A new 10-year analysis of people in England newly diagnosed with high blood pressure, high cholesterol or obesity shows only half receive lifestyle support from their GPs. There is strong evidence showing that lifestyle-related interventions, such as support with stopping smoking, exercising and losing weight, can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
The team of researchers who carried out the analysis, published by the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, say that while the results may stem from poor recording in electronic health records, the results may also represent missed opportunities.
High blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity are risk factors for cardiovascular disease, which in England causes 150,000, or 30%, of all deaths annually. GPs can play a particularly important role in recommending and monitoring lifestyle-related changes for reduction of cardiovascular disease risk.
The analysis of 770,000 patients between 2010 and 2019 showed that lifestyle interventions were recorded for 55.6% of people newly diagnosed with high blood pressure, 52.6% of people newly diagnosed with obesity and 45.2% of people newly diagnosed with high cholesterol.
The analysis also showed a substantial proportion of individuals not having any recorded lifestyle support or medication within 12 months of diagnosis, ranging from 12% of people with an initial diagnosis of high blood pressure to 44% of people with an initial diagnosis of obesity.
One of the researchers, Dr Anant Jani, of the Heidelberg Institute for Global Health, said: “These results have important implications for policy and practice to ensure that individuals with modifiable risk factors linked to cardiovascular disease can benefit from interventions that can help to improve their health, prevent disease and, most importantly, put their health back in their hands.”
The lead researcher on the project, Julia Lemp, added: “Given the large burden of cardiovascular disease on primary healthcare services and lack of long-term follow-up on the effectiveness and equity of access to lifestyle interventions for conditions predisposing patients to cardiovascular disease, the use of electronic health records will be indispensable to better understand their use and impact. As a starting point, improvements in formal recording of lifestyle interventions in routine medical records are needed.”
Use of lifestyle interventions in primary care for individuals with newly diagnosed hypertension, hyperlipidaemia or obesity: a retrospective cohort study (DOI: 10.1177/01410768221077381) by Julia M Lemp, Meghana Prasad Nuthanapati, Till W Barnighausen, Sebastian Vollmer, Pascal Geldsetzer and Anant Jani, will be published by the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine at 00:05 hrs (UK time) on Friday 18 February 2022.
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