Tool that designs personalized workouts for individuals could reduce heart disease

In an effort to reduce and prevent the incidence of heart disease, researchers in Europe have developed a new tool that designs personalized workouts for patients at risk or living with the condition.

Called the European Association of Preventive Cardiology Exercise Prescription in Everyday Practice and Rehabilitative Training (EXPERT) tool, the program creates exercise routines with varying intensities and frequencies based on the severity of a patient’s risk factors. Research on the development of the program was published April 19 in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

"Exercise reduces cardiovascular risk, improves body composition and physical fitness, and lowers mortality and morbidity," said Dominique Hansen, the lead author on the study and an associate professor in exercise physiology and rehabilitation of internal diseases at Hasselt University in Diepenbeek, Belgium, in a statement. "But surveys have shown that many clinicians experience great difficulties in prescribing specific exercise programs for patients with multiple cardiovascular diseases and risk factors."

Physicians can input patient’s cardiovascular risk factors, diseases and other chronic conditions into the program and it will automatically design a personalized exercise program for the patients. The program also takes into account best practices for patients who are overweight, or are struggling with diabetes and hypertension.

"EXPERT generates an exercise prescription and safety precautions since certain patients are not allowed to do certain exercises,” Hansen said. “For example, a diabetic patient with retinopathy should not do high-intensity exercise. This tool is the first of its kind. It integrates all the international recommendations on exercise to calculate the optimum training program for an individual patient. It really is personalized medicine."

Looking ahead, Hansen wants to launch clinical trials that test the program’s effect on patient outcomes.