Having a heart attack is a traumatic experience. Because it’s a life-threatening condition, survivors must make drastic changes to their diets and physical health to prevent another heart attack from happening.
Medical professionals have determined that weight loss is one of the best solutions for preventing repeat heart attacks. However, researchers have found that it’s most effective for survivors to partner up with a friend or loved one to help them with their weight loss journey. Survivors have a better chance at maintaining their weight loss goals if they’re working with someone else. But, why is this the case?
Changing Your Lifestyle
Heart attack survivors must make crucial changes to their lifestyle habits. Registered nurse and Ph.D. student Lotte Verweij commented, “Lifestyle improvement after a heart attack is a crucial part of preventing repeat events.”
Verweij recognizes that most survivors choose not to work alone while making these adjustments. She remarked, “Our study shows that when spouses join the effort to change habits, patients have a better chance of becoming healthier—particularly when it comes to losing weight.”
With a study of 411 heart attack survivors, each survivor was recommended various lifestyle change programs for weight loss, increased physical activity, and programs advocating for smoking cessation. Meanwhile, the survivors’ partners were also recommended to attend the same programs to offer support.
Researchers were pleased that nearly half (48%) of the survivors’ partners decided to participate in the programs. Because of the support from their loved ones, survivors were more likely to commit to their weight loss journey, including engaging in exercise programs and smoking cessation.
Verweij explained, “Patients with partners who joined the weight-loss program lost more weight compared to patients with a partner who did not join the program.”
Why is this? Partners often have the same lifestyle and routines. They eat the same food, and they often participate in the same activities. If they decide to commit to the health programs together, they’re choosing to focus on their health as a team. No one is alone.
“Changing habits is difficult when only one person is making the effort,” Verweij reflected. “Practical issues come into play, such as grocery shopping, but also psychological challenges, where a supportive partner may help maintain motivation.”
You are always better when you have a shoulder to lean on.