Caregivers who neglect their health at risk for heart disease

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Dec. 17, 2012

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Caregivers for family members with cardiovascular disease might inadvertently increase their own risk for the disease by neglecting their health, said a study in the November-December issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion.

The most commonly reported burdens of being a caregiver include changes in personal plans (39% reported this problem), time demands (38%) and sleep disturbance (30%), the study said (link). Caregivers are less likely to eat a heart-healthy diet and engage in moderate exercise when they report feeling overwhelmed and burdened by sleep disturbances and time demands.

Researchers followed 423 adult caregivers for a year after a relative was hospitalized for cardiovascular disease at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center between January 2005 and June 2007. Caregivers completed a survey at a one-year follow-up that asked about the burdens they experienced and their lifestyle habits during the past 12 months.

Adults might benefit from targeted interventions designed to help them cope with the burdens related to being a caregiver, according to the study authors. But they said more research is needed.

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