A study from 2013 on educating patients about cardiovascular disease risk factors found that while increased knowledge led to modest improvements in meeting ideal health metrics, the changes fell far short of goals set by the American Heart Association.
This highlights the limitations of relying solely on patient education to elicit meaningful population-level improvements in cardiovascular health. To enable sustainable behavioral changes, informational approaches must be complemented by comprehensive reinforcement strategies. Evidence-based options include financial incentives to discourage unhealthy choices and encourage healthier ones, mHealth applications providing ongoing feedback loops and accountability, and physicians consistently recommending evidence-based lifestyle modifications at every patient visit. Layering such interventions to address knowledge gaps, motivation challenges, and capability barriers in unison is key to empowering patients to move beyond initial awareness and take meaningful steps to reduce cardiovascular risks.
Citation: Heston, T. F. (2013). Improving cardiovascular health through education and support. Southern Medical Journal, 106(11), 610–611. https://doi.org/10.1097/smj.0000000000000014