Chelsea Smith is watching what she eats after her doctor told her she needed to change her unhealthy behaviors.
"I mean it's something that you know deep down. I need to eat better, I need to lose weight I need to exercise you know that but it is hard to hear somebody say that to you," said Chelsea Smith, a patient.
The American Heart Association wants more doctors to have that difficult conversation with patients saying bad habits like poor diet, unhealthy body weight, lack of physical activity and smoking should be treated just as aggressively as other heart disease risk factors.
"Being overweight and not exercising can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes so by changing the behaviors you can prevent the formation of some of these disease processes down the road," said Dr. Tara Narula with Lenox Hill Hospital.
The group is also recommending doctors set up practices where patients can connect with specialists like nutritionists or psychologists. "A lot of times it's daunting and overwhelming for people to think about tackling the challenge," Dr. Narula said. "It's having somebody by your side to help you through what is a difficult process.
Chelsea Smith is now seeing a nutritionist who helped her set up a menu plan. "One of my goals that Dr. Narula actually helped me make was she said let's lose some weight, let's see if we can set a reasonable goal to lose 10 pounds by January," She said.
Smith is eating less junk food, drinking less soda and getting more activity including walking.
Alison Harmelin - CBS News
PO Box 4508