Findings from the American Heart Association (AHA) have uncovered that mobile technologies may aid in helping people make healthier lifestyle choices. As of yet the effectiveness of such technologies or how they contribute to lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke has not been evaluated.
Mobile health services are referred to as mHealth (mobile health technology) and so far it has shown promise to improve the health of its users. MHealth technology can help individuals track health components like blood pressure, weight and even calories consumed. There are nearly 10,000 different health applications, proving that health is a large concern for many. About one in five Americans currently use this form of technology to track their health.
Lead author Lora E. Burke said, “The fact that mobile health technologies haven’t been fully studied doesn’t mean that they are not effective. Self-monitoring is one of the core strategies for changing cardiovascular health behaviors. If a mobile health technology, such as a smartphone app for self-monitoring diet, weight or physical activity, is helping you improve your behavior, then stick with it.”
The American Heart Association created Life’s Simple 7 which are goals people should achieve for overall good health. For the analysis, components explored corresponded with the goals laid out by the AHA.
Weight management – In regards to short-term weight loss, individuals who used mHealth apps to monitor weight were more successful in comparison to those who didn’t. Unfortunately, it is unknown if the weight loss was maintained over the course of the 12 months which followed. If a practitioner were to advise a patient on a weight loss mobile app, they should consider an application which can be personalized, counts calories, measures physical activity and provide feedback.
Physical activity – Research has shown that physical activity improves when a person utilizes a mobile technology. What is lacking is information on physical activity in those who use wearable devices as a tracking method.
Quit smoking – Success of smoking cessation nearly doubles when a mobile technology is used which provides text messages. Failure rate among individuals who do not use an application is nearly 90 percent. Mobile technologies, along with traditional smoking cessation therapies, can lead to greater success.
Data is currently lacking in the areas of diabetes, cholesterol and blood pressure control while using a mobile technology.
Data collected on mHealth technology is limited and mainly conducted over a short-term period. Burke added, “Nevertheless, don’t dismiss the possibility that these devices and apps can help you be heart healthy.”
To find the best app to help you with your health goals consult your doctor, dietician or even fitness instructor.
The findings were published in the journal Circulation.