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Doctors Need to Treat Unhealthy Lifestyles

Update Date: Oct 08, 2013 09:44 AM EDT

Unhealthy behaviors should be treated with same priority as heart disease risk factors, cholesterol and high blood pressure, the American Heart Association said in a statement.

“We’re talking about a paradigm shift from only treating biomarkers — physical indicators of a person’s risk for heart disease — to helping people change unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking, unhealthy body weight, poor diet quality and lack of physical activity,” said Bonnie Spring, Ph.D., lead author of the statement and a professor of preventive medicine and psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University in a press release.

“We already treat physical risk factors that can be measured through a blood sample or a blood pressure reading in a doctor’s office, yet people put their health at risk through their behaviors. We can’t measure the results of these behaviors in their bodies yet,” he later added.

In the statement’s recommendations creating “inter-professional practices” has been focused upon. In addition following five A’s should be implemented when caring for parents.

  • Assess a patient’s risk behaviors for heart disease.
  • Advise change, such as weight loss or exercise.
  • Agree on an action plan.
  • Assist with treatment.
  • Arrange for follow-up care.

“This isn’t a problem that can be solved alone by the patient or the doctor who is strapped for time,” Spring also added. “We need to break out of our silos and get ahead of the curve in prevention.”

To achieve the American Heart Association’s 2020 impact goals everyone should make preventing cardiovascular diseases a high priority,according to Spring,  

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