, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 1-9

Physiologic and related behavioral outcomes from the Women’s Lifestyle Heart Trial

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The Women’s Lifestyle Heart Trial was a small (N=28) randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effects of a comprehensive lifestyle self-management program (very low-fat vegetarian diet, stress-management training, exercise, group support, and smoking cessation) on reduction of cardiovascular risk factors in postmenopausal women with coronary heart disease (CHD). Women assigned to the treatment condition (Prime Time) participated in a week-long retreat followed by twice-weekly 4-hour meetings. Endpoints were program adherence; changes in lipid profiles, body mass, blood pressure, hypolipidemic and antihypertensive medications; and quality of life. Risk factor and psychosocial evaluations were conducted at baseline and at 4, 12, and 24 months. Repeated measures analyses of covariance revealed that the dietary, stress management, and physical activity changes made by intervention women were dramatic and lasting. There were significantly greater improvements in the Prime Time condition compared to the usual care control group on body mass, angina symptoms, and quality of life, and a tendency for a greater reduction in blood pressure-lowering medications. Similar patterns were seen in lipids, blood pressure, and lipid-lowering medications, but did not reach significance. These results demonstrate that postmenopausal CHD women can make lasting lifestyle changes, and that these changes may reduce the need for cardiac medications and improve CHD risk factors and quality of life.

Preparation of this manuscript was supported in part by grant R29 HL50181 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
The authors thank Linda Nettekoven and Jane Brown for their compassion and dedication and Bonnie LaMont for her devotion and soothing stress-management sessions; Drs. Greg Brown, Sandra McClanahan, Dean Ornish, and Larry Scherwitz for their assistance during the development and intervention phases of this project; Dr. Jim Billings, Melanie Elliot, Lee Lipsenthal, Amy Gage, and Lawrence Spann for their support and therapy sessions with project staff during the 2 1/2-year trial; Lisa Strycker for editorial contributions to the manuscript; John Koenig, Rachel Sheuring, Dr. Brad Roy, Dr. Matthew Riddle, Jodie Donnelly and Hank and Phyllis Ginsberg for their generous donations of time during the retreat and at the weekly meetings; and especially, the Prime Time women for their courage and spirit throughout the study.