Smartphone apps and wearable sensors can help people make healthier lifestyle choices, an American Heart Association (AHA) statement said.
“If a mobile health technology, such as a smartphone app for self-monitoring diet, weight or physical activity, is helping you improve your behaviour, then stick with it,” said lead author of the AHA statement, professor Lora E. Burke from University of Pittsburgh.
“The fact that mobile health technologies haven’t been fully studied doesn’t mean that they are not effective. Self-monitoring is one of the core strategies for changing cardiovascular health behaviours,” Burke added.
The AHA reviewed a small body of published, peer-reviewed studies about the effectiveness of mobile health technologies (mHealth) for managing weight, increasing physical activity, quitting smoking and controlling high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
Currently, one in five American adults use some technology to track health data and the most popular health apps downloaded are related to exercise, counting steps or heart rate.
However, scientific evidence of mobile health technologies’ effectiveness for reducing risk factors for heart disease and stroke is limited, the statement noted.
“Nevertheless, don’t dismiss the possibility that these devices and apps can help you be heart healthy,” Burke said.
“To choose a mobile health technology that works for you, ask your healthcare provider, fitness instructor, registered dietician or similar expert, to help find an effective program,” she added.
The statement also encouraged researchers to embrace the challenge of producing the needed evidence regarding how effective these new technologies are and how we can best adopt them into clinical practice to promote better patient health.
The statement was published in AHA’s Circulation journal.