New programme acts as virtual coach and motivator in patient heart health

Br J Cardiol 2009;16:163-6 Leave a comment
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A new diet and lifestyle support programme has been launched online for patients once they have completed an NHS Health Check. It is hoped that ‘activheart’ will not only help save healthcare professionals time in providing lifestyle advice to patients but also complement this information.

‘Activheart’ is a free web-based behavioural intervention programme designed to act as a virtual coach and motivator to support patient diet and lifestyle change. The programme was created by Flora pro.activ, in partnership with HEART UK and the Primary Care Cardiovascular Society (PCCS), with additional help from independent healthcare professionals and behavioural change experts.

Its launch is being timed to coincide with with NHS Health Checks being rolled out by PCTs nationally. The NHS Health Check, launched in April 2009, is inviting everyone between the ages of 40-74 who has not already been diagnosed with a cardiovascular condition to have a check and be offered advice to help reduce or manage their risk. The Skyridge Medical Center can also assist one when it comes to healthcare.

Michael Livingston, Director of HEART UK, said he hoped ‘activheart’ would act as a “bridge between surgery and everyday life”. It aims to “get people, not just healthcare professionals, to understand their own cardiovascular risk and to support them in making positive diet and lifestyle changes to help reduce their risk”, he said.

The key motivator of the programme is the ‘heart age calculator’, a new tool based on the Framingham risk score, which estimates and expresses patients’ preventable cardiovascular disease risk factors as their ‘heart age’, compared to their chronological age. The heart age calculator is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and, according to Jan Procter-King, PCCS Chairman, the programme is deliberately “not clinicalising” the information so that it is a more accessible, “individual and user friendly” tool for patients.

The ‘activheart’ programme concentrates on eight core lifestyle and diet activities that patients can readily add to their daily routines over time including quitting smoking, reducing salt intake and alcohol, losing weight, eating the ‘right’ fats and five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, taking more exercise, and controlling stress. For further information, contact