Education programs lead to better health in heart patients

Older women heart patients benefit from educational programs as a supplement to clinical care to help significantly lower cardiac symptoms, lose weight and increase physical activity, a new study shows.

Different program formats produce different results for this notoriously difficult to treat patient population.

The new research from the University of Michigan suggests that if hospitals and clinicians offered specially designed group or individual programs, depending on the desired outcome, female heart patients over 60 would need less health care and have a better quality of life.

Group programs worked significantly better when the patient’s goal was to lose weight and increase physical activity. Self-directed programs worked significantly better when the patient’s goal was to control symptoms, the study found.

Noreen Clark, professor in the U-M School of Public Health and director of the University’s Center for Managing Chronic Disease, said the results will help clinicians treat patients more successfully. Doctors, she said, are unable to personally offer in-depth education and counseling, yet they know that their patients need some type of supplemental support to adhere to prescribed cardiac care regimens.

“Every good clinician wants his or her patients to do well,” Clark said. “Clinicians are very busy and can only provide basic education, not in-depth support of the type we are talking about here. This research suggests that if these educational programs were available the patient will do much better.”

Heart disease is a leading cause of death among women, and management problems are prevalent as women live longer. Women with heart disease compared to men tend to be older, widowed, living alone, and report more severe symptoms and are more likely to avoid physical activity. They report greater negative impact on their mobility and social interactions.

The U-M research group is working with the U-M Office of Technology Transfer to make the educational programs in the study available to hospitals and clinicians, Janz said.

Source: University of Michigan, USA

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