A UC San Francisco team has developed an ambitious online cardiovascular study using mobile smartphones, with the goal of enrolling one million people from all over the world to improve heart health.
Through the "Health eHeart Study," which launched Tuesday, physicians hope to better understand how the heart functions and to develop new ways to predict and prevent cardiovascular disease by harnessing the power of online and mobile smartphone technology.
"We hope to be able to collect copious amounts of data on a large segment of the population so we can develop robust and accurate models to predict the occurrence of heart disease in people who don't yet have it, or slow the progression in people who already have heart disease," said cardiac electrophysiologist Jeffrey Olgin, MD, chief of the UCSF Division of Cardiology.
UCSF researchers are working with mobile app developers to collect the information by allowing participants to submit data via a secure online survey. The study uses smartphone technology to measure a participant's heart rate, blood pressure and pulse rate. This information is sent back to researchers, who can make recommendations to help prevent or treat heart disease.
More Precise Health Care Delivery System
"With this platform, we hope to be able to diagnose and treat heart patients more rapidly than is currently done with traditional research, since we'll have a large patient population," Olgin said. "And because these patients are connected to us electronically and through their smartphones, we can deploy the study very quickly."
The apps and certain study-related devices are free to participants. Olgin and his team plan to analyze the data to identify patterns. This will allow them to not only identify "population-based" predictors, but also to identify deviations from baselines. Participants will not receive direct feedback about their health from the study.
A major goal of the Health eHeart Study is to make health care delivery more precise. The concept of Precision Medicine, which emerged from a 2010 National Academy of Sciences report co-authored by UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH, and Charles Sawyers, MD, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, is to transform medical care worldwide by integrating the wealth of data emerging from both the human genome and research on the molecular basis of disease, with information from patients' health records and environmental data. Precision medicine has become a driving vision for UCSF, the nation's largest and most renowned university focused exclusively on health sciences.
Heart Disease is No. One Killer in America
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America for men and women, killing approximately 600,000 people, more than all types of cancer and AIDS combined, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One out of three adults - or 82 million Americans - have heart disease, and every minute a person dies of a heart attack. Coronary heart disease alone costs the United States $108.9 billion each year in health services, medications and lost productivity.
"Most people aren't aware that one out of four deaths in America is due to heart disease," Olgin said. "And a third of people who have cardiovascular disease aren't even aware of their risks. That's why the 'Health eHeart Study' is so important."