The clock is ticking
Since the 1950s, heart disease deaths have declined by a whopping 70 percent. That’s good news, but heart disease is still the number one killer in the United States, and the steady decline in deaths tapered off starting in 2011, says Nakela Cook, MD, MPH, chief of staff at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) in Bethesda, MD, at an NHLBI-sponsored media conference in New York City.
Rates of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other risks are on the rise and becoming more prevalent in children, and that threatens to reverse all of our hard-won gains. Are you at risk? Check out these little-known heart disease risk factors that may have a big effect on your health.
Heart disease prevention? There’s an app for that
Jacob Lund/shutterstock Activity tracking and calorie counting apps can help turn the tables on heart disease risk factors like obesity. (So can an old-school pedometer—here’s how.) Technology is also changing the way that people with heart disease communicate with their doctors, and this interaction may save the lives of countless others. Apps such as Omron Wellness allow users to transfer data from their blood pressure monitor to their smartphone, and they can review a month’s worth of readings with their doctor to get a much better picture of their progress over time. Other trials such as CONNECT-HF are harnessing technology to develop specific strategies that will make it easier to recover from heart failure. The trial, which will include 8,000 heart patients and their post-hospital wellness, involves regular check-ins by phone or text to see what interventions help and what doesn’t.
And ultimately this type of data may have even bigger applications, says Dr. Cook. “Medicine will be more like Google and Amazon, and we will be able to take the data we have collected from individuals to guide community health.”