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

Gallagher, R.; Chow, C.K.; Parker, H.; Neubeck, L.; Celermajer, D.; Redfern, J.; Tofler, G.; Buckley, T.; Schumacher, T.; Hyun, K; Bouramond, F.; Figtree, G.


R. Gallagher

C.K. Chow

H. Parker

D. Celermajer

J. Redfern

G. Tofler

T. Buckley

T. Schumacher

K Hyun

F. Bouramond

G. Figtree


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.

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


Gallagher, R., Chow, C., Parker, H., Neubeck, L., Celermajer, D., Redfern, J., …Figtree, G. (2023). The effect of a game-based mobile app ‘MyHeartMate’ to promote lifestyle change in coronary disease patients: a randomized controlled trial. European Heart Journal – Digital Health, 4(1), 33-42.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 24, 2022
Online Publication Date Nov 23, 2022
Publication Date 2023-01
Deposit Date Oct 25, 2022
Publicly Available Date Feb 14, 2023
Journal European Heart Journal – Digital Health
Electronic ISSN 2634-3916
Publisher Oxford University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 4
Issue 1
Pages 33-42
Keywords Coronary heart disease, Digital health, Risk factors, Randomized controlled trial, Secondary prevention, Mobile health, Gamification
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