Doctors should evaluate physical activity habits as routinely as checking blood pressure and other risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, including physical activity types, frequency, duration and intensity at work, home and leisure, a major medical group announced.
The American Heart Association released its scientific statement online Oct. 14 in Circulation.
The new statement includes a decision matrix to help providers select the most appropriate evaluation method for their patients, including low-cost or no-cost options, such as questionnaires that patients complete when they arrive for their appointment.
Options for evaluating physical activity vary by subjective measures (self-evaluations and recall questionnaires) compared to objective measures (measures of energy expenditure or physiological measures). The matrix also reviews testing equipment such as pedometers and accelerometers. The matrix then guides physicians to the best options for evaluating physical activity habits by the needs of the patient, the resources available to him or her, and the practical considerations of prescribing an evaluation.
An example case scenario works through implementation by imaging a group of internal medicine physicians in a group practice who have adopted the 2020 American Heart Association Impact Goals for ideal cardiovascular health, and the need to assess baseline activity levels of their patients. The scenario shows how the practice selects an evaluation that can be done quickly as part of a routine office visit and with limited resources.
“All other major modifiable cardiovascular risk factors (diabetes mellitus, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, obesity, and smoking) are assessed routinely. Physical activity status should also be assessed regularly,” the authors wrote.