Making Changes for a Healthier Heart

Heart disease patients who made lifestyle changes had reduced risk of death from heart problems

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) You may have more power to improve your heart health than you think. By eating healthier foods, hitting the treadmill, and quitting tobacco, you could be doing your heart a world of good.

According to a recent study, making these lifestyle changes while getting medical treatment may be more helpful in managing heart disease than medical treatment on its own.

For this study, researchers reviewed previous studies to find out which was more successful in treating heart disease: standard medical treatment or standard medical treatment plus lifestyle changes.

These researchers found people who made lifestyle changes while getting treatment had a lower risk of dying from heart disease than those who only received standard treatment.

"Eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly."

This study was led by Chiara de Waure, MD, of the Institute of Public Health at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Rome, Italy. The research team looked at the success of using standard care and lifestyle changes to treat heart disease in comparison to using standard care alone.

The researchers looked through three research databases to find studies that compared two groups of people: heart disease patients who were treated through standard care and those who were treated with standard care and who also made lifestyle changes.

Overall, 14 studies were reviewed, with the number of participants in each study ranging from 52 to 3,241 and study follow-up ranging from one to 19 years.

The lifestyle changes in each of the studies included at least two of the following: making changes in the diet, exercising, giving up smoking and getting mental health therapy.

The researchers then looked at visits to the hospital, number of deaths and risk factors for heart disease, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar levels, to determine which group was less likely to have any heart disease-related risk factors or to die due to their heart disease.

The researchers found an 18 percent reduced risk of death for people who used standard care and lifestyle changes to manage their heart disease, when compared to people who used standard care alone.

The researchers also found a 15 percent reduced risk for hospital visits and heart disease-related risk factors for the same group, but these findings were not significant and could have been due to chance.

The researchers concluded that, for patients with heart disease, making lifestyle changes while still getting standard care may lower the risk of heart disease-related death when compared to getting standard care alone.

This study was published on July 9 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The authors declared no conflicts of interest. 

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
July 16, 2013
Last Updated:
July 29, 2013