Can partner involvement positively affect a weight loss journey ? That’s a big yes, according to a new study by researchers in the Netherlands. This study, presented at the 2020 Congress of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC), indicates that heart attack survivors are more likely to lose weight when their partners join them in dieting. An important objective since lifestyle changes after a heart attack also called “myocardial infarction”, which refers to the destruction of part of the heart muscle (the myocardium), is a crucial element in preventing a recurrence.
The researchers wanted to study the influence of partners on the modification of risk factors related to the lifestyle of patients after a heart attack. “Our study shows that when spouses join in the effort to change their habits, patients have a better chance of becoming healthier,” especially when it comes to losing weight. ”, Explains Lotte Verweij, its main author. A total of 824 people were divided into two groups. The first group was the intervention group, which meant that patients were involved in lifestyle programs for weight reduction, physical activity, and smoking cessation.
Food, sport, tobacco: the spouse has a role to play
Specifically, the latter benefited from weekly group sessions with a weight loss specialist for a year, an accelerometer to measure their physical activity and an online sports coach. To quit smoking, motivational interviews were scheduled by telephone with professionals for three months with, if necessary, a prescription for nicotine substitutes. Patients in the “control group”, meanwhile, received usual care which included several visits to the cardiologist, as well as up to four visits for a program coordinated by nurses to encourage a healthy lifestyle.
Partners of patients in the first group could participate free of charge in these lifestyle interventions and were even encouraged to do so: their participation was recorded, at least once during the duration of the study. This was the case for almost half (48%) of them, and the results showed that compared to single people, patients with a partner were more than twice as likely to improve in at least one of the three areas (weight loss, exercise, smoking cessation) in one year. In addition, the researchers also wanted to analyze in detail the beneficial influence of spouses according to each area of intervention.
“Couples often have comparable lifestyles”
It turns out that patients with a partner attending weight loss meetings have all the more managed to achieve this goal compared to patients alone. These results are important since if other studies also prove that partners help to ensure As heart attack survivors adopt healthier lifestyles, doctors could officially issue this recommendation to limit the risk of recurrent heart attacks. The reason is simple: “Couples often have comparable lifestyles and it is difficult to change habits when one person is making the effort. », Adds Lotte Verweij.
In addition, the help of the spouse is can prove to be crucial when practical problems come into play. “Like the races but also psychological challenges because the partner can help maintain motivation. “, According to Lotte Verweij. The latter notes, however, that the study did not find more improvements in terms of smoking cessation or the practice of regular and adapted physical activity for patients when partners were actively involved in these two areas. “These lifestyle issues may be more subject to individual motivation and perseverance, but this hypothesis still needs to be explored. », She concludes.