Westmead Hospital study finds text messaging program improves lifestyle risk factors in heart attack survivors – thepulse.org.au


A study of the text messaging program, TEXTMEDS, was successful in informing and supporting heart attack survivors on how to prevent a second heart attack.

The randomized controlled study led by Cardiologist and Academic Director of Westmead Hospital and Professor of Medicine at the University of Sydney’s Westmead Applied Research Centre, Dr Clara Chow, investigated whether texting and telephone support to patients could improve risk factors in high-risk individuals. subsequent cardiovascular events.

The trial was the first of its kind to implement a systematic digital health intervention in around 20 hospitals across urban and rural Australia.

About half of all cardiovascular events occur within the first year after a heart attack or stroke, with 20-40% of these patients being readmitted with a subsequent coronary event within 12 months.

To reduce their risk, people who have had a heart attack are encouraged to maintain a healthy lifestyle; manage risk factors for heart disease, including blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes; and take the medications prescribed by their doctor.

The TEXTMEDS study aimed to improve patient adherence to medication, lifestyle and behavior change.

Hospital admissions for people who have had a heart attack are usually short, and there may not be enough time to provide information and education to support their recovery and how to prevent another heart attack,” Dr. Chow said.

“Post-hospitalization prevention programs can be helpful, however, even with access to these programs, approximately two-thirds of people do not attend due to various barriers including returning to work, hours of rigid schedule, distance or lack of perceived need.”

Participants received four text messages per week for the first six months, then three messages per week for the next six months.

The digital platform developed by the research team applied algorithms that enable the selection of appropriate and personalized messages to support patients who have recently suffered a heart attack across Australia. The text messages explained things like blood pressure and cholesterol goals, how each of the medications worked, and the importance of taking medication regularly. They also covered health topics such as physical activity, diet, quitting smoking and mental health after a heart attack.

Study participants showed improvements in healthy lifestyle measures after 12 months, with text group participants more likely to have a normal body mass index and more likely to report eating five or more servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit each day.

“Even though this study found no significant impact on medication adherence, TEXTMEDS demonstrates that a simple, inexpensive, and personalized SMS-based program can provide systematic post-hospital discharge education and support people after a heart attack with minimal staff.

Of the 509 patients in the text messaging group who responded to a user feedback survey, 86% agreed that the text messaging program was helpful and 63% agreed that the text messaging program reminded them to take their medications and encouraged them to change their way of life.

58% said their diet had become healthier through texting and 48% said they exercised more regularly through texting.

The study was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council in Australia.


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