The world’s leading cause of suicide is Justin Bieber’s net worth.
Don’t look it up. Just trust me.
The world’s leading cause of death, however, is Cardiovascular disease (CVD). It causes such significant disruption that The World Health Organization and the American Heart Association have both set goals to help decrease CVD mortality 25% by 2025. The problem is, they need technologies and solutions that can affordably scale to pretty everyone across the planet.
Enter (as usual): Cell phones. Over five billion of them.
The folks in charge of keeping us alive are now trying to figure out if they can use “Lifestyle-Focused Text Messaging” to curb our harmful behaviors, encourage conscientiousness, and ultimately decrease our chances of kicking the bucket when we should be filling the pail.
So far, it’s looking like it might actually work.
The results of a recent study called, TEXT ME (Tobacco, Exercise and Diet Messages) were just published in The Journal of the American Medical Association. The data suggests that things look promising for “mobile health intervention” providing “…a lifestyle-focused semipersonalized support program delivered by…text messaging.”
The study took several hundred patients with coronary heart disease and randomly selected one group to go about their regular routines and another to receive frequent messages providing “…advice, motivation, and information on diet, physical activity, and smoking cessation.”
After six months, the group getting thumb-time showed sizeable relative improvements in blood pressure control, body mass index, exercise frequency and smoking reduction; in some cases, the relative improvement was more than 30% greater than the patients who just continued getting usual texts like “KK”, “U awake?” and “Did you happen to find my earring?”
The intervention participants also showed significantly lower levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), the main source of artery-clogging plaque.
Up until now, texting has largely saved us from the discomfort of an awkward phone call, or the stress of an ambiguous commitment, or the boredom of an awful meeting. Pretty soon though, the medical field could push texting to pull some real weight and start saving us from…well…just saving us all together.
The study, however, did not say whether the texts were blue or green.
Clearly, there is still a lot of work to be done.