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Live well: a practical and effective low-intensity dietary counseling intervention for use in primary care patients with dyslipidemia--a randomized controlled pilot trial.
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Background: Diet is the first line of treatment for elevated cholesterol. High-intensity dietary counseling (≥360 minutes/year of contact with providers) improves blood lipids, but is expensive and unsustainable in the current healthcare settings. Low-intensity counseling trials (≤ 30 minutes/year) have demonstrated modest diet changes, but no improvement in lipids. This pilot study evaluated the feasibility and the effects on lipids and diet of a low-intensity dietary counseling intervention provided by the primary care physician (PCP), in patients at risk for cardiovascular diseases. Methods: Six month study with a three month randomized-controlled phase (group A received the intervention, group B served as controls) followed by three months of intervention in both groups. Sixty-one adults age 21 to 75 years, with LDL-cholesterol ≥ 3.37 mmol/L, possessing Internet access and active email accounts were enrolled. Diet was evaluated using the Rate-Your-Plate questionnaire. Dietary counseling was provided by the PCP during routine office visits, three months apart, using printed educational materials and a minimally interactive counseling website. Weekly emails were sent reminding participants to use the dietary counseling resources. The outcomes were changes in LDL-cholesterol, other lipid subclasses, and diet quality. Results: At month 3, group A (counseling started at month 1) decreased their LDL-cholesterol by −0.23 mmol/L, (−0.04 to −0.42 mmol/L, P = 0.007) and total cholesterol by −0.26 mmol/L, (−0.05 to −0.47 mmol/L, P = 0.001). At month 6, total and LDL-cholesterol in group A remained better than in group B (counseling started at month 3). Diet score in group A improved by 50.3 points (38.4 to 62.2, P < 0.001) at month 3; and increased further by 11.8 (3.5 to 20.0, P = 0.007) at month 6. Group B made the largest improvement in diet at month 6, 55 points (40.0 to 70.1, P < 0.001), after having a small but significant improvement at month 3, 22.3 points (12.9 to 31.7, P < 0.001). No significant changes occurred in HDL-cholesterol in either group. Conclusions: A low-intensity dietary counseling provided by the PCP in patients at risk for cardiovascular diseases produced clinically meaningful improvements in both diet and lipids of magnitude similar to changes reported with high intensity interventions
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