Heart Health And Your Mind Are Linked

June 05, 2023; Unhurry Expert Research Team

According to a new study, people living with obesity who attended a non-judgemental and personalized lifestyle modification program improved their cardiovascular and mental health in just 10 weeks.

Participants lost weight and achieved benefits in anxiety and depression and physical measurements including blood pressure stated the study presented at EuroHeartCare — ACNAP Congress 2021, an online scientific congress of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).

Setting up one’s own diet plan

“We focus on changing behaviours and improving people’s relationship with food,” said study author Ms Aisling Harris, cardiac and weight management dietitian, Croi Heart and Stroke Centre, Galway, Ireland.

Harris further explains, “Many participants have tried diets with strict rules and have fears about foods they can’t eat. Our programme has no diet or meal plan, and no foods are excluded. Each person sets their own goals, which are reviewed weekly, and our approach is non-judgemental, which builds rapport and gains trust.”

Identifying triggers and developing coping strategies

Explaining how the concept worked, Harris said, “Obesity develops for multiple reasons and blaming someone for their weight can stop them from getting healthcare and advice. It can lead to emotional eating and feeling too self-conscious to exercise.” “

“By identifying each person’s triggers, we can develop alternative coping strategies, all within the context of their job, caring responsibilities, external stresses, and so on. For some people, coming to a group like this might be the only social contact that they’ve had in the week or that they’ve had in years. People share experiences and support their peers,” he said.

Why being overweight is risky

Obesity and overweight are both linked to a higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. Weight loss is recommended to reduce blood pressure, blood lipids, and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and thus lower the likelihood of heart disease.

Lifestyle modification for people living with obesity

This study analysed the impact of a community-based, lifestyle modification programme on the physical and mental health of people living with obesity referred from a specialist bariatric service at Galway University Hospital. The researchers reviewed data from 1,122 participants between 2013 and 2019.

The 10-week Croí CLANN (Changing Lifestyle with Activity and Nutrition) programme started with an assessment by a nurse, dietitian and physiotherapist and baseline measurements of weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose, fitness, and levels of anxiety and depression. Personalised goals and a management plan were agreed upon in collaboration with each patient.

Tracking triggers for emotional eating

For eight weeks, participants attended a 2.5-hour session every week. Individual goal setting took up the first 30 minutes. The physiotherapist then led a 1-hour workout class after that. After that, there was a one-hour health promotion talk on subjects like making and maintaining changes, stress management (e.g., meditation), healthy eating, portion control, reading food labels, emotional versus physical hunger, physical exercise, sedentary behaviour, cardiovascular risk factors, and healthy eating. To determine the causes of emotional eating, participants utilised activity trackers and kept food diaries.

In the last week patients had an end of programme assessment with the nurse, dietitian, and physiotherapist to look at outcomes. They were then referred to the hospital.

At baseline, the average body mass index (BMI) was 47.0 kg/m2 and 56.4% of participants had a BMI above 45 kg/m2. In addition, 26.7% had type 2 diabetes, and 31.4% had a history of depression.

Psychosocial health

More than three-quarters of participants (78%) completed the programme. Psychosocial health was assessed using the 21-point Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), where 0-7 is normal, 8-10 is mild, 11-15 is moderate, and 16-21 is severe.

Anxiety and depression decreased

Anxiety and depression scores decreased by 1.5 and 2.2 points, respectively, over the course of the programme. The proportion with an anxiety score greater than 11 at the start was 30.8% and reduced to 19.9%; for depression the corresponding proportions were 21.8%, falling to 9.5%.

Improvement in overall health

Overall, there was a 2.0 kg average loss in body weight, with 27.2% of participants shedding more than 3% of their starting weight. The percentage of people who exercised at the required levels increased by 31%. Blood pressure, total cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol all significantly decreased. From baseline to 10 weeks, the percentage of people with high blood pressure decreased from 37.4% to 31.1%. The percentage of people with type 2 diabetes meeting the suggested blood sugar target increased from 47.6% to 57.4%.

“Nearly eight in ten people finished the programme which suggests that the content and format were acceptable. We observed improvements across all psychosocial and health outcomes during a relatively short period indicating that this could be a model of service delivery for other centres,” concluded Harris.

Story Source:

Materials provided by European Society of Cardiology. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Page Citation

European Society of Cardiology. “Focus on emotions is key to improving heart health in people living with obesity.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 June 2021. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/06/210617082738.htm>.

Help is here:

Name of the Organisation: India Heart Foundation:

The India Heart Foundation is a collective that works with doctors from across the country empowering them to reach out to the people around them better. They are creating medical educational resources and building a global cardiovascular community to promote cardiovascular health at a regional and national level.

Website: http://indiaheartfoundation.in/

Contact: Telephone: +91 8220277777

Name of the Organisation: Vandrevala Foundation

Vandrevala Foundation is a non-profit that partners with organizations to help communities thrive by providing education and healthcare. Vandrevala Foundation launched a mental health helpline in India in 2009 to offer free psychological counselling and crisis mediation to anyone who is experiencing distress due to depression, trauma, mood disorders, chronic illness, and relationship conflict.

Website:  http://www.vandrevalafoundation.com

Contact: Email: info@vandrevalafoundation.com

Telephone: +91 9999 666 555

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