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Phone Apps Help Patients Reach Health, Fitness Goals

Smartphones can motivate patients to stay on track with lifestyle changes

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THURSDAY, Sept. 1, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Various smartphone apps can help patients adopt a healthy lifestyle that might reduce risk of cardiovascular events, according to a review published online Aug. 31 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Ashkan Afshin, M.D., M.P.H., acting assistant professor of global health at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues analyzed 224 previous studies published between 1990 and 2013.

The team found that individuals using Internet-based interventions ate better, became more active, lost weight, and cut down on their use of tobacco and alcohol. Smartphone interventions (including apps, texts, and voicemail messages) helped people increase their exercise and lose weight.

"Some features of these programs may increase their effectiveness," Afshin told HealthDay. "For example, programs that have components such as goal-setting and self-monitoring and use multiple modes of communication and tailored messages tended to be more effective. We also found these programs were more effective if they included some interactions with health care providers."

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