Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of nutrition education within an outpatient cardiac rehabilitation program. Design: Subjects were assigned, according to participation in cardiac rehabilitation programs in two community hospitals within an integrated healthcare system, to either a treatment (n=54), or a control group (n=50). Subjects/setting: One hundred four men and women, age range 35 to 85 years, participating in a 6-week cardiac rehabilitation program. Most were men (80%) and overweight. The majority presented with the diagnosis of myocardial infarction followed by coronary artery bypass surgery or percutaneous transluminal coronary angiography procedure. Intervention: Subjects in the control group received usual nonindividualized nutrition education from cardiac rehabilitation therapists. Subjects in the treatment group attended two group nutrition education classes and one individual diet counseling session, all led by the same dietitian. Main outcome measures: Changes in fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and carbohydrate intake, and restaurant eating habits as assessed by the Diet Habit Survey; changes in cardiac diet self-efficacy; and changes in health-related quality of life. Statistical analyses performed Group-by-time analysis of variance with repeated measures, χ2 test. Results: The treatment group had greater improvement in Restaurant and Recipes scores on the Diet Habit Survey (2.6 vs 1.0) and a greater cardiac diet self-efficacy mean score (4.3) compared with the control group (3.8), with the greatest change in items related to eating in restaurants, away from home, or when alone. From entry into the program to discharge, the cholesterol-saturated fat index decreased significantly in the control group (from 57 to 48), and in the treatment group (from 51 to 42). The percent of energy from carbohydrate increased significantly in the control group (from 51% to 55%) and in the treatment group (from 53% to 57%). There were no differences between groups over the 3 time periods (baseline, 6 weeks, and 3-month follow-up) (n=39 for control group and n=47 for treatment group for all 3 time periods). Applications/conclusions: Nutrition education within an outpatient cardiac rehabilitation program can improve dietary choices at restaurants and boost self confidence in the ability to adhere to a lipid-lowering diet.
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