Prevention programs are a key part of cardiac rehabilitation, however few people attend. So cardiac researchers from the University of Sydney have created a new game to prevent heart attacks among people who have suffered a cardiac event.
MyHeartMate is aimed at helping you make lifestyle changes to improve your heart health such as increasing physical activity, improving diet, quitting smoking and reducing stress. It also helps you manage medications while keeping track of your blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
Heart disease is one of Australia's biggest health problems. It affects 1.4 million people, and causes 54,000 heart attacks every year.
"An important part of recovering from a heart attack is preventing any future attacks," says Dr Lis Neubeck from Sydney Nursing School and Charles Perkins Centre.
"We know that prevention programs for heart disease reduce deaths and subsequent cardiac events, however only a minority of people take part in these, so we've developed a fun and interactive way to improve heart health for people who don’t want to take part in a traditional program.
In MyHeartMate you look after your "virtual heart", play games, and take on real-world challenges that keep your real and digital heart healthy. The goal that as your digital heart gets healthier, so does your own heart.
Free to download on smartphones and tablets, the game allows you to set and update challenges, record and track progress, be rewarded for real-world missions, participate in quizzes, invite and motivate friends and be motivated to attend cardiac rehabilitation and educational events.
MyHeartMate is designed so that full time workers or rural patients can access it easily, either independently or with a healthcare professional. There';s also an established online community via social media.
Professor Gemma Figtree from Sydney Medical School, added "Although elements of gamification have been incorporated into heart health apps in the past, MyHeartMate is the first to fully integrate evidence-based real-world challenges with a digital game."