UNC research: Counseling programs reduce heart-disease risk

May. 27, 2014 @ 04:30 PM

Reaching patients outside the exam room is proving more important – and cost-effective – in the battle against heart disease, according to research from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The study, by a team led by Thomas Keyserling and Stacey Sheridan from the UNC Center for Health Promotoion and Disease Prevention, was published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine.

It indicates that web-based and live counseling programs can reduce the risk of heart disease in high-risk patients. Further, it suggests that web-based programs are especially affordable.

The study showed that for the 385 participants who were at moderate to high risk for heart disease, factors that would affect chances for heart disease, such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, self-reported dietary intake, physical activity and medication adherence all improved.

Besides health outcomes, the research compared costs of web-based and live counseling. In-person sessions cost $207 per patient, while web sessions were $110. Both approaches were well received by participants, with 75 percent saying they would strongly recommend this program to others.