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Lifestyle behaviors exert a significant influence on chronic disease outcomes, including blood pressure. For many patients, there is a perception that medications they are prescribed will address their metabolic concerns, making lifestyle behavior changes less necessary. Further, most patients acknowledge the importance of healthy lifestyle behaviors, but are less likely to consider them as an active part of their treatment program unless explicitly stated as a priority by their provider. These are often described as “something I know I should do, but didn’t really consider changing until my doctor told me I needed to.”

While the time available within a typical office visit is likely not sufficient to provide counseling that will facilitate lifestyle behavior change, primary care providers can serve as facilitators to available resources. Some of the following resources will help patients identify overall information about diet and physical activity recommendations. In particular, the DASH diet plate is a great patient education resource to use during the staff-led cardiovascular health follow-up visit. Referrals to exercise professionals or registered dietitian nutritionists can offer more individualized options to foster changes specific to an individual’s current behaviors. Further, for individuals with limited resources, linking patients to assistance programs and community resources may be necessary to allow for actionable strategies for behavior change.

Dietary Guidance for Cardiovascular Health

Resource 1: Cardi-OH Diet: Guidelines and Recommendations for Improving Cardiovascular Health

Resource 2: Cardi-OH Building a DASH Diet Plate

Resource 3: Cardi-OH Building a DASH Diet Plate (Expanded)

Resource 4: Cardi-OH Overview of Salt Restriction

Resource 5: What is the Mediterranean Diet?

Resource 6: My Life Check | Life’s Simple 7

Resource 7: USDA MyPlate Dietary Patterns Resources: MyPlate | US Department of Agriculture

Resource 8: Heart Healthy Resources from NHLBI:  NHLBI Deliciously Healthy Eating Recipes

Physical Activity Guidance for Cardiovascular Health

Resource 1: Cardi-OH Taking Steps: Exercising to Promote Heart Health

Resource 2: Cardi-OH Helping Patients Achieve an Active Lifestyle

Promoting Nutrition Counseling referrals within the Primary Care setting

Resource 1: Nutrition Counseling Referral Resources  

Resource 2: Find a Nutrition Expert

Resource 3: Referrals to a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Primary Care Provider Toolkit