Healthy app-titude

A free iPhone app, MyHeart Counts, is allowing users to contribute to a study of human heart health while learning about their own hearts.

The app, developed by Stanford researchers, takes advantage of the iPhone’s built-in motion sensors to track participants’ physical activity and to collect data during a 6-minute walk test. Once every three months, they’re asked to report on one week’s worth of activity and to update their risk-factor information.

Users can also enter data about their risk factors for heart disease and their readings from basic lab tests to get feedback on their chances of developing heart disease and to learn their “heart age.”

Stanford researchers will analyze the data to learn how activity helps the heart. But they will also be looking at how well the app encourages users to exercise and eat well.

“We need to understand how to reach out to modify behavior long before we end up having to see someone for a heart attack or stroke,” says Michael McConnell, MD, professor of cardiovascular medicine and principal investigator for the study.

The app can be downloaded from Apple’s App Store.