Using smart phones to improve cardiovascular health

Cardiovascular diseases are the leading causes of death, globally and in Australia. Now, an IPAN researcher is exploring how digital health can change management and prevention of cardiovascular disease.

Supported by a National Health and Medical Research Council project grant, Professor Ralph Maddison is leading a trial of a new mobile cardiac rehabilitation program.

“After someone has a heart attack, cardiac rehabilitation – including lifestyle changes and adhering to prescribed medication – reduces the risk of future heart problems and helps with recovery, but the number of people who complete rehabilitation is low,” Professor Maddison said.

“Our three-year study will look at whether a smartphone-delivered rehabilitation program improves people’s recovery, and cost effectiveness of the program for the health system.

“This approach means more people could potentially have access to cardiac rehabilitation services, especially those living in regional and rural areas.”

Next steps

Results from the trial will help determine whether a smartphone-based digital platform for improving fitness and self-management are effective for people with cardiac disease and represent good value for money.

“We’re hoping this digital platform, as well as usual cardiac rehabilitation care, will improve patients’ physical fitness, uptake and maintenance of self-management behaviours, cardiovascular risk factors such as diet or smoking, and be a cost-effective way to manage their condition,” Professor Maddison said.

Since the project commenced in 2018 the research team has worked with external providers to refine and finalise the intervention technology. Trials are currently underway at three clinical sites in Victoria (Bendigo, Western and Barwon Health).