One study has shown that patients who have survived a heart attack and wanted to lose weight, one of the main lifestyle changes to be made, did better when accompanied by their spouse in this goal. Because in addition to motivation, getting started as a couple allows you to better overcome lifestyle changes.

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 on a diet. An important objective since changes in lifestyle after a heart attack also called “myocardial infarction”, which designates 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,” says Lotte Verweij, main author of it. 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

More 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 stop 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 promote a healthy lifestyle.

Partners of patients in the first group were able to participate in these lifestyle interventions free of charge 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 l 'one of three areas (weight loss, physical 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 the weight loss meetings were all the more successful in achieving this goal compared to patients alone. These results are important since if other studies also prove that partners help ensure that heart attack survivors adopt healthier lifestyles, doctors could officially issue this recommendation to limit the risk of heart attack. 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 to maintain the 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 persistence, but this assumption needs to be further explored. », She concludes.