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Connecting the dots : how male cardiac patients initate and sustain a heart-healthy lifestyle Grimwood, Sandra Anne

Abstract

80% of Canadians are at risk for some form of heart disease, disease of the coronary arteries or disease of blood vessels throughout the body. Research has shown that lifestyle modification can reduce further cardiac events and interventions. However, little is documented about the process middle-aged men use to engage in a change of health behaviour. The purpose of this study was to explore and describe the specific types of behaviours that middle-aged men with coronary artery disease (CAD) engage in when initiating and sustaining a heart-healthy lifestyle Nine men with CAD who had engaged in lifestyle modification were interviewed. Using a grounded theory approach, data were derived from in-depth interviews and analyzed according to the constant comparative method. Findings revealed that, for the men in this study, initiating and sustaining a heart-healthy lifestyle was equivalent to the process of "Connecting the Dots". Connecting the Dots included the categories of Understanding Risk Factors, Negotiating/Seeking Support, and Getting Serious. Understanding risk factors encompassed two elements: making sense and confronting the disease. Having support, as the men, connected the dots provided help to initiate and sustain a change in health behaviour. Getting serious involved engaging in risk factor reduction by replacing unhealthy behaviours with health ones. A better understanding of how middle-aged men with CAD engage in a change of health behaviour, has implications for nursing practice, patient education, policy, and may provide direction for further research. Insight into the process used by middle-aged men to engage in lifestyle modification may contribute to the body of nursing knowledge about compliance with risk factor reduction, and will help nurses reach the ultimate goal of caring effectively for this unique population of cardiac patients.

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