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Lifestyle Interventions Needed to Stay Heart-Healthy
Date:7/12/2010

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, July 12 (HealthDay News) -- There's no lack of scientific evidence proving that staying in shape and eating right are critical to a long and healthy life, but the fact that over 8 million Americans have histories of heart attack, stroke or heart failure suggests that too few are taking the message seriously.

That's the theme of a new scientific statement from the American Heart Association (AHA), which reviewed 74 previously published studies and developed specific behavioral-health strategies to help people stay heart-healthy.

The AHA finds that common-sense steps -- things as simple as writing down how much you exercise each day -- can keep people on track to stay heart-healthy.

"If the patient works with the doctors and writes it down, like keeping diaries of either food or activities, that that small bit of information can really help translate into the patient keeping motivated to follow the healthier lifestyle," noted Dr. Mary Ann McLaughlin, president of the AHA's New York City Board of Directors.

"This is a systematic review of multiple studies that have addressed lifestyle changes as they relate to physical activity and diet," added Dr. Ralph Sacco, AHA president and a professor of neurology, epidemiology and human genetics at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. "It's a very rigorous scientific process that grades and reviews all the existing literature that is out there on behavioral change. This paper actually talks about the scientific evidence supporting approaches of how to change."

The new statement was released online Monday and will appear in the July 27 issue of Circulation.

Heart disease remains the number one killer of both men and women in United States. Lifestyle factors, namely a poor diet and lack of physical activity, are major culprits in the twin epidemics of obesity and heart disease.

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