Mission: Prevention. University of Florida Health Leads the Way in Encouraging Lifestyle Modification to Prevent and Treat Heart Failure
Monica Aggarwal, M.D., FACC, an assistant professor of medicine in the University of Florida College of Medicine's Division of Cardiovascular Medicine and director of UF Health’s Integrative Cardiology and Prevention Program, is on a mission to teach physicians and surgeons about the importance of lifestyle factors in the prevention and management of heart failure.
In a recent publication in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Dr. Aggarwal reviewed the role of dietary composition and supplements, bodyweight, exercise and mindfulness in patients with heart failure and — most importantly — provided practical measures to make it easier for physicians to translate her recommendations into clinical practice.
Although preventive cardiology is a recognized specialty in the United States, Dr. Aggarwal believes there is an opportunity for greater focus on nutritional and lifestyle factors. “If you give patients the tools and the motivation to change, they will,” she says. But, both nationally and internationally, and among both specialists and nonspecialists, physicians’ level of education about nutrition and lifestyle is typically poor. As a result, their interaction with patients on these topics is suboptimal.
The preventive cardiology program Dr. Aggarwal is building at UF Health is already bringing her “great joy.” She has devised a new plant-based menu for patients admitted to the UF Health Heart & Vascular Hospital and regularly speaks to clinicians in other hospitals and the community about the importance of lifestyle in the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease. She is also creating information packages for hospitalized patients that will be distributed before discharge, educating patients about how to initiate beneficial lifestyle changes.
Dr. Aggarwal acknowledges the huge effort of the team at UF Health who are helping to make her preventive cardiology vision a reality. Her recent publication and the work that the team are doing at UF Health has generated considerable interest in the medical community and she is eager to see her ideas more widely adopted. “The more people we can get excited about this mission the better,” she said.
Aggarwal M, et al. Lifestyle Modifications for Preventing and Treating Heart Failure. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2018 Nov 6;72(19):2391-2405. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2018.08.2160.