The effect of a game-based mobile app 'MyHeartMate' to promote lifestyle change in coronary disease patients: a randomized controlled trial

Robyn Gallagher*, Clara K Chow, Helen Parker, Lis Neubeck, David S Celermajer, Julie Redfern, Geoffrey Tofler, Thomas Buckley, Tracy Schumacher, Karice Hyun, Farzaneh Boroumand, Gemma Figtree

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


AIMS: Secondary prevention reduces coronary heart disease (CHD) progression. Traditional prevention programs including cardiac rehabilitation are under-accessed, which smartphone apps may overcome. To evaluate the effect of a game-based mobile app intervention (MyHeartMate) to improve cardiovascular risk factors and lifestyle behaviours.

METHODS AND RESULTS: Single-blind randomized trial of CHD patients in Sydney, 2017-2021. Intervention group were provided the MyHeartMate app for 6 months. Co-designed features included an avatar of the patient's heart and tokens earned by risk factor work (tracking, challenges, and quizzes). The control group received usual care. Primary outcome was self-reported physical activity [metabolic equivalents (METs), Global Physical Activity Questionnaire] and secondary outcomes included lipid levels, blood pressure (BP), body mass index, and smoking. Pre-specified sample size was achieved ( n = 390), age 61.2 ± 11.5 years; 82.5% men and 9.2% current smokers. At 6 months, adjusted for baseline levels, the intervention group achieved more physical activity than control (median difference 329 MET mins/wk), which was not statistically significant (95% CI -37.4, 696; P = 0.064). No differences occurred between groups on secondary outcomes except for lower triglyceride levels in the intervention [mean difference -0.3 (95% CI -0.5, -0.1 mmoL/L, P = 0.004)]. Acceptability was high: 94.8% of intervention participants engaged by tracking exercise or BP and completing missions; 26.8% continued to engage for ≥30 days. Participants ( n = 14) reported the app supported tracking behaviours and risk factors, reinforcing and improving self-care confidence, and decreasing anxiety.

CONCLUSION: A game-based app proved highly acceptable for patients with CHD but did not improve risk factors or lifestyle behaviours other than triglyceride levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-42
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean heart journal. Digital health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2023
Externally publishedYes


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