MyHeart Counts Research App Latest in Disruptive Technology

Partners in Innovation | Wearable technology for health care monitoring is expected to play an increasing role in health care as devices and software grow in sophistication and usage, and medical professionals incorporate readings from the devices into office visits.

The possibilities are endless as the latest technology now allows data from various wearable devices and apps to be shared with electronic health records.

In order to tap into the reporting of this information, a team at Stanford University School of Medicine – including Michael V. McConnell, MD, FACC; Alan Yeung, MD, FACC; Euan A. Ashley, MD, FACC; Sharat Israni; and Michael Halaas – recently launched a first-of-its-kind iPhone app – MyHeart Counts – to collect data about physical activity and cardiovascular risk factors to study the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease.

Using Apple’s ResearchKit framework, the free app delivers a comprehensive assessment of each user’s cardiovascular health and shares ways to improve their health. The team at Stanford will study which types of behavior-modification methods for enhancing healthy behaviors succeed.

“MyHeart Counts aims to be the largest study of measured physical activity and cardiovascular health to date,” said McConnell, who is a professor of cardiovascular medicine and principal investigator of the MyHeart Counts study. “We want people to join in this research effort to give them personalized information about their heart health and help provide fundamental new insights into how activity helps your heart, across all ages, genders, cultures and countries.”

The MyHeart Counts app is one of the first five apps to use the ResearchKit framework, which is designed to make it easier to study health and disease by allowing researchers to gather more frequent, real-world participant data through the iPhone.

“We have known for years that physical activity is more powerful than any medication in saving lives, but now we can measure physical activity so much more accurately,” said Ashley,  who is a professor of cardiovascular medicine and genetics, and a co-investigator of the study. “At Stanford, with our long history of big-data expertise, we are committed to harnessing the vast amounts of data that modern devices, such as the iPhone, can provide to lend insight into heart health on a scale never before seen.”

Currently with more than 40,000 downloads, the app is available in the U.S. for iPhone 5 and higher, and is expected to expand to other platforms worldwide.

“We have the opportunity to directly measure activity in people throughout the world to improve our understanding of the relationship between activity and heart health. It will also let us study ways to help people improve their activity and cardiovascular health over time, which could prevent more heart disease around the world,” said McConnell.

As Robert Harrington, MD, FACC, noted during the 46th Annual Louis F. Bishop Lecture during ACC.15, “This is the new way of doing research. When you can enroll 24,000 patients in a few days, that’s disruptive!”

Keywords: Cardiology Magazine, ACC Publications, Cardiovascular Agents, Cardiovascular Diseases, Electronic Health Records, Health Behavior, Malus, Research Personnel, Risk Factors, Software

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