The Women’s Heart Disease Awareness: Digital Intervention, Creating Change group seeks to identify barriers to heart disease awareness and explore pathways to change on a personal individual level as well as a community and population level that lead to improved women’s heart health.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of mortality for women in the United States; accounting for more deaths than breast cancer, cervical cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease combined. In fact, more than double the number of women than men die of heart disease each year. CVD affects women of all ages, and more troublingly, the rate of death in young women on the rise. Despite this, while the majority of women age 40-60 have at least one risk factor for CVD, very few have had this risk assessed by their doctor. Women are also less likely to get lifestyle advice or be given medications to prevent heart disease compared to men with a similar risk profile. Further, nearly half of women are still not aware that CVD kills more women than cancer and only about a third of Hispanic and African American women identify it as the number one cause of death.
In order to effect real change, we must not only find ways to increase awareness of heart disease in women, but also identify ways to get women to make lasting changes in their lifestyle. This group proposes to study whether one specific tool, a mobile health App called Love My Heart, is better able achieve these goals compared with usual care. In addition, we hope as a multidisciplinary group that has united faculty from different departments, to explore more broadly ways digital tools and social media can improve health education and identify what factors, i.e. fear, empowerment, etc. promote women to exercise more and eat healthier, lifestyle changes that historically have been hard to achieve with a more traditional approach.There are currently more than 165,000 mHealth apps available and 3 billion were downloaded by consumers in 2015, but so many questions about the role of technology in health care remain unanswered. For example, can self assessment of risk compensate for inadequate health system screenings? Can gameification of heart healthy goals promote better adherence and outcomes? Can social media mediate the stigma of heart disease in women? We hope by providing a forum for this discussion we will encourage further research in this developing field.