Using fitness devices and cell phones, pulmonary hypertension (PH) researchers compared the physical activity of individuals with and without pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) in the first research study published using data collected through the Research Room at the Pulmonary Hypertension Association’s (PHA’s) 2018 International PH Conference and Scientific Sessions in Orlando, Fla.

By collecting data from fitness devices and smart phones, Stephen J. Halliday, M.D., and a team of researchers from Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. – a PHA-accredited Center of Comprehensive Care (CCC) – found that people with PAH have a significantly lower average daily step count than people without PH. The researchers were able to achieve an estimate of regular activity in PAH patients outside of a health care setting and without the Hawthorne effect, in which participants change their behavior when they know they are being observed. This is important information to collect as health care professionals and researchers consider how best to use these fitness devices and smart phones for monitoring changes in people with PAH between clinic visits. Other clinical trials are ongoing to determine whether information collected by these devices can be used in future clinical research.

The authors conducted the survey of 37 people with PAH at the 2018 PHA Conference and 40 healthy controls, 16 of whom attended Conference. A total of 77 people participated in the study, 48 percent of whom reported to have PAH. Participants with PAH were older than those without PAH and were more frequently female. Study participants were asked to provide a daily step count on a survey measured by a commercially available wrist-worn fitness device or a smart phone.

After collecting participants’ data, the researchers analyzed the different types of people who participated in the study, as well as how many steps they reported walking per day. The authors found that on average, participants in the study with PAH walked 3,030 fewer steps per day than participants without PAH.

Since PHA’s first International PH Conference and Scientific Sessions in 1994, PHA has included a unique opportunity for persons with PH, their loved ones, caregivers and PH researchers to collaborate on clinical studies through PHA’s Research Room. This tradition and the participation of thousands of Conference attendees since 1994 has contributed to numerous publications and has helped researchers and health care professionals understand more about PH.

For more information about this study and other PHA-supported research, contact gro.noitaicossahp@hcraeser.

The Research Room at PHA’s 2018 Conference. Photo by Kathleen Sheffer.