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Mobile Text Messaging and Coronary Heart Disease Management

By September 24, 2015Commentary

After I wrote a discouraging post regarding mobile health apps last week, I thought I would provide a ray of sunshine for true believers.  A study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association examined whether a text messaging intervention could help in the management of cardiovascular disease.  (JAMA Article)  The study was conducted in Australia with about 700 patients who had a confirmed diagnosis of serious coronary heart disease.  The intervention group received four text messages a week for 6 months.  The text messages gave advice, motivational reminders and support for lifestyle changes.  The messages were somewhat tailored to the patient, but the intervention was not interactive.  The intervention group also got usual care, which was the same as the treatment for the control arm of the study.  Endpoints were lipid levels, especially “bad” cholesterol, blood pressure, body mass index, physical activity and smoking status.  After 6 months the intervention group had slightly, but significant, lower lipid levels and also showed greater improvement in the risk factor endpoints.  The cost of the intervention was a very low $10 or less per patient.  It would be useful to consider the study for a longer period of time to see if the effect grew or did the patients slip back.  But this appears to be a cheap and modestly effective way to help manage a serious disease.

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