Stanford's heart health app launches in Hong Kong and UK

Updates to the MyHeart Counts app include more feedback from other users to help participants improve their own heart health and further contribute to the study.

The MyHeart Counts app, which launched in March, has already garnered 41,000 users who have agreed to participate in a study of cardiovascular health.
Norbert von der Groeben

MyHeart Counts, an iPhone app that allows users to learn about their own heart health while also participating in a large-scale study designed by cardiologists at the Stanford University School of Medicine, is available in Hong Kong and the United Kingdom as of today.

MyHeart Counts is the first of the initial handful of apps designed using ResearchKit, Apple’s open-source software platform for creating medical-research apps, to expand overseas.

“The idea is to move into one country at a time until we go global,” said Euan Ashley, MD, a professor of cardiovascular medicine at Stanford and co-investigator for the MyHeart Counts study. “We hope to add more countries every few months.”

The app collects data about physical activity and cardiac risk factors for Stanford scientists studying the prevention and treatment of heart disease. They aim to make MyHeart Counts the largest study of measured physical activity and cardiovascular health to date.

A new version of the iPhone app is also being launched today. Researchers are encouraging the more than 41,000 users who have agreed to participate in the study to upgrade to the new version.

“Now, we’re actually giving data back to the participants,” Ashley said. “For example, the participants can see where they fall in relation to others on their 6-minute walk test.”

Euan Ashley

‘Ready to take the study as far as it will go’

The MyHeart Counts app was launched in March as a way for users to learn about their heart health while helping advance the field of cardiovascular medicine. Built on Apple’s ResearchKit framework, the app uses the iPhone’s built-in motion sensors to collect data on physical activity and other cardiac risk factors for a research study.

“We are ready to take the study as far as it will go. We would like to build a new Framingham heart study for the ages,” Ashley said, referring to the long-term cardiovascular study that has followed three generations of participants in Framingham, Massachusetts. “We would like millions of participants.”

The free app offers users a simple way to participate in the study, complete tasks and answer surveys from their iPhones. Once every three months, participants are asked to monitor one week’s worth of physical activity, complete a 6-minute walk fitness test if they are able to, and enter their risk-factor information. The app now also delivers a comprehensive summary of each user’s heart health and areas for improvement.

The new version of the app focuses on empowering participants with more feedback about their individual behaviors and risk, based on the American Heart Association’s “Life’s Simple 7” recommendations. “We’ll now be providing feedback about physical activity, diet, blood pressure and cholesterol levels,” said Michael McConnell, MD, professor of cardiovascular medicine and principal investigator for the study.

Researchers are reporting that they have collected the most data ever on the 6-minute walk fitness test for a single study. The new version of the app will include information comparing the user’s data to others participating in the fitness test, as well as a newsfeed section that provides updates on heart health news.

To download the app, visit https://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=972189947&mt=8&ls=1


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