Adherence to a Multidisciplinary Lifestyle Program for Patients With Atrial Fibrillation and Obesity: Feasibility Study

Nicole Tenbult*, Jos Kraal, Rutger Brouwers, Ruud Spee, Sabine Eijsbouts, Hareld Kemps

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background: Atrial fibrillation is commonly associated with obesity. Observational studies have shown that weight loss is associated with improved prognosis and a decrease in atrial fibrillation frequency and severity. However, despite these benefits, nonadherence to lifestyle programs is common. Objective: In this study, we evaluated adherence to and feasibility of a multidisciplinary lifestyle program focusing on behavior change in patients with atrial fibrillation and obesity. Methods: Patients with atrial fibrillation and obesity participated in a 1-year goal-oriented cardiac rehabilitation program. After baseline assessment, the first 3 months included a cardiac rehabilitation intervention with 4 fixed modules: lifestyle counseling (with an advanced nurse practitioner), exercise training, dietary consultation, and psychosocial therapy; relaxation sessions were an additional optional treatment module. An advanced nurse practitioner monitored the personal lifestyle of each individual patient, with assessments and consultations at 3 months (ie, immediately after the intervention) and at the end of the year (ie, 9 months after the intervention). At each timepoint, level of physical activity, personal goals and progress, atrial fibrillation symptoms and frequency (Atrial Fibrillation Severity Scale), psychosocial stress (Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7), and depression (Patient Health Questionnaire-9) were assessed. The primary endpoints were adherence (defined as the number of visits attended as percentage of the number of planned visits) and completion rates of the cardiac rehabilitation intervention (defined as performing at least of 80% of the prescribed sessions). In addition, we performed an exploratory analysis of effects of the cardiac rehabilitation program on weight and atrial fibrillation symptom frequency and severity. Results: Patients with atrial fibrillation and obesity (male: n=8; female: n=2; age: mean 57.2 years, SD 9.0; baseline weight: mean 107.2 kg, SD 11.8; baseline BMI: mean 32.4 kg/m2, SD 3.5) were recruited. Of the 10 participants, 8 participants completed the 3-month cardiac rehabilitation intervention, and 2 participants did not complete the cardiac rehabilitation intervention (both because of personal issues). Adherence to the fixed treatment modules was 95% (mean 3.8 sessions attended out of mean 4 planned) for lifestyle counseling, 86% (mean 15.2 sessions attended out of mean 17.6 planned) for physiotherapy sessions, 88% (mean 3.7 sessions attended out of mean 4.1 planned) for dietician consultations, and 60% (mean 0.6 sessions attended out of mean 1.0 planned) for psychosocial therapy; 70% of participants (7/10) were referred to the optional relaxation sessions, for which adherence was 86% (mean 2 sessions attended out of mean 2.4 planned). The frequency of atrial fibrillation symptoms was reduced immediately after the intervention (before: mean 35.6, SD 3.8; after: mean 31.2, SD 3.3), and this was sustained at 12 months (mean 24.8, SD 3.2). The severity of atrial fibrillation complaints immediately after the intervention (mean 20.0, SD 3.7) and at 12 months (mean 9.3, SD 3.6) were comparable to that at baseline (mean 16.6, SD 3.3). Conclusions: A 1-year multidisciplinary lifestyle program for obese patients with atrial fibrillation was found to be feasible, with high adherence and completion rates. Exploratory analysis revealed a sustained reduction in atrial fibrillation symptoms; however, these results remain to be confirmed in large-scale studies.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere32625
Number of pages7
JournalJMIR Formative Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • adherence
  • atrial fibrillation
  • cardiac rehabilitation
  • completion
  • lifestyle
  • obesity
  • participation


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