Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, claiming 18 million lives each year. However, many risk factors for heart disease are modifiable, including high blood pressure. For the last several years Forward’s Heart Health Program has helped our members reduce their risk of heart disease and improve their overall heart health. In order to better understand the impact of our program on risk factors for heart disease, we conducted a randomized, controlled trial of Forward’s Heart Health Program for members with high blood pressure.
Our heart health program is a 12-week doctor-led program designed to help participants manage their blood pressure, cholesterol, diet and physical activity levels. The program includes comprehensive blood testing, weekly monitoring of weight and blood pressure, and diet and exercise optimization.
The program begins an initial visit with a physician to assess the participant’s heart health status and set goals for the program. Participants receive reminders three times per week to submit blood pressure readings and participate in weekly check-ins with their doctor via an app chat feature during the first month and every two weeks thereafter. A midpoint review by the primary care physician provides feedback via chat, and a final 12-week visit is included. Participants receive continuous feedback on their progress and are issued challenges based on their achievements. They receive a 12-week curriculum on heart health diets and exercise via their Forward app.
All members are eligible to participate in Forward’s Heart Health Program, because we believe that everyone can improve their heart health and lower their risk of heart disease. For this analysis we focused on members with elevated blood pressure at baseline, specifically those with an average reading of 135/85 or greater or an average reading of 130/80 with an active hypertension-related issue in their chart. We randomly assigned 1,090 of these members to either be invited to the program or to receive usual primary care with their Forward doctor.
Forward’s Heart Health Program has shown impressive results in engaging members and reducing blood pressure. Here are the key results:
- On average, hypertensive members who completed the program reduced their systolic blood pressure by 7.4 mmHg and their diastolic blood pressure by 5.7 mgHg. This was 7.1 mmHg and 5.2 mmHg more than those who were not invited to the program. These changes are on par with starting a blood pressure medication, even though the program did not start participants on medications.
- Enrollees in the program were more likely to submit blood pressure readings, with 96% of participants submitting a blood pressure reading from home versus only 60% of members not invited to the program. 85% of enrollees submitted 5 or more readings versus only 17% of members not invited to participate.
- Members who completed Forward’s Heart Health Program were four times more likely to hit their blood pressure goal. If sustained, these reductions in blood pressure have been shown to reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events by 14%, stroke by 18%, heart failure by 20%, ischemic heart disease by 10%, and cardiovascular death by 7%. Members who completed our program achieved blood pressure levels that, if sustained, would increase life expectancy by an average of 2.6 years.
Our heart health program has shown that it is possible to reduce blood pressure and improve overall heart health through a comprehensive, doctor-led digital health program. The results demonstrate that Forward’s Heart Health program can greatly reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events, stroke, heart failure, ischemic heart disease, and cardiovascular death.
The high rate of engagement and adherence to the program among participants highlights the potential for this type of program to be effective in managing blood pressure and improving overall health outcomes.
Forward members who completed our Heart Health Program were dramatically more likely to lower their blood pressure and achieve their health goals than those who didn’t. The program’s comprehensive approach, which includes regular monitoring, doctor-led support, and lifestyle interventions, is effective in lowering risk of heart disease and improving member’s long-term health.
By enrolling in the Forward heart health program, you’ll receive comprehensive blood testing, personalized goal setting, and weekly monitoring of weight and blood pressure, all led by our team of dedicated doctors. Take control of your heart health today and join us on the path towards a healthier life.