After a heart attack, a smartwatch app may help keep patients from being hospitalized again, researchers say.
The app helps patients keep track of medications and make lifestyle changes. It may also reduce rehospitalization in the month after discharge by half, according to a new report.
The American Heart Association says one in six heart attack patients returns to the hospital within 30 days of discharge. And about 75% of readmissions occur because of preventable medication errors or poor compliance with diet and other lifestyle changes, experts note.
"Historically, we too often hand a stack of papers about very complicated guidance to patients and then expect them to significantly change their lives," said researcher Dr. Francoise Marvel. She is an assistant professor of cardiology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in Baltimore.
"There had to be a better way to treat a patient," Marvel said. "We thought: What if we completely reengineered the recovery process for those who have a heart attack?"
So Marvel's team developed the app known as Corrie -- a play on the word cor, the Latin word for heart. Using a smartwatch, the app can track a patient's heartbeat, daily activity and blood pressure. The app alerts users when to take medications and schedule follow-up appointments. It is also a hub for patient education materials related to heart-healthy lifestyles.
For the study, the researchers gave smartwatches and wireless blood pressure devices to 200 patients.
The investigators found that patients who used the app had a 52% lower risk of going back to the hospital within 30 days of discharge for any health issue compared with the historical group. Also, those using the app were more motivated to improve their quality of life. In fact, more than 90% of users said they were ready to manage their health at home.
"We found that if you engage patients frequently on what they need to do to take care of themselves, they get really pumped up to do so," Marvel said in a university news release.
The report was published recently in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.
For more on heart attack, head to the American Heart Association.