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Quitting all at once

June 18, 2007|Chelsea Martinez | Times Staff Writer

SMOKING, drinking, eating junk food and getting no exercise: All are risk factors for heart disease, and too many folks do more than one of them. Now a new study is bucking conventional physician wisdom. It's found that tackling a bunch of bad habits at the same time is better than dealing with them one by one.

The study, published in last week's edition of the Archives of Internal Medicine, included 230 patients who were smokers, had hypertension and lived sedentary lifestyles. One-third were asked to change all three habits simultaneously; another one-third, in a sequential fashion: Both received counseling over the phone to help keep them on track. (The rest were advised of their risky behavior but didn't receive further intervention.)

After 18 months, none of the groups had done especially well, but the one that made changes simultaneously had an edge. About 8% had reached more than one heart-health goal (quitting smoking, reducing sodium intake and walking an extra 1,500 steps a day) compared with 6.5% of the sequential group.

"What we found is that if you ask for everything, [you're more likely to get] something, says Dr. David Lyman of the Baylor College of Medicine, the study's lead author. Coauthor Valory Pavlik says this may be because of "the pressure: [knowing] 'I'm going to have to talk about all of these things with my counselor.' "

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chelsea.martinez@latimes.com

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday June 19, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 0 inches; 25 words Type of Material: Correction
Heart disease: An article in Monday's Health section on the best way to manage heart disease risk factors misidentified Dr. David Hyman as David Lyman.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Monday June 25, 2007 Home Edition Health Part F Page 8 Features Desk 0 inches; 25 words Type of Material: Correction
Heart disease: An article in last week's section on the best way to manage heart disease risk factors misspelled Dr. David Hyman's name as Lyman.

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