In the digital age, platforms such as EHRs, telemedicine technologies and patient portals are enhancing patient care. Health-related smartphone apps have also made a positive impact in terms of personal healthcare. Through a plethora of new apps patients are now able to take charge and manage various aspects of their health and well-being. From cancer, to diet, to diabetes - every condition and health management issue is dealt with across a number of smartphone apps, and heart disease is no exception. Indeed, there are now a number of great apps available for both heart disease patients and individuals wishing to maintain a healthy heart.
What is heart disease?
Cardiovascular disease, or heart disease as it is more widely known, is a leading killer in the U.S. and across the world. According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, one in four Americans dies from heart to disease, which equates to more than 610,000 deaths annually.
As Healthline explained, cardiovascular disease is actually an umbrella term for an array of heart-related problems, such as atherosclerosis, which is a build up on fatty plaque in the arteries, heart infections, congenital defects and coronary artery disease. All the listed conditions can lead to heart attacks or even heart failure, which occur when arteries become blocked, the source noted.
Thankfully, although heart disease is ubiquitous, in many patients it can be treated and managed. Furthermore, given that most heart disease is a corollary of various lifestyle factors, such as lack of exercise and poor diet, heart disease can also be avoided if individuals opt to make healthier choices.
The best smartphone apps
So what are the best apps for patients dealing with heart disease and for individuals looking to maintain good heart health? Check out the list below:
This clever app can measure both a patient's heart rate and overall level of cardiovascular health and fitness, AARP explained, which is ideal for patients experiencing heart disease. Designed by technology specialists at leading higher education institutions Harvard and MIT, Cardiio is unique in that it employs the smart phone camera to take its measurements. Effective and affordable, the source noted that app costs $2.99.
2. Blood Pressure Companion
A steal at just 99 cents, the Blood Pressure Companion is available on the iPhone. According to Healthline, the app makes recordings of a patient's heart rate and blood pressure, before storing the information in a special data base. The patient can then utilize the app to make note of any drastic changes or readings that may be a cause for concern. Better still, for forgetful patients, the app can send reminders when a reading is overdue.
3. The Healthy Heart Meal Planner
Designed by the Heart Foundation, the Healthy Heart Meal Planner app allows users to create healthy and balanced weekly meal plans, while offering general advice on the kinds of foods that are ideal for a balanced diet, the Heart Foundation website reported. The app uses a 'healthy heart' symbol that fills up as users add more meal ideas and recipes. The heart symbol also indicates whether the choices are indeed healthy and balanced.
4. ASCD Risk Estimator
This app, designed by researchers at both the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, can be used to assess individual risk for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, Healthline detailed. The app uses a number of metrics - such as the user's weight, blood pressure, age and lifestyle habits - to ascertain his or her overall risk level for the condition. The app provides results in two risk categories: Lifetime risk and risk within the next decade. If a user is presented with concerning results, he or she will be able to consult with a physician or cardiovascular specialist for further guidance. This app is ideal for all individuals, regardless of age and health, and best of all it's completely free.
5. AliveCor ECG Heart Monitor
Easily the most expensive app on the list at $200, the AliveCor ECG Heart Monitor is an amazingly beneficial tool for patients with a history of cardiovascular problems. AARP explained that the app can be used to monitor electrical patterns in the heart and alert users to any potential problems and abnormalities. It is so helpful because a patient can alert a physician to any problems early, which in turn could potentially stop the occurrence of a catastrophic event, such as a heart attack or stroke.