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Health beliefs toward cardiovascular risk reduction in patients admitted to chest pain observation units.

Katz DA, Graber M, Birrer E, Lounsbury P, Baldwin A, Hillis SL, Christensen AJ. Health beliefs toward cardiovascular risk reduction in patients admitted to chest pain observation units. Academic emergency medicine : official journal of the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine. 2009 May 1; 16(5):379-87.

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OBJECTIVES: Even after acute coronary syndrome (ACS) is ruled out, observational studies have suggested that many patients with nonspecific chest pain have a high burden of cardiovascular risk factors (CRFs) and are at increased long-term risk of ischemic heart disease (IHD)-related mortality. The aim of this study was to evaluate the premise that evaluation in an observation unit for symptoms of possible ACS is a "teachable moment" with regard to modification of CRFs. METHODS: The authors conducted a baseline face-to-face interview and a 3-month telephone interview of 83 adult patients with at least one modifiable CRF who presented with symptoms of possible ACS to an academic medical center. Existing questionnaires were adapted to measure Health Belief Model (HBM) constructs for IHD. Stage of change and self-reported CRF-related behaviors (diet, exercise, and smoking) were assessed using previously validated measures. The paired t-test or signed rank test was used to compare baseline and 3-month measures of health behavior within the analysis sample. RESULTS: Of the 83 study patients, 45 and 40% reported having received clinician advice regarding diet and physical activity during the observation unit encounter, respectively; 69% of current smokers received advice to quit smoking. Patients reported lower susceptibility to IHD (13.3 vs. 14.0, p = 0.06) and greater perceived benefit of healthy lifestyles (27.5 vs. 26.4, p = 0.0003) at 3-month follow-up compared to baseline. Patients also reported greater readiness to change and improved self-reported behaviors at follow-up (vs. baseline): decreased intake of saturated fat (10.1% vs. 10.5% of total calories, p = 0.005), increased fruit and vegetable intake (4.0 servings/day vs. 3.6 servings/day, p = 0.01), and fewer cigarettes (13 vs. 18, p = 0.002). CONCLUSIONS: Observed changes in IHD health beliefs and CRF-related behaviors during follow-up support the idea that observation unit admission is a teachable moment. Patients with modifiable risk factors may benefit from systematic interventions to deliver CRF-related counseling during observation unit evaluation.

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