Living a healthy life is a top priority for most people, and everyone naturally wants a healthy heart and cardiovascular system. But cardiac risk factors are nearly universal, and exceedingly complex. Some risks are more avoidable than others.

While the individual likelihood to develop cardiovascular disease varies from one person to the next, the need to continually advance cardiovascular care is always critical—as someone, somewhere, will always have a need. More than 80 million Americans have heart disease, about a quarter of the country’s population, making cardiovascular-related conditions among the most prevalent in our society today.

It is important to remember that cardiac care is not necessarily limited to physical healthcare establishments. Rather, it should follow the patient on a virtual journey that is as alive and dynamic as they are. That’s where remote cardiac monitoring comes in. In this blog post, we will unpack the most common cardiac risk factors and discuss why remote monitoring is so important to the cardiac healthcare of our population at large.

The Three Major Cardiac Risk Factors

There are many cardiac risk factors that contribute to heart disease in the U.S. Nearly half of all Americans have at least one out of three risk factors, which include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking.

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can affect organs like the heart, kidneys, and brain. It is considered the silent killer, as there are typically no symptoms associated with high blood pressure. In the fact, the only way to determine your blood pressure level with certainty is to measure it.

High blood cholesterol (LDL or “bad” cholesterol), prompted by diet, activity level, and genetics, can build up in artery walls, resulting in decreased blood flow to all major parts of the body. High cholesterol also typically has no symptoms, so it should also be checked by a physician, usually with a blood test.

Finally, smoking damages a person’s heart and blood vessels, which inhibits blood flow to major organs. Nicotine also increases blood pressure, and carbon monoxide from cigarettes reduces how much oxygen the blood carries. For patients who have smoked in their lifetime or currently smoke today, risk factors are naturally higher, making proactive monitoring of cardiac-related indicators critical.

Other frequently cited risk factors for heart disease include socioeconomic status, physical inactivity, obesity, diabetes, poor diet, high alcohol consumption, hormonal birth control pills, and stress.

Non-Modifiable Cardiac Risk Factors

Despite making the best attempts at living a healthy lifestyle and not smoking (i.e. mitigating modifiable cardiovascular disease risk factors), genetics and family history also play a significant role in a person’s risk for heart disease. These are known as non-modifiable—or uncontrollable—risk factors.

Race and ethnicity may affect how susceptible someone is to cardiovascular disease. For example, a higher percentage of American Indian/Alaskan Natives have been diagnosed with heart disease, while Asian/Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders have the lowest percentage out of all others. The following details the percentage of adults diagnosed with heart disease in the United States by ethnicity:

  • American Indian/Alaskan Native – 11.3%
  • Other – 7.5%
  • White – 7.0%
  • Black – 5.5%
  • Hispanic – 4.4%
  • Asian/Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander – 3.5%

Heart disease also affects the Caucasian population in the United States, as cardiovascular disease ranked as a leading cause of death in 2019, and, combined with cancer as the second leading cause, accounted for 44.6% of all deaths.

Heart disease affects all ages, but the risk does increase as a person grows older. Women are typically diagnosed at an older age than men, possibly due to hormonal changes from menopause, but heart disease remains the leading cause of death for men and women. In 2019, 22% of women’s deaths were from heart disease, with cancer following closely at 20.5%.

Fortunately, the risk of heart disease in U.S. adults age 65 and older decreased from 30.9% in 1999-2000 to 28.5% in 2017-2018—and we’re counting on that trend to continue. However, the risk slightly increased for Americans who are 18 and older, from 11.3% in 2000-2001 to 11.8% in 2017-2018.

For clinicians like you, these facts and figures are well known and not at all surprising. In fact, you might have some of these statistics memorized as they frequently come up during your patient interactions.

The important takeaways here? (Almost) everyone has a cardiac risk factor, and we all need to be proactive about monitoring key indicators of cardiac health. For those already impacted by heart disease, our priority needs to be on continuous monitoring and convenience to improve adherence and outcomes. That leads us to the importance of remote patient monitoring.

The Increasing Need for Remote Patient Monitoring

In the not-too-distant past, when a patient was diagnosed with heart disease it would mean they could expect frequent trips to the hospital, numerous medical appointments, and constantly changing devices to perform different tests—which were all very time consuming for both the patient and their clinician. This led to issues like treatment non-adherence, which has a direct negative impact on patient outcomes.

Meanwhile, patients with high cardiac risk factors were left to wait it out. In many scenarios, particularly those in which no additional symptoms were present, this results in disaster—the discovery of cardiac disease when it is advanced and most challenging to address.

Remote patient monitoring in cardiology has the power to reimagine these models without sacrificing data integrity. Its promise? New levels of convenience, adherence, proactivity, visibility, and outcomes—a powerful win-win-win for the patient, their clinician, and the provider. Let’s look at how virtual telemetry can support the remote monitoring needs of five different cardiac patients.

  • For a patient with no major risk factors: For patients with none of the major cardiac risk factors, virtual telemetry can be applied as part of primary care to uncover anomalies early and proactively, while also enabling monitoring with a broad range of other peripherals.
  • For a patient with cardiac risk factors: For patients that have a history of cardiac risk factors, whether modifiable or non-modifiable, virtual telemetry plays an important role in early arrhythmia detection and diagnostics.   
  • For a patient with early indicators of heart disease: For patients that show signs of developing heart disease, remote telemetry is a key tool in monitoring the progression of that disease and its impact on cardiac indicators over time.
  • For a patient with advanced heart disease: For patients with more advanced heart disease, virtual telemetry can bring hospital-grade monitoring into the comfort of a patient’s home—enabling clinicians to monitor even the most complex conditions from afar.
  • For a patient post operation: For patientswho have just undergone a cardiac operation or other serious surgical procedure, virtual telemetry can provide continual visibility into cardiac performance long after the postoperative period without keeping the patient in the hospital.  

At InfoBionic, we have always been committed to reimagining accepted models for remote cardiac monitoring to improve data integrity, process efficiency, and ease of use. Today, we are building upon our track record of quality and innovation through the development of a powerful remote telemetry platform that can live at the center of your virtual care strategy. Our vision for the MoMe™ ARC Platform is to accommodate a full range of acuity, anywhere virtual care is delivered to support the needs of each and every patient.

To learn about our powerful vision for remote cardiac telemetry, contact us today.

*Currently pending FDA approval