Heart surgery patient adopts healthy lifestyle, thanks to an app

Mr Veradej Phipatanasuphorn began using digital platform Cardiatrics after undergoing open heart surgery and went from being overweight at 81kg (left) to 70.5kg now.
Mr Veradej Phipatanasuphorn began using digital platform Cardiatrics after undergoing open heart surgery and went from being overweight at 81kg to 70.5kg (above) now.ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG
Mr Veradej Phipatanasuphorn began using digital platform Cardiatrics after undergoing open heart surgery and went from being overweight at 81kg (left) to 70.5kg now.
Mr Veradej Phipatanasuphorn began using digital platform Cardiatrics after undergoing open heart surgery and went from being overweight at 81kg (above) to 70.5kg now.PHOTO: COURTESY OF VERADEJ PHIPATANASUPHORN

A computer programmer by trade, he had an unsustainable lifestyle - a lot of stress, little sleep, no exercise and a reckless diet.

Mr Veradej Phipatanasuphorn, 41, never tried to change his lifestyle until he was diagnosed with a heart murmur last year, followed by a near-fatal valve rupture.

After his open heart surgery, his cardiologist, Dr Derek Yong, recommended that the father of two try Cardiatrics, a digital-based platform aimed at preventing diseases such as heart conditions and diabetes through lifestyle changes.

The digital platform designs a lifestyle plan for patients based on their health and lifestyle concerns, particularly for those who are at risk of chronic illnesses.

For over four months, Mr Phipatanasuphorn used the app daily, recording each meal, ensuring he had the prescribed amount of sleep and attending exercise workshops online. "The app was a simple way to introduce myself to a healthier life, and there is easy access to the coaches and feedback. It is not a miracle cure; it took dedication and patience to send pictures of every meal and be conscious about following the tips and advice,"he said.

Dr Peter Ting, cardiologist at Gleneagles Hospital as well as co- founder and chief medical officer at Cardiatrics, the firm behind the app, said: "We want to focus on preventative care, targeting people at the earlier stages of their lives."

Having been a cardiologist for over 10 years, Dr Ting said: "Usually when patients come in, it is after a heart attack, but by the time these symptoms kick in, it is already too late. We are no longer curing but just stabilising them."

The firm aims to reach people aged between 30 and 60 with a lifestyle intervention programme that can prevent chronic illnesses. The app was designed and developed by Dr Ting in conjunction with fellow co-founder Mervyn Fathianathan and their team.

The app costs users $200 for a Cardiatrics Risk Assessment and $500 a month for a Personalised Preventive Treatment for a minimum of two months. The firm currently has a promotional offer of an assessment for $100 and a lifestyle plan for $200 a month.

"Preventative care and lifestyle management have been proven to work, and can treat early-stage clinical difficulties as well as - if not better than - medication," Dr Ting said. "People always skip the lifestyle change and go straight to the medication because they think it's too hard. But we want people to realise that it is possible to live healthily and still enjoy life."

The people behind Cardiatrics include cardiologists, dietitians, exercise specialists and even psychologists, so patients can access separate services in one place.

The patient's doctor or general practitioner also plays an integral role in the treatment, prescribing the use of the app alongside or in place of medication. The GP is also a face-to-face contact point for the patient. Cardiatrics is currently working with 20 local doctors.

Cheow Sue-Ann

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 28, 2017, with the headline 'Heart surgery patient adopts healthy lifestyle, thanks to an app'. Print Edition | Subscribe