Seeing is believing, and it may also be lifesaving when it comes to preventing heart attacks, a recent study suggests.
A blocked artery is a lot like a blocked water pipe. In both situations, things look fine on the outside but there’s less getting through the passageway. Unlike a water pipe, however, plaque-blocked arteries can be fatal.
When arteries responsible for giving you heart oxygen, blood, and nutrients become clogged – coronary artery disease, you’re at a risk of heart attack.
Preventing Cardiovascular Disease
According to Ulf Naslund, who led the study, the best prevention includes lifestyle changes like following a healthy
diet, exercise, and quitting smoking, along with anti-hypertensive medication and drugs to lower cholesterol.
But when you have no reason to assume something’s wrong with your cardiovascular health, the investment may seem too difficult. In the words of Richard Kones from the Cardiometabolic Research Institute in Texas to Reuters in an email, “Many people believe they are heart-healthy when they are not.” Since Atherosclerosis can go unnoticed for decades, “patients remember only a small fraction” of the doctor’s orders.
So these rather simple suggestions are often not adhered to.
Seeing the Light at the end of the Artery
But is there a way to make people at risk of cardiovascular disease to take this health advice more seriously?
To find out, researchers studied a group of adults aged 40, 50, and 60 who were part of a cardiovascular disease prevention program in northern Sweden. The participants each had at least one conventional risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
All participants received the same standard advice and information. But 1,749 of them also got vivid images of their arteries along with personalize tutorials. The tutorials explained the connection between the pictures and the potential health issues down the line. Compared to the 1,783 participants who didn’t get the additional artery visuals, a year later, the intervention group’s average risk of heart disease dropped from the previous year while the average risk for the control group increased.
There was also a difference in cholesterol levels. Although both groups had lower levels at the end of the year, the group with the images took the lead.
Would you like to see your arteries?
Please share in the comments below.