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McWilliams School of Biomedical Informatics

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How Informatics is Changing Heart Health

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

Heart Muscle Regeneration

February is right around the corner, which is recognized as American Heart Month. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, heart disease causes 1 in 4 deaths throughout the U.S.1 This makes it the leading cause of death for both men and women; fortunately, it is sometimes preventable.

Heart health is important, and biomedical informatics is leading the charge, helping both patients and doctors monitor heart-related disease to protect themselves and their health.

Wearables encourage physical activity

Fitness bands were placed on the market to encourage physical activity, which is good news for heart health. Many cardiovascular diseases can be mitigated by incorporating movement and exercise into your daily routine. Wearables help make that happen.

Even better, many of the wearables on the market track your heart rate. This allows patients to passively collect data that pertains directly to their heart health. While fitness bands do not replace medical expertise, they do give patients an overall idea of their heart rate at any given time.

Genomic testing can indicate risk

Like with many diseases and conditions, genomic testing is able to pinpoint an individual’s risk factor for developing heart disease. With testing growing more affordable by the year, it is easier for everyone to better understand their own DNA.

The results of testing can be used to inform you and help you make healthy decisions. By comparing DNA with a family member who has developed heart disease, you and your other family members can be alerted to your own risk factors.

Telemedicine cuts costs and saves lives

Telemedicine is a win-win for health care providers and patients alike. A 2013 study at the National Taiwan University Hospital found that inpatient costs for non-senior patients with heart disease decreased to just over a quarter compared with patients that did not use telemedicine, and approximately half for senior patients.2

Even more importantly, being able to care for heart disease at home improves patient outcomes, reducing the risk of death and hospitalization.3 Scientists are still determining whether quality of life for heart disease patients monitored through telehealth is improved, but studies suggest that it is not harmful and may even be helpful.4


Through the vast field of bioinformatics, technology and data are working together to help reduce the scope of heart disease’s impact in this country and beyond.

4Effect of Telehealth on Quality of Life and Psychological Outcomes Over 12 Months (Whole Systems Demonstrator Telehealth Questionnaire Study): Nested Study of Patient Reported Outcomes in a Pragmatic, Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial