American Journal of Medicine, internal medicine, medicine, health, healthy lifestyles, cancer, heart disease, drugs

A Deficiency of Nutrition Education and Practice in Cardiology

young female doctor standing by pile of produce

Nutrition is one of the foundations of cardiovascular guidelines for risk reduction and treatment. However, little is known about whether cardiologists, cardiology fellows-in-training, and cardiovascular team members have the nutrition education and knowledge necessary to implement these guidelines. The aim of this study was to describe the educational experiences, attitudes, and practices relating to nutrition among cardiovascular professionals.

Methods

Surveys completed by cardiologists, fellows-in-training, and cardiovascular team members inquired about their personal dietary habits, history of nutrition education, and attitudes regarding nutrition interventions.

Results

A total of 930 surveys were completed. Among cardiologists, 90% reported receiving no or minimal nutrition education during fellowship training, 59% reported no nutrition education during internal medicine training, and 31% reported receiving no nutrition education in medical school. Among cardiologists, 8% described themselves as having “expert” nutrition knowledge. Nevertheless, fully 95% of cardiologists believe that their role includes personally providing patients with at least basic nutrition information. The percentage of respondents who ate ≥5 servings of vegetables and fruits per day was: 20% (cardiologists), 21% (fellows-in-training), and 26% (cardiovascular team members).

Conclusions

A large proportion of cardiovascular specialists have received minimal medical education and training in nutrition, and current trainees continue to experience significant education and training gaps.

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-Stephen Devries, MD, Arthur Agatston, MD, Monica Aggarwal, MD, Karen E. Aspry, MD, Caldwell B. Esselstyn, MD, Penny Kris-Etherton, PhD, Michael Miller, MD, James H. O’Keefe, MD, Emilio Ros, MD, Anne K. Rzeszut, MA, Beth A. White, DNP, Kim A. Williams, MD, Andrew M. Freeman, MD

This article originally appeared in the November 2017 issue of The American Journal of Medicine.

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