Researchers from the George Institute for Global Health in Sydney enrolled 352 patients with coronary heart disease in a program. All the patients received four simple texts such as "Don't forget physical activity is good for you!" every week on their mobile phones for a period of six months. This was done to encourage patients to make heart-healthy lifestyle choices.
For comparison, a separate group of patients with coronary heart disease didn't receive any text messages about their heart health. After receiving four texts a week for six months, patients significantly lowered their cholesterol, blood pressure and body mass index.
Associate Professor Clara Chow from the institute said, "The approach had the potential to prevent second heart attacks and save thousands of lives. Around 55,000 Australians go to hospital with a heart attack every year and around one third of those are repeat heart attacks."
The study, which researchers dubbed the "TEXT ME" (short for Tobacco, Diet and Exercise Messages) trial, is one of many recent attempts by heart disease researchers to leverage technologies that patients use every day, like cellphones, in the fight against cardiovascular disease.
"Well-conducted randomized clinical trials like TEXT ME demonstrate that mobile health interventions, even simple ones, can influence patient behaviors and improve risk profiles in the short term. Other text-messaging trials promoting things like weight loss and smoking cessation have shown equally as promising results," said Eapen and his co-authors. The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association