As an innovative feature of the YOUNG50 project, the Coordinating Team at Azienda ULSS6 Euganea has commissioned the development of a new YOUNG50 smartphone application, which is close to being launched through the Apple and Android stores. It is designed to facilitate and enhance the collection of follow-up data by YOUNG50 participants.
Participants are screened for the presence of lifestyle-related risk factors for cardiovascular disease: smoking, poor diet, unhealthy alcohol consumption, and/or lack of physical activity, all of which are modifiable.
Some screenees have one or more unhealthy lifestyle factors, but have bloodwork within the normal range. This means they are at risk of cardiovascular disease without knowing. Members of this group are invited to select just one lifestyle factor and to commit to improving it over a period of time.
During the screening visit they receive counselling and are provided with targeted information on practical ways to improve their heart health. Those opting to become more physically active, for example, are given suggestions on appropriate local facilities and groups, such as Nordic walking clubs or aqua aerobics courses. Others wishing to quit smoking are directed towards tobacco cessation programmes. And so on. They are then invited back for a follow-up visit after six months to see how they are faring and to establish whether or not improvements have been made.
This is where the YOUNG50 smartphone application comes in.
The YOUNG50 app helps participants keep track of their efforts and see any lifestyle changes they are making in a systematic, user-friendly way. Data collection is rather like a diary. It is also designed to provide trends over time, deliver motivational messages, suggest healthy recipes and daily exercises, and update information on local programmes, courses and initiatives that can help achieve measurable improvement in the chosen risk factor. Using the app keeps participants more engaged and more in tune with their heart health. On returning for a check-up visit after six months, they can simply download all the data recorded during the follow-up period and confer with the screening health provider on the findings.
Moreover, besides simplifying and motivating engagement with follow-up, the app also ensures the reliability and high quality of the data collected and reported by the participants. This is particularly important for assessing the effectiveness of the cardiovascular screening and prevention programme.
The YOUNG50 smartphone app is destined to serve as an important tool in the fight against cardiovascular disease in Europe.