Medical mobile apps are important weapons in the fight against heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. According to the latest figures from the Center for Disease Control, heart disease claimed more than 647,000 American lives in 2017. That’s nearly 50,000 more than deaths from all cancers combined.
Here are four medical mobile apps that help patients and their doctors win the battle against heart disease with four distinct approaches. Scroll to the end to see my favorite medical mobile app.
1. Love My Heart: A Pre-diagnosis Tool for Women
Heart disease is the number one cause of death for both men and women, but the risks of heart disease going undetected is much greater in women.
That’s why Sonia Tolani, MD and Natalie A. Bello, MD, at Columbia University, developed the Love My Heart App.
According to Dr. Tolani, there are several reasons why heart disease in women often goes undetected and untreated, including:
- Women don’t want to be seen as hypochondriacs. Even when having a heart attack, they are less likely to seek help at a hospital than men.
- Many women do not have routine physicals due to fear of being judged as being overweight.
- Diabetes triples the risk of heart disease in women, versus a doubling of risk in men
- Both pregnancy and menopause increase risk of heart disease
Love My Heart allows women to learn their personal risk level in complete privacy. All they have to do is answer a series of 12 questions. From those answers a risk calculator determines the user’s risk of developing heart disease.
Based on individual risk factors, Love My Heart helps women create a realistic Heart Plan to support:
- Healthy weight
- Healthy diet
- Stop smoking
With 80 percent of women having at least one risk factor for heart disease, but only 16 percent discussing those risks with their health care provider, the creators of Love My Health hope the app will stimulate more conversations between women and their providers.
The Love My Heart app is available for iOS.
2. My Cardiac Coach: A Recovery Toolkit for All Heart Attack Sufferers
The American Heart Association developed the My Cardiac Coach app to help heart attack sufferers who feel like they have been left to figure out their recovery plan on their own.
My Cardiac Coach takes a three-pronged approach to helping heart attack patients with their recovery.
1. Access to Information
The app gives patients access to reliable, science-based information from American Heart Association experts. For those patients who are unsure of what they need to know, My Cardio Coach uses interactive lessons to teach them.
2. Data Tracking
My Cardio Coach provides trackers for data that is critical to user care, including:
- Blood pressure progress
- Weight progress
- Physical activity
- Medication management
Recovering patients can use My Cardio Coach to connect with other heart attack survivors on the American Heart Association’s Support Network.
Update 2021: The My Cardiac Coach app is no longer available.
3. CardioSmart Explorer: Improving the Relationship Between Patients and Health Care Providers
CardioSmart Explorer was created by the American College of Cardiology in order to help clinicians do a better job of explaining heart issues to their patients.
The vast majority of heart disease patients are not experts on how the heart works. Many don’t even know what their condition means. When a problem is explained to them by their clinician, they may envision that problem as something very different from what the health care provider’s description means.
Used primarily on a tablet for easy visibility, CardioSmart Explorer makes sure patients and clinicians are on the same page (or screen).
The high-resolution cardiovascular graphics, images and animations make it easier for physicians and their patients to discuss an individual’s cardiovascular disease and treatment options.
Nine layers of cardiac anatomy are available, and the clinician can scroll through, rotate and zoom in and out of them to show the patient what they need to see. A 3-D beating heart can be oriented to different angles to show the views most relevant to the patient.
There is also a media gallery of animations and interactive displays of common heart diseases.
All of this is to help doctors show patients exactly what is going on in their heart, and how the suggested treatment will work.
To give you a better understanding of how the CardioSmart Explorer helps health care givers explain heart disease to their patients, here is a video demo of the app.
This video was published in 2013, but CardioSmart Explorer hasn’t remained static since then. The American College of Cardiology keeps the app up to date with new features. Future versions are expected to enable customization of the media gallery.
4. Apple Watch ECG & Heart Rate Apps
This is my favorite of them all. Owners of a series 4 or 5 Apple Watch have a electrocardiogram (ECG) device on their wrist.
Using the ECG app in the Apple watch, users can generate a single-lead ECG anytime. The ECG app will then notify you if it detects an atrial fibrillation, abnormally high or low heart rate or an irregular heart beat.
Owners of the Apple Watch also have access to the Heart Rate app. It can be set to run continuously and monitor your heart rate while wearing the watch. The Heart Rate app will alert you with a notification if it detects an irregular rhythm or abnormally high or low heart rate.
Often heart problems go unnoticed because the symptoms aren’t felt – the always-on, always-listening Heart Rate app is there to alert you.
Uplifting Closing Thoughts
Medical mobile apps are examples of the wonderful things we can do with technology. They also inspire those of us in the app development industry – at Big Fish it’s not about fun and games, mobile applications can save lives.
If your organization is considering having a custom mobile application developed, contact Big Fish today to request a no-obligation consultation.