Text messaging improves cardiovascular risk factors

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Semi-personalized mobile phone text messages help improve low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, blood pressure, body mass index and smoking status in people with coronary heart disease, according to a study in the Sept. 22/29 issue of JAMA.

That finding is based on research by Clara K. Chow, MBBS, PhD, of the George Institute for Global Health, University of Sydney, Australia, and colleagues. They randomly assigned patients with proven coronary heart disease to either receive usual care or receive usual care plus four text messages per week for six months. The text messages provided advice, motivational reminders and support to change lifestyle behaviors. The average age of the study participants was 58 years.

In addition to receiving health benefits, the majority of study participants receiving the text messages said they were useful (91%), easy to understand (97%) and appropriate in frequency (86%).

In a related editorial, Zubin J. Eapen, MD, MHS, and Eric D. Peterson, MD, MPH, of the Duke Clinical Research Institute, Durham, NC, write: "Creating an agile and clinically integrated research framework that rigorously evaluates all interventions—drug, device, or digital—is a collective responsibility and challenge for both app developers and health care practitioners. Solving this dilemma can enable the development and use of pragmatic, scalable, and evidence-based solutions that can address a massive problem like cardiovascular disease."

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