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Implementing effective mobile health technology will be key for secondary CVD prevention in older adults in the future, according to a scientific statement from the American Heart Association.

According to a study published in the American Heart Association journal 'Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, the review document outlines how mobile health technology, such as text messaging, wearable technology and telehealth interventions, could improve health behaviours and medication adherence among older patients with CVD.

The growth of mobile health technology over the past decade highlights the potential benefits that mobile health interventions can provide. Technology that provides monitoring, prompting and education for older adults should not be undervalued.

While there is a common misconception that older adults are not familiar with technology, studies have found that most older adults aged 60+ do spend a significant amount of time in front of a screen, either tablet or phone. There are potential benefits that mobile health interventions could provide such as improvement in physical activity levels, medication reminders, hydration reminders and so on.

“Over the last decade, mobile health technology, especially the wearable technology and mobile health application markets, has grown substantially,” said Erica N. Schorr, PhD, BSBA, RN, FAHA, associate professor in the Adult and Gerontological Health Cooperative at the University of Minnesota School of Nursing and chair of the statement writing committee.

“There is, however, a common misperception that mobile health technology use is lower among older adults, when in fact most Americans aged 60 years and older own a cellphone and spend a significant amount of leisure time in front of a screen.”

Physical inactivity is highest among individuals aged 65 years or older, especially among those with CVD. Schorr wrote that targeted mobile health strategies have improved health behaviours in older adults with CVD.

Interventions using mobile technology can be used to support the achievement of health objectives, including voice and text messaging, GPS and Bluetooth technology, as well as wearable devices that can monitor and inform the user about specific health measures or behaviours to improve health.

“We know that controlling blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol are essential secondary prevention strategies and often require medication management,” said Schorr.

“Reducing sedentary time, increasing physical activity, maintaining optimal body weight and adopting a healthy diet are other significant lifestyle strategies to optimise the health of individuals with cardiovascular disease.

“Wearable devices and mobile devices and applications play an important role because they can assist individuals in monitoring and tracking health behaviours and heart disease risk factors, to reduce their risk of a cardiac event and achieve ideal cardiovascular health.”