FIVE WAYS TO USE TECHNOLOGY TO HELP YOUR HEART
Technology can sometimes be a scary thing. For some it conjures up images of artificial intelligence, robots, and facial recognition. But oftentimes we forget about the positive impact that technology has on our lives, and particularly on our health. Here are few ways to use technology to your advantage when it comes to staying heart healthy.
While it’s true that too much social media and screen time can sometimes have a negative impact on health, if it is used the right way staying connected via online communities can be very beneficial. If you’re suffering from a health condition or are preparing for or recovering from a certain procedure, consider joining a Facebook group. Hearing from other people dealing with the same symptoms and concerns that you are and being able to ask questions can help reduce the stress and isolation you may be feeling.
Social media can also be a great source of health information. Doctors, advocacy organizations, hospitals, and other credible sources often post tips, news, event announcements, and even motivational quotes that can help keep you informed and in the right frame of mind. You can even get questions answered by posting comments on articles you see that you may want more information on.
Even the silly side of social media can be beneficial to your health. Laughing at a funny video or meme can activate and relieve your stress response and soothe tension in the short-term. In the long-term, laughter has been shown to relieve pain and boost immunity, according to Mayo Clinic.
Did you know you can track your blood pressure through an app? These days many devices that you use at home, such as a scale or blood pressure monitor, can be connected to your phone, tablet, or computer via Bluetooth or wireless technology. Rather than writing down your daily stats, you can have a record of helpful measurements such as your BMI, weight, and blood pressure ready to show your doctor during your appointments.
Apps can also help you keep track of your diet. Using an app like MyFitnessPal to record the foods you eat and evaluate their nutritional content can provide you with insights into how many calories you are taking in as well as important nutrients like calcium. Discuss your specific nutritional needs with your doctor before setting any goals within apps you download.
Even advocacy and health organizations are getting in on the app craze. My Cardiac Coach is an app created by the American Heart Association to teach patients about their condition and the necessary lifestyle changes they need to make, as well as help patients gain better self-management skills. It can also help track medications.
And speaking of medications, there’s an app for that! If you’re on a lot of medications it can be very confusing and overwhelming to keep track. Medisafe and Med Minder are just a couple of options to help keep you on top of the various pills and supplements your doctor prescribes.
MEAL DELIVERY SERVICES
Not a cook? Don’t let that stop you from eating heart healthy! These days you can order up fresh food tailored to your exact dietary needs right from the comfort of your home (as long as you have a computer, tablet, or phone and an internet connection). Whether you’re looking for low-sodium, meatless, gluten-free, or lower calorie options, many meal delivery services employ nutritionists to develop recipes that are in line with diets frequently prescribed by doctors for various conditions. Fair warning, though, these services can be expensive. Some offer flexibility in frequency, so it may be a more budget-friendly option to receive a few meals per week to supplement your home cooked creations.
Talk with your doctor before purchasing a meal program. They can review the recipes and make sure they fit within the recommended guidelines.
Exercise is a big contributor to our overall health, especially if you have a history of heart issues. But it can easily fall to the wayside as life gets busy. A fitness tracker such as a Fitbit offers a variety of benefits to those who wear them. You can set goals, connect with friends and family members, and get real-time feedback on your progress.
“Fitness trackers are a great tool for heart health,” says Johns Hopkins cardiologist Seth Martin, M.D., M.H.S. “Being more active and changing your habits is important, but it can be difficult. Tracking likely helps a lot of people when combined with a clear goal to shoot for.”
Consistency is key, and be sure to seek out advice from your doctor as you embark on any new regimens or exercise programs.
Medical science is constantly advancing, from making it easier to diagnose problems, to less invasive procedures that offer faster recovery times. For example, open heart surgery was once the primary treatment option for certain conditions, such as heart valve problems. But in the last several years technology involving the use of a catheter to repair and replace valves has become a viable option. By using a catheter rather than opening the chest surgically, patients are often able to recover more quickly and spend less time at the hospital (results vary so be sure to talk to your doctor about your specific situation). And while catheters can also carry some risk, such as the possibility of debris from the body breaking loose during the procedure, embolic protection devices like Sentinel have been developed to help capture this debris.
If you or a loved one is suffering from a medical condition, do some research and talk with your doctor about your options. You never know what new technology is on the horizon!
- 5 Heart Health Apps to Download Now. Available at: https://www.everydayhealth.com/heart-health/heart-health-apps-download-now Accessed Jan. 23, 2019.
- Could a Fitness Tracker Boost your Heart Health? Available at: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/healthy_heart/move_more/could-a-fitness-tracker-boost-your-heart-health Accessed Jan. 23, 2019.
- 10 Heart Health Breakthroughs. Available at: https://health.usnews.com/health-care/patient-advice/slideshows/10-heart-health-breakthroughs?slide=7 Accessed Jan. 23, 2019.
- Use social media to stay healthy. Available at: https://www.humana.com/learning-center/health-and-wellbeing/healthy-living/social-media Accessed Jan. 23, 2019.
- Stress relief from laughter? It’s no joke Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044456 Accessed Jan. 23, 2019.
This educational blog was provided by Boston Scientific. SH-610006-AA