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A text a day keeps the doctor away? According to a new study published in yesterday’s Journal of the American Medical Association, four text messages per month could encourage improvements in the health of heart patients. Heart-related advice brought on significant changes in cholesterol, blood pressure and various physical activity levels.
While previous, smaller projects along these lines have connected health-focused text messages with a single health improvement, this new study is the largest to reveal multiple benefits. The investigative team, led by Dr. Clara Chow of the University of Sydney’s George Institute for Global Health in Australia, recruited approximately 700 adults to participate.
The research group’s plan has an expense of $10 per person. If long-term benefits can be demonstrated in a larger group of subjects the plan could very well be a simple, inexpensive method of dealing with heart disease which is the main cause of death globally
Heart patients were randomly assigned to receive the usual medical treatment or the usual medical treatment with the addition of healthy text messages for a period of six months. Approximately one-third of the subjects in the text message group succeeded in meeting target levels for at least four heart disease risk factors as opposed to only 10 percent of the usual medical treatment group. Target goals included not smoking, having blood pressure under 140 over 90 and exercising a minimum of five times each week for half an hour.
Health text messages included such advice as:
- Try identifying the triggers that make you want a cigarette & plan to avoid them.
- Try avoiding adding salt to your foods by using other spices or herbs.
- Walking is cheap. It can be done almost anywhere. All you need is comfortable shoes & clothing.
Chow concluded that the benefits could “reduce risk of recurrent heart attacks by at least a quarter if they were maintained long-term. We think it is really important to see if they can be repeated elsewhere in Australia and internationally, and maintained long-term.”
A Text A Day Keeps The Doctor Away.