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Getting motivated to prevent heart attacks

Kaiser Permanente in Northern California offers members a variety of preventive information and classes to achieve a better, longer life.

Kaiser Permanente recently debuted a newly enhanced cardiac prevention website called Heart Healthy Living that provides resources on averting heart attacks, managing high blood pressure and cholesterol, and an updated instructor-led curriculum for cardiac prevention classes across Northern California.

“We’ve beefed up our resources to meet patients where they are when they are ready to make the necessary changes to get healthy,” said Landis Coghlan, MD, Kaiser Permanente regional lead for cardiovascular prevention.

She said a variety of life events motivate members to change habits and seek help, whether it’s self-directed reading or in a class.

“Maybe your doctor tells you that you have high blood pressure, or a family member recently had a heart attack,” said Dr. Coghlan. “These are the typical scenarios that drive our members to our educational resources. One of our more popular offerings is a one-on-one session with a health educator that is patient driven, motivational, and geared toward what the member wants to talk about.”

Motivation to stick around

Dr. Coghlan said other motivating scenarios are high cholesterol numbers revealed on routine tests, when someone is diagnosed with diabetes — “because with diabetes you are more likely to have a heart attack or stroke” — or the prospect of becoming a parent.

“The people who are becoming parents think, ‘I might want to stick around a little longer for my children,’” said Dr. Coghlan. “And that is especially important if there is a family history of heart attacks or strokes.”

The instructor-led program offers online classes, one-on-one telephone classes, and in-person classes. The website allows members to find in-person classes closest to where they live and to select from a variety of topics. Classes are standard across the region, but each of Kaiser Permanente’s 21 medical centers in Northern California has additional classes tailored to specific demographics of those areas. For example, in San Jose, there are cardiac prevention classes specifically for South Asian members, said Dr. Coghlan.

The Heart Healthy Living website, in addition to marquee information on blood pressure, cholesterol, and heart attack risk factors, also has a section on medication for blood pressure and cholesterol, and a healthy choices section that includes links to videos on healthy cooking tips and a section with tips on how to take your blood pressure at home.

“The most important thing to say about our prevention education is that when patients are motivated and can get all their questions answered and feel empowered, they can be successful,” said Dr. Coghlan. “I really encourage patients to not be passive about their health. Even if we prescribe them medications, the diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes are at the core of prevention.”

Self-directed reading can be found on the Heart Healthy Living website while instructor-led offerings are here.


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