for informational purposes only. They are not a substitute for advice from your own health care professional. The summaries may be reproduced for not-for-profit educational purposes only. Any other uses must be approved by the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal