Take control of your heart health – with your iPhone!
With all of the emphasis on fitness trackers and the quantified self, your steps taken, waist size, bicep size or even the number of friends you have on Facebook are not the most important numbers you should be tracking! In this post Tony DeYoung from Hello Heart App discusses how we can use our phone to track the numbers that really matter to long term health.
The numbers that matter most are those that track your heart health and keep you feeling good. Number one is blood pressure. High blood pressure is not just a middle age or old person problem. It can happen to anyone regardless of age or lifestyle. One in five young adults (ages 24-32) suffer from high blood pressure or hypertension. Pre-hypertension is even very common among career-oriented men and women who make the effort to get to the gym regularly.
So why do blood pressure numbers matter so much? Because 75% of all strokes and heart attacks are related to high BP. You definitely don’t want to be “that guy” that died of a heart attack at 30.
We all should be tracking our heart’s health — tracking blood pressure on a regular basis and understanding our cholesterol and triglycerides levels — even if you are young or feel symptom-free.
We luckily live in the age of connected devices so we can now take charge of our own heart health. Medical doctors can be the experts on the population; we can be the experts about ourselves.
So what should you do? Occasional blood pressure checks at the doctor’s office are not enough. You need to get an easy to use blood pressure reader, measure your BP at home and track it regularly over time.
Pain in the butt? Use your iPhone to make it faster, more informative and a lot less painful than recording with pen and paper or in Excel.
Why the iPhone?
It’s always with you!
When you track your BP with an App, it’s always with you. You can record a reading and easily track your BP not just at home, but also at the gym or at work. Once you start using an app, you don’t need to work and organize the data in order to find whatever you are looking for – average and peak values will appear automatically and you can easily search for a specific date even if you have tons of data.
Easily understand what happens to you over time.
Research shows that every 10 mm/Hg increase in BP increases your risk for stroke by 11% and cardiovascular disease by 10%. Apps that help you easily graph your results will help you visually see all your info in a weekly/monthly format and let you know how good or bad you are doing with simple color icons. Some apps even send you periodic summaries with your monthly average BP and let you know if it is out of your normal range. Understanding your condition is the first step in taking control of your health.
Know when to reach out for help, don’t let it happen to you!
High blood pressure is the main or secondary cause of 75% of all strokes and heart attacks. When using a good BP app you get an automatic analysis of your info according to the CDC recommendation and easily understand when you are in a hypertensive crisis range and reach out for help.
Easily communicate with your doctor.
When visiting your doctor, you always have all your BP readings that he needs to see with one tap on your iPhone screen. Some apps allow you to have all your medical data on your phone as well – drugs, lab results and other tests so your doctor always have a full picture of your health. When your doctor can easily access all your medical data, you are making sure you are getting the best care.
Reminders to keep you in control of your health!
If your app is HIPAA secured, your data is securely backed up and you can easily set repeated reminder to measure your BP. Enter right from the lock screen without even logging in to the app.
And… Feel better!
When you track your BP on a regular basis, you gain a stronger sense of responsibility for your health. Some people report that once they started to track their BP they got more motivated to control it, and it was easier for them to start changing little things like eating better or taking a short walk every morning.
The good news is that really really small changes in lifestyle and diet can lower blood pressure. The hardest part is to get started and be aware of where you are at– that’s where your iPhone comes in.
Footnote: What kind of BP monitor to use with Hello Heart Blood Pressure tracking software? You can use any manual blood pressure monitor/cuff you buy on Amazon from the $25 models to the most expensive. With these you, use the cuff and type in your numbers into the app. Or if you are a connected digital type, check out iHealth Wireless BP or Withings Wireless BP in the Apple store on on Amazon. You can download Hello Heart on the App store or learn more about how it works here.