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Behavioural changes can save your health

Washington: Improving your heart health may be as simple as making small behavioral changes. A new study of behavioral health interventions suggests that they are effective at helping people alter their lifestyles and lead to physical changes that could improve overall health.

The findings also indicate a shift is needed in the way such interventions are evaluated by researchers and used by health care providers, said co-author Veronica Irvin of Oregon State University.

Behavioral treatments such as individual counseling or group training to improve nutrition or physical activity, reduce or stop smoking, or adhere to a drug treatment plan, often are overlooked because medical care providers tend to believe it is too difficult for people the make changes to their established lifestyles, said Irvin.

But large clinical drug trials for potential new medications often fail to show that those treatments make patients better and drugs sometimes are associated with undesirable side effects, she said.

Modification of health behavior is another option for health providers and their patients, Irvin explained, but is underutilized in clinical medical practice as well as in public health policy because many providers remain unconvinced that people can change their behavior to improve their health.

This research suggests that behavioral interventions should be taken more seriously, Irvin said, noting that it indicates that people are able to achieve realistic behavioral changes and improve their cardiovascular health.

The study is published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine. (ANI)