Association Between Self‐Reported Potentially Modifiable Cardiac Risk Factors and Perceived Need to Improve Physical Health: A Population‐Based Study

Abstract

BACKGROUND An individual's perceived need to improve their physical health (PNIPH) is an essential precursor to adopting healthy behaviors. Nine potentially modifiable risk factors (PMRFs) for myocardial infarction collectively account for ≥90% of the population attributable risk. Though widely recognized, their impact on individuals' health perceptions is unclear. METHODS AND RESULTS Residents from 6 provinces were administered a module on changes to improve health as part of the 2011-2012 Canadian Community Health Survey, yielding relevant data for 8 of the 9 PMRFs sought. The potential effects of PMRFs individually and cumulatively on PNIPH were examined using modified Poisson regression. In total, 45 443 respondents were included, representing 11 006 123 individuals and corresponding to 96.8% of the adult population of the sampled provinces. The sum of PMRFs was positively associated with PNIPH (adjusted prevalence ratio, 1.08; 95% CI, 1.07-1.09 per additional PMRF) with 82.3% of individuals with ≥5 PMRFs reporting this perception. Smoking, obesity, and low physical activity were most strongly associated with PNIPH, whereas hypertension and diabetes mellitus exhibited no association with this outcome after adjusting for potential confounders. Barriers to adopting healthy behaviors were reported by 55.9% of individuals endorsing PNIPH. CONCLUSIONS The cumulative burden of PMRFs is positively associated with PNIPH; however, individual PMRFs differentially contribute to this perception. Among those at highest cardiac risk, ≈1 in 5 denied PNIPH. A better understanding of factors underlying health perceptions and behaviors is needed to capitalize on cardiovascular preventive efforts.

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