Texting: Good for the Heart?
(HealthDay News) — Regular text message reminders can help people with coronary heart disease (CHD) adhere to a healthier lifestyle, according to research published in the September 22/29 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Clara Chow, MBBS, PhD, an associate professor at the University of Sydney Medical School and acting director of the cardiovascular division at the George Institute for Global Health, and colleagues assigned half of a group of 710 CHD patients to receive four text messages each week for six months. Both groups started with similar cardiovascular risk factors, on average. The messages were selected from a bank of messages by an automated computer messaging system that took each patient's individual health risks into account.
Most participants found the text-message program to be useful (91%), easy to understand (97%), and appropriate in frequency (86%). After six months, levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol were lower in participants who received text messages compared with those who didn't, the researchers found. Those on the text message system also had lower blood pressure levels and lower body mass index. Smokers accounted for about 53% of both groups. By the end of the six months, smokers accounted for 26% in the text message group, compared with 43% in the control group.
People receiving text messages also were better able to achieve multiple lifestyle changes. The proportion of patients achieving three of five guideline target levels of risk factors was substantially higher in the text message group (63%) vs. the control group (34%), the investigators found.