Cardiovascular patients do not change behaviors after stroke

Half of the patients do not increase physical activity and continue to smoke.

A European study involving six countries, concluded that a significant percentage of patients do not change their behavior after suffering a myocardial infarction and / or stroke. This study, which involved thousand of patients from Portugal, Croatia, France, Slovenia, Spain and Turkey, was carried out by EUROPREV, the European network for the prevention and promotion of health, chaired by Carlos Martins, professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Porto (FMUP) and researcher at CINTESIS – Center for Research in Health Technologies and Services. The researchers concluded that “many of the patients with cardiovascular problems followed in primary care are failing to make major changes in lifestyles and to control major risk factors”.

The results show that “half of the patients do not increase their physical activity after having a cardiovascular event. In addition, half of women and a third of men continue to smoke”. The study, published in BMC Family Practice, also reveals that a considerable proportion of patients are unable to reach the target cholesterol and blood pressure values ​​recommended by European guidelines. Only 23% of patients (only a quarter of men and less than a fifth of women) are able to reach the target value of recommended LDL (bad cholesterol) cholesterol (less than 70 mg / dL). When it comes to their blood pressure, a quarter of patients cannot reach values ​​below 140/90 mmHg. “These figures are relevant for family doctors because these patients have a high risk of new cardiovascular events, namely of heart attack, stroke and even death”, say the researchers. The authors also point out that, in this study, women were less medicated than men through heart protective drugs, although the reasons for this discrepancy are not known.

This study included only patients who had visited their family doctor in the previous year, which, the researchers warn, “means that the results could be even worse if patients who did not attend the appointments were included and who may still be less motivated to change their lifestyle, namely unhealthy eating and smoking, and less likely to follow treatment”. In a statement, the authors cite data from a series of other studies that show that about 9% of cardiovascular events can be attributed to the low adherence of patients to treatment and that the patients who adhere the most are actually those with the best prognosis.

On the other hand, “unhealthy lifestyles, such as lack of physical activity and smoking, are the most important modifiable risk factors, representing more than 70% of the global weight of chronic diseases, a percentage that is expected to increase to 80 % in 2020”, they added.

According to EUROSTAT, almost 40% of European citizens have seen their family doctor once or twice in the past 12 months and 25% have seen him three to five times in a year.

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