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Do Changes in Cardiovascular Risk Factors Influence Life Satisfaction?

Living with a chronic disease impacts the way an individual perceives life. In a recent study, researchers surveyed patients with cardiovascular disease to determine the relationship between life satisfaction and changes in cardiovascular risk factors.

Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death in most developed countries. In 2013, cardiovascular diseases were responsible for up to one-third of all deaths in developed countries. Due to improvements in treatment and other interventions, cardiovascular diseases have seen a decline in recent years. Despite this decline, risk factors such as obesity and diabetes, which are known to cause serious disabilities, continue to rise.

Early management of these risk factors through prevention, treatment, and lifestyle changes can greatly improve the outcome of cardiovascular diseases, making it possible for many to be able to live longer with the disease. Living with such chronic conditions with constant changes in risk factors greatly impacts life satisfaction. It is therefore important to understand life satisfaction and changes in factors that influence it, particularly in the context of chronic diseases in order to be able to design better and improved methods of prevention.

In a recent study published in BMC Public Health, Baumann and colleagues surveyed patients with cardiovascular disease to determine their changes in cardiovascular risk factors as well as their satisfaction with life. In this study, conducted in Luxembourg, the researchers collected data from 1,837 patients who were among those admitted for a coronary angiography in the period from January 1, 2008, to December 31, 2009. These patients were contacted again five years later to complete a life satisfaction questionnaire. Life satisfaction was measured on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being completely satisfied) while cardiovascular risk factors such as diabetes, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, obesity, physical inactivity, and tobacco consumption were determined using a “yes” or “no” response for presence or absence in 2008 and 2013.

The researchers found that more than 50% of patients surveyed had a life satisfaction of greater than seven with men more likely than women to have life satisfaction of greater than seven. In terms of cardiovascular risk factors, approximately 26% declared yes to hypertension and hypercholesterolemia in 2008 but declared no in 2013. Physical activity was taken up by 14.4% of patients while 13% dropped it. The rate of smoking dropped by 8.8%, however, almost the same percentage (8.5%) of patients continued to smoke. Physical inactivity was seen to be associated with lower life satisfaction. Similarly, it was found that the presence of obesity or diabetes in 2008 and 2013 was more likely to lead to a decline in life satisfaction.

The results of this study highlight the role of physical activity, diabetes, and obesity in determining an individual’s life satisfaction. Understanding this relationship can help both healthcare providers and patients to work together to minimize the impact of cardiovascular diseases through better management and prevention of these risk factors.

Written by Asongna T. Folefoc

Reference: Baumann M, Tchicaya A, Lorentz N and Le Bihan E. Life satisfaction and longitudinal changes in physical activity, diabetes and obesity among patients with cardiovascular diseases. BMC Public Health (2017) 17:925 DOI 10.1186/s12889-017-4925-0

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