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Mobile health improves outcomes for seniors – report

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Two thirds of those who live with cardiovascular disease are aged over 60

The use of apps, devices and texting may have a larger benefit for the older population than first thought, the American Heart Association (AHA) reports.

Having reviewed 26 pieces of research from the last 11 years, the group is calling for greater access to mobile health technologies for elderly people living heart disease, dismissing the idea that it would hinder their progress.

Around two thirds of the world’s cardiovascular disease patients are over 60, with those who have previously suffered a cardiac event in their life 20 times more likely to develop the condition.

Some of the studies examined showed that text messaging and internet resources increased activity levels seniors, which can be key to preventing further heart complications.

The group also states that mobile technology that includes app or text message reminders drastically improved their medication take up.

Mobile health solutions which involved personalised, two-way messaging lead to the best outcomes for this demographic.

These solutions can involve a range of technologies that are working towards a health objective, such messaging services, location systems and wearable devices.

The statement goes against the traditional idea that older generations cannot benefit from technology and it follows a growing trend of bringing new devices to this age group.

One case Health Tech World recently reported on is a new piece of software from Kepler Vision which monitors care home patients at night, predicting and preventing falls.

YOURmeds is another example. This is a smart medication management system that won the AgeTech accelerator programme because of its ability to increase patient adherence by 80 per cent.

AHA’s review highlights ease of usage of the technology as key in determining willingness among older people to engage with a device or platform.

It also underlines limitations to certain studies, including the fact that few compared their results to those who opted not to use these technologies.

Race, gender and ethnicity were also not considered in the research, with the AHA saying those of minority groups were less likely to take up mobile health options.

Erica Schorr, chair of AHA’s statement writing committee, said: “Over the last decade, mobile health technology, especially the wearable technology and mobile health application markets, has grown substantially.

“There is, however, a common misperception that mobile health technology use is lower among older adults, when in fact most Americans aged 60 years and older own a cell phone and spend a significant amount of leisure time in front of a screen.

“This statement highlights the potential benefits that mobile health interventions can provide for monitoring, prompting, encouraging and educating older adults with cardiovascular disease.”

She also spoke about how mobile tech can be used to prevent heart disease before it surfaces.

“We know that controlling blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol are essential secondary prevention strategies and often require medication management.

“Wearable devices and mobile devices and applications play an important role because they can assist individuals in monitoring and tracking health behaviors and heart disease risk factors, to reduce their risk of a cardiac event and achieve ideal cardiovascular health.”

Furthermore, she noted that there are still questions to be answered about which mobile health techniques are most effective and can provide the best possible outcomes for the elderly population.

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