A stroke can be devastating and even fatal. Many of the causes of stroke can be prevented by making a few simple changes. Atrial fibrillation is one condition that can lead to a stroke but is an area where the use of technology has the potential to prevent one occurring. Here’s how digital technology is being used to prevent strokes and influence outcomes for patients.
Making Lifestyle Changes
Digital technology is being used to help people at risk of a stroke improve their lifestyle habits and blood pressure using an app. This means it is accessible to those who could experience difficulties with time off work and other commitments. Participants do a simple test to establish their risk and then use an app to monitor fitness levels, diet, blood pressure and more. A meta-analysis by the Mayo Clinic has shown that digital apps are helping people avoid heart attacks and strokes by making lifestyle changes. The study also showed that web portals and telemedicine were the most effective interventions in helping people make changes to their lifestyle and monitor metrics such as blood pressure.
Using Portable Devices
Detecting atrial fibrillation (AF) can be done by checking a pulse but technology is being used to monitor heart rate and rhythm more accurately. Devices such as Alivecor are easy to use, are portable, and recordings of irregular heartbeats can be emailed to a doctor. The device links to a mobile phone or tablet and studies have found that it makes AF easier to detect and treat. This enables the correct treatment to be prescribed and helps avoid a stroke. AF increases the risk of a stroke developing five-fold so recognizing the problem and ensure it is treated correctly is vital.
Digital Adherence Devices
Compliance with taking medication is vital to ensure treatment is maximized and the patient benefits from the intervention. When a patient is non-compliant for some reason, the risk of developing problems from a condition like atrial fibrillation is increased. Even missing one dose of a novel oral anticoagulant (NOAC) can increase the risk of a stroke developing. A digital adherence device. Increases adherence to a prescription regime and typically connects via a smartphone. Examples of adherence devices include a wearable patch and a smart wireless pill bottle. Artificial intelligence robots provide reminders about taking medication and having regular blood tests.
Decision Support Tools
When people have experienced one stroke they don’t need another one. Decision support tools are useful for monitoring the risk of having a second stroke and identifying areas of lifestyle and metrics to change. A second stroke is usually more deadly than the first. The Starr Project aims to reduce risk on people using digital interventions to influence lifestyle habits. This project also empowers patients to make decisions about their habits and risk factors.
Strokes are devastating but taking control of lifestyle risk factors and atrial fibrillation by using digital tools is beginning to impact cardiovascular parameters which help patients make decisions about their future. It also saves resource by promoting health and avoiding serious medical conditions developing. By taking control of lifestyle issues using digital technology, a patient can prevent a stroke and live a healthy life.