OBJECTIVE: To examine the ability of a secondary prevention programme to improve the lifestyle in myocardial infarction patients aged 50-70 years. DESIGN: Habitual physical activity, food habits, and smoking habits were assessed from questionnaires at admission to hospital and at the one year follow up. Initially, all patients were invited to join an exercise programme and were informed about cardiovascular risk factors. Four weeks after discharge from the hospital, 87 patients were randomised to follow up at the coronary prevention unit by a special trained nurse (the intervention group), and 81 to follow up by their general practitioners (the usual care group). After randomisation, the intervention group was educated about the effects of smoking cessation, dietary management, and regular physical activity. The intervention group also participated in a physical training programme two to three times weekly for 10-12 weeks. MAIN RESULTS: 89% of the patients referred to the intervention group improved their food habits compared with 62% of the patients referred to the usual care group (P = 0.008). Furthermore, 50% of the smokers referred to the intervention group stopped smoking compared to 29% in the usual care group (P = 0.09). Changes in physical activity did not differ between the groups. CONCLUSIONS: This secondary prevention programme based on a nurse rehabilitator was successful in improving food habits in patients with acute myocardial infarction. Initiating the smoking cessation programme during the hospital stay followed by repeated counselling during follow up might have improved the results. The exercise programme had no advantage in supporting physical activity compared to usual care.
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