A unique collaboration between the heart and stroke charity Croí and a fourth year medical student at NUI Galway has resulted in the novel use of mobile phone technology and medicine to bring heart health education literarily to our fingertips!
Following on from the success of the charity’s Croí MyAction Programme, a cardiovascular disease prevention initiative, targeting individuals at increased risk of heart disease or stroke, Mike McNamara, from Ennis Co. Clare and a fourth year medical student at NUI Galway, has developed two new Apps which have just been launched on the App Store.
Croí FoodWise is a user friendly app which uses a novel traffic light system to inform people on their food shopping choices. Users simply compare the information on the food label with the values assigned to the colours red (unhealthy choice), amber and green (healthy choice).
Croí HeartWise empowers individuals as they attempt to make healthy lifestyle choices. The user can calculate their “Heart Age” by inputting simple information about themselves. They can track their dietary and alcohol consumption patterns and monitor their smoking habits, including how much money they would save if they quit. A detailed physical activity tracker ensures that the user meets the recommended weekly levels of exercise and they can also monitor their goals by observing their progress around a virtual running track.
Announcing the launch of the two new Apps, project supervisor Dr Gerard Flaherty, Senior Lecturer in Clinical Medicine and Medical Education at NUI Galway and Director of the special study module in Preventive Cardiology which is delivered in conjunction with the Croí MyAction team, remarked: “With the widespread use of smartphones and iPads by people of all ages, mobile applications represent a highly effective means of delivering key health promotion messages to a wide audience with the aim of orienting individuals towards healthier lifestyle choices. These apps are a further example of the productive partnership which exists between NUI Galway and Croí as a community partner.”
The Apps are free to download from the App store onto the iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch devices and they will be updated regularly. Since their release, the Apps have been downloaded by users in over 25 countries and Croí HeartWise has already achieved a five star rating in the App store.
Speaking at the launch, Croí CEO, Neil Johnson, indicated that the development of these Apps is directly in keeping with Croí’s aim to educate and motivate people to make heart healthy lifestyle choices. The Croí Foodwise App will help educate shoppers on the rationale for choosing foods with lower saturated fat, sugar and salt levels and the Croí HeartWise App will help highlight the importance of a healthy lifestyle. “In developing these apps, we have once again worked with medical students at NUI Galway, thus strengthening our relationship with the medical faculty at NUI Galway and this is a further step in developing new educational initiatives in preventive cardiology” he said.