Shock value: Show patients an image of their clogged arteries

A picture is worth a thousand words when it comes to motivating patients to address risk factors

Showing patients a picture of how much plaque is clogging their arteries may help them to make the lifestyle changes needed to lower their risk of cardiovascular disease, a study suggests.

People given a personalised image of an ultrasound revealing the extent of their atherosclerosis decreased their cardiovascular disease risk in a year.

Meanwhile, those not given the pictorial evidence increased their risk, according to the study in the Lancet.

The group with graphic evidence of their level of atherosclerosis not only saw a decrease in their Framingham risk score, but also showed improvements in total and LDL cholesterol.

But the Framingham risk score increased among participants who weren't given a personalised ultrasound image.

“Information alone rarely leads to behaviour change, and the recall of advice regarding exercise and diet is poorer than advice about medicines,” said