Communicating With Doctors Through Internet may Help Lower Heart Disease Risk

by VR Sreeraman on  June 29, 2008 at 10:29 AM News on IT in Healthcare
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 Communicating With Doctors Through Internet may Help Lower Heart Disease Risk
Anthony Kidawa knows how important it is for patients to communicate with their doctors, especially when it comes to their cardiovascular health.

Kidawa, a podiatrist for more than 35 years, specializes in peripheral vascular health, and has seen the ravages of poor cardiovascular health on the lower extremities first-hand.

That's why he decided to participate in a study at Temple University to see whether regular, internet-based communications with doctors and health care professionals could help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease in high-risk, yet healthy individuals.

Kidawa knows something about being at high-risk for heart disease as well: he has a history of high blood pressure, so he decided to sign up for the study.

He received a device to measure blood pressure and a pedometer to measure daily steps, along with advice on exercising and its benefits in preventing heart disease.

During the study, he regularly reported his blood pressure, weight and pedometer data to cardiologists, and received feedback and educational information via the internet.

"I've lost 10 pounds so far, and I've seen a reduction in my blood pressure since the beginning of the study," Kidawa said.

Temple researchers found that adding the internet reporting system to traditional office visits allowed participants to communicate more frequently with their healthcare providers, and as a result, they were able to lower their risk of heart disease by improving blood pressure, blood lipid levels and cardiovascular disease risk score.

Today, even after the study has wrapped, Kidawa continues to report his statistics.

"I still communicate regularly with my health provider in the program," Kidawa said.

"You can report more often, but every three weeks, I log into the site and record my blood pressure numbers, weight, and steps taken."

"Communication between a patient and their primary care provider works for prevention of cardiovascular disease, whether it's in the office, or over the internet," said lead researcher Alfred Bove, M.D., professor emeritus at the School of Medicine and chief of cardiology at Temple University Hospital adding that the telemedicine approach does have some advantages to traditional patient visits.

"With rising healthcare costs, a telemedicine system can encourage communication between patients and their doctors with less cost and time commitment than frequent doctor visits," he said.

"This is an excellent way to encourage patients to communicate directly with their primary care physicians and become empowered to ask questions and become proactive in their healthcare," said Bove.

Kidawa has found the program helpful, and says he feels more healthy thanks to the online reporting and communication.

"I'm very satisfied with my results," he said.

Source: Newswise

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