Therapeutic Benefit of Preventive Telehealth Counseling in the Community Outreach Heart Health and Risk Reduction Trial
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We evaluated whether telehealth counseling augments lifestyle change and risk factor decrease in subjects at high risk for primary or secondary cardiovascular events compared to a recommended guideline for brief preventive counseling. Subjects at high risk or with coronary heart disease (35 to 74 years of age, n = 680) were randomized to active control (risk factor feedback, brief advice, handouts) or telehealth lifestyle counseling (active control plus 6 weekly 1-hour teleconferenced sessions to groups of 4 to 8 subjects). Primary outcome was questionnaire assessment of adherence to daily exercise/physical activity and diet (daily vegetable and fruit intake and restriction of fat and salt) after treatment and at 6-month follow-up. Secondary outcomes were systolic and diastolic blood pressures, ratio of total to high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and 10-year absolute risk for coronary disease. After treatment and at 6-month follow-up, adherence increased for telehealth versus control in exercise (29.3% and 18.4% vs 2.5% and 9.3%, respectively, odds ratio 1.60, 95% confidence interval 1.2 to 2.1) and diet (37.1% and 38.1% vs 16.7% and 33.3%, respectively, odds ratio 1.41, 95% confidence interval 1.1 to 1.9). Telehealth versus control had greater 6-month decreases in blood pressure (mean ± SE, systolic -4.8 ± 0.8 vs -2.8 ± 0.9 mm Hg, p = 0.04; diastolic -2.7 ± 0.5 vs -1.5 ± 0.6 mm Hg, p = 0.04). Decreases in cholesterol ratio and 10-year absolute risk were significant for the 2 groups. In conclusion, telehealth counseling augments therapeutic lifestyle change in subjects at high risk for cardiovascular events compared to a recommended guideline for brief preventive counseling.
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