RESEARCH – February 2012

Patients with cardiovascular diseases in a family health centre: their lifestyle and health behaviour and its development by the support of primary health care


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Aim. To f ind out (1) the lifestyle and behavioural risk factors of patients with increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and (2) changes that have taken place in patients’ lifestyle (nutrition, physical activity, smoking and alcohol use) after participation in a prevention project and (3) whether counselling by the family nurse has helped make positive changes in the person`s health behaviour.

Methods. A survey of 63 patients (27 men and 36 women aged 40-60 years; a questionnaire including 31 questions ) with abnormalities in physiological indicators in the frame of the prevention project carried out in 2008-2010.

Results. The great majority of the patients agreed that cardiovascular diseases are a serious health problem in Estonia; they recognised their own risk and the role of  unhealthy behaviour in it. Of the patients 52% reported that their lifestyle was healthy, among them more patients had higher educational level. About two thirds of the patients had healthy eating habits, among them more women ate fruits and vegetables, bread and meat products. Only one third of the patients were used to consume healthy milk products, oil and fish. Of the patients 65% had regular training at least once a week and 25% did not train regularly, among them women being in majority. Of the patients 45% did not adhere to the recommended daily amount of alcohol and 19% were daily smokers. Of the studied patients 57%, among them more women than men, changed their health behaviour after biological abnormalities had occurred, mostly through correcting nutrition and physical activity. Of the patients 45% had received information about health promotion during the family nurse`s consultation. Patients with higher educational level followed the nurse`s advice more often compared with persons with lower educational level. Patients wanted to receive more informat ion and pass more analyses/tests concerning their health, they were interested in personal lifestyle counselling and looked forward to experiencing more empathy in relations with the family nurse/doctor.

Conclusions. The majority of the patients were aware of the meaning of cardiovascular diseases and the role of lifestyle risk factors. About half of the patients reported having a their healthy lifestyle. More than half of the studied patients changed their health behaviour after the biological abnormalities had occurred. Less than half of the patients had received health promoting information from their family nurse. Patients need to receive more personal health related information, counselling and motivation to quit smoking and alcohol abuse from the family nurse/doctor.