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Calling All Heart Patients

Phone, Internet interventions can improve prognosis for cardiac disease, researchers say

WEDNESDAY, June 17 (HealthDay News) -- Telephone or Internet-based interventions may help heart attack survivors and other cardiac patients improve their heart health and reduce their risk of future cardiac events, Australian researchers say.

They reviewed published randomized trials evaluating the use of phone- or Internet-based interventions in cardiac rehabilitation programs. Two of the interventions were Internet-based; all others were by telephone.

"We aimed to determine if, in a world increasingly dominated by electronic technology, interventions for preventing recurrent coronary disease could be delivered in innovative ways to enable more people to access effective secondary prevention," the study's lead author, Lis Neubeck of Concord Repatriation General Hospital in Sydney, said in a news release from the European Society of Cardiology.

"Our analysis, which involved more than 3,000 patients across 11 studies, suggests that the electronic age is indeed providing effective alternatives for the delivery of preventive health change," Neubeck added.

The researchers found that patients who took part in these telehealth interventions had a 30 percent lower death rate than patients without the interventions. The telehealth patients also had lower total cholesterol levels, lower levels of systolic blood pressure and lower rates of smoking.

The study appears in the June issue of the European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention & Rehabilitation.

People are "increasingly time-poor," which can make it difficult for them to attend cardiac-rehabilitation programs at hospitals or other facilities, according to Neubeck, who stated: "Utilizing electronic technologies has the potential to increase access for these services without compromising outcomes."

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more about cardiac rehabilitation.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: European Society of Cardiology, news release, June 16, 2009

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