Fitness for the heart

Insured persons with high blood pressure have the opportunity to participate in the program “AOK Heart Health Digital”. Using an app and accompanied by a coach, they can significantly improve their values ​​through training in just twelve weeks.

“It was a gradual process,” says Matthias Rathje. The former striker stopped playing football in the mid-40s. The man from Bremen put on weight, moved even less and continued to put on weight. At one point, his family doctor diagnosed him with high blood pressure. High blood pressure can speed up the calcification of the vessels and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease such as heart attack or stroke. According to figures from the Federal Statistical Office, a total of 985,572 people died of cardiovascular disease by 2020, which is the most common cause of death in Germany.

Change your lifestyle

Stress, lack of exercise and overweight are among the critical factors that can be positively affected by a different lifestyle. Matthias Rathje therefore accepted his doctor’s proposal to participate in the twelve-week care program “Heart Health Digital” run by AOK Bremen / Bremerhaven, which places special emphasis on exercise.

The 53-year-old is being cared for by a coach from the utility company CAREtower, with whom AOK has signed a contract for the program. To start with, the sports researcher who works as a coach asked him a series of questions on the phone, for example about his age, height, weight and fitness level. Based on these data, she developed an individual training plan for him, a mix of strength training and endurance sports.

digital coach

For training, AOK has equipped Rathje with the “myHeartHealth” app and a chest belt for heart rate measurement. In the app he has installed on his smartphone, he sees his plan for the week: exercises with and without dumbbells and other aids, explained in the form of videos and text instructions. He should also cycle about 30 minutes five times a week. His heart rate measurements are sent to the app from the chest strap.
There is also an integrated “digital coach” in the app, which provides spoken instructions during the training, so that patients train in an optimal heart rate range. In addition to heart rate values, the app also collects data such as speed, altitude, distance traveled and calorie consumption. In the beginning and after two, six and ten weeks there are discussions with the coach, the training plan is adapted according to progress.

measure blood pressure

Matthias Rathje received another device for the digital health program. He uses it to measure his blood pressure in the morning and in the evening. In addition, a so-called pulse wave measurement is performed to explore the condition of the blood vessels. “Due to the aging process, lack of exercise and other stressful factors, the vessel walls become harder and more rigid,” explains Dr. Ertan Dogu, cardiologist and sports doctor in cardiological-angiological practice at the Heart Center Bremen. “If the blood pressure also rises, the walls continue to lose elasticity, increasing the load on the heart and circulation.”

The results are always clear

The blood pressure and pulse wave readings are therefore automatically sent to the app on Rathje’s smartphone and to the attending physician, who regularly discusses them with him. “If you have persistent high blood pressure that cannot be traced back to a known cause such as kidney or heart disease, your values ​​will definitely improve with regular exercise during the program,” says Dr. Ertan Dogu. “There are enough studies that have shown that it works.”

success after a short time

It also worked for Matthias Rathje: After eight weeks, his upper blood pressure is already below the critical limit of 140, and it has also dropped. “The program showed me that you can do a lot with exercise and nutrition,” he says. And that’s why he wants to be briefed now. Together with two colleagues, he participated in the campaign “On a bike to work” organized by AOK and the General German Bicycle Club (ADFC), and once a week he goes to dance with his partner. (afu)

Heart health program

In the program “AOK Heart Health Digital”, the insured participates in a twelve-week sports medicine training program with the aim of improving cardiovascular health. Patients between the ages of 20 and 75 who suffer from high blood pressure can participate. This is the case if an upper blood pressure value of 140 mmHG and higher was repeatedly measured at the doctor’s office. Anyone with AOK insurance who is interested in the program can get advice directly from the AOK partner CAREtower after filling out an online form. After consent, CAREtower will then contact the doctor treating you.

More information: aok.de/hb/herzgesundheit-digital

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