UCLA hosts clinical trials for heart disease-reducing mHealth app

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University of California Los Angeles researchers are hosting clinical trials for a mHealth app designed to reduce heart disease for high-risk populations, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times.

The trial involved African American women from LA's Inglewood neighborhood between the ages of 25 and 45 who had at least two risk factors for heart disease. Heart disease among younger black women is a well-known problem that could be affected by mHealth use.

UCLA taught the women about stress reduction, heart healthy lifestyles, diet and exercise and handed out customized Android phones for the study's data collection. Participants wore the phone while they were awake, and the phones transmitted movement data via sensors. Researchers also collected blood pressure data via Bluetooth-enabled blood pressure cuffs.

While the phones were disabled for voice calls, participants could text one another. The app also asked questions about participants' weekly goals, asking them whether they had met various dietary or exercise components.

If unusual patterns showed up in any participant's data, a nurse would call that subject to check in, reinforcing the idea that the goal of the app was important, according to Nabil Alshurafa, a PhD candidate who worked closely with modifying the app.

When compared to the control group, the study group had better cholesterol and blood pressure readings, were emotionally healthier and had improved exercise and diet habits, findings the UCAL researchers reported at the American Heart Association meeting in Chicago in November, according to the report.

MHealth is an ideal platform for many different types of patient populations, as smartphones are common even among lower income populations, according to Jo-Ann Eastwood, NP, an associate professor at the UCLA school of Nursing who ran the study.

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