Patients Who Receive Lifestyle Text Messages Show Improved Health

Publication Date: 
Mon, 08/15/2016
By: Alere Staff

Are you wearing a fitness tracker device to keep track of your daily steps? Does it remind you how many steps remain to achieve your daily goal? Or maybe you have an app on your phone that keeps track of how many miles you have covered on your bicycle ride. Have you used the phone app that tells you how many calories you should consume daily and records your caloric intake (even including calorie counts on foods at hundreds of popular restaurants across the country)? As technology advances, we have more and more ways to remind us to live a healthy lifestyle. 

Clara K. Chow, PhD, of the Georgia Institute for Global Health at the University of Sydney, and colleagues, found a “statistically significant, but modest, clinical reduction in LDL cholesterol at six months in patients receiving regular motivational text messages versus patients who did not receive the messages.” The messages included reminders on diet, exercise and smoking cessation and were semi-personalized and delivered by mobile phone texting. They received four motivational text messages per week for six months. The trial included 710 patients with coronary heart disease (352 patients received the messages while 358 did not).  All patients also received their usual care. LDL levels in the patients who received the text messages were 5 mg/dl lower than those in the control group who did not. 

The study also looked at systolic blood pressure (which was 7.6mg/dl lower in the group receiving texts), and BMI (1.3 lower in the text group). 

The group receiving the messages exercised more and they were less likely to be smokers. Most patients in the text messaging arm of the study reported that “the messages were useful and easy to understand, and were of appropriate frequency”.  The population in the study had relatively high rates of participation in cardiac rehabilitation, suggesting “that messaging programs like TEXT ME could compliment other programs like cardiac rehabilitation programs and provide ongoing support”. 

In an accompanying editorial, Zubin J. Eapen, MD and Eric D. Peterson, MD, MPH, of the Duke Clinical Research Institute in Durham, N.C. wrote that the potential impact of digital mobile technologies for facilitating improvements in health is huge. 

Reference: 

  1. Boyles, S. TXTing Inspires Some Life Changes in Heart Patients. Medpage Today. Sept. 23, 2015. Retrieved from the website: http://www.medpagetoday.com/Cardiology/Hypertension/53692.