Specialists at the Cardiac Lifestyle Program help patients lose weight and manage cardiac risk factors, including being overweight, diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol.

Our Approach

Specialists in the Cardiac Lifestyle Program in the Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Program at the Massachusetts General Hospital Corrigan Minehan Heart Center help patients who have metabolic syndrome reduce their risk for cardiovascular disease.

Metabolic syndrome refers to a group of risk factors that can increase a person’s likelihood of developing coronary artery disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. These risk factors include hypertension, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and overweight or obesity.

Our specialists help patients who are at risk for developing or already have developed these conditions to lose weight and manage other cardiac risk factors like hypertension and high cholesterol. Our goal is to provide an action plan plus the support needed to achieve a healthier weight and lifestyle.

Cardiac experts work with each patient’s primary care physician to coordinate treatment and provide a comprehensive personalized plan to improve heart health. This includes establishing a profile of risk and a developing a plan that recommends lifestyle changes, such as improved attention to food choices and nutrition, increased physical activity and stress reduction.

What to Expect

Following a comprehensive evaluation with a team physician and nutritionist a plan is developed that addresses how you can achieve a healthy weight. This evaluation includes:

  • Detailed history and physical exam
  • Review of cardiac risk factors
  • Cardiac exam including electrocardiogram
  • Nutrition assessment
  • Comprehensive weight and diet history
  • Exercise history, including leisure and work activities
  • Lipid profile, which includes total cholesterol, HDL, LDL and triglycerides
  • Tests to measure blood sugar
  • Body Composition assessment
  • Tests to determine percent body fat
  • Body mass index, a calculation to help determine cardiac risk
  • Additional diagnostic studies if needed such as an exercise tolerance test (ETT) when indicated

Learn to Be Lean

Patients evaluated through the Cardiac Lifestyle Program may elect to participate in a unique 12-week program called Learn to Be Lean.

Learn to Be Lean helps patients learn to manage their lifestyle differently. We know that making changes in food choices and increasing exercise can be difficult and hard to maintain long term. Through our program, we help patients identify approaches to daily life that will help them succeed in achieving their health and weight loss goals.

The program meets on Friday afternoons. Six visits are held virtually via Zoom from 1 pm–2 pm and for six weeks the program is held in person from 1 pm–3 pm at the Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Center. The program is inclusive of the following components:

  • Group classes: Group classes cover nutrition, exercise and thought processes that may influence lifestyle choices and eating behaviors. A nutritionist discusses reading food labels, fats and cholesterol, super market smarts, the effect of diet on blood pressure and strategies for maintaining healthy eating habits at restaurants or during holiday celebrations. Our physicians and nurses cover exercise physiology, target heart rates, importance of aerobic and strength training, metabolism and eating behaviors. Each group member shares his or her experiences and responses.
  • Supervised aerobic exercise (six sessions): Patients exercise on a treadmill, stationary cycle or other equipment under the supervision of an exercise physiologist and/or nurse
  • Strength training: Patients learn a series of strength training exercises to complement their aerobic training and enhance weight loss. This program is designed to be carried out independently at home
  • Stress Management: Techniques, including guided imagery, meditation and yoga as examples, are reviewed with you during the on-site exercise sessions
  • Individual counseling: Patients may request to meet privately with a program physician and a nutritionist to review their progress and address any individual questions