Evidence Summary

What is an Evidence Summary?

Key messages from scientific research that's ready to be acted on

Got It, Hide this
  • Rating:

Web-based interventions are effective in the short term for improving risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease in older individuals

Beishuizen CR, Stephan BC, van Gool WA, et al.  Web-based interventions targeting cardiovascular risk factors in middle-aged and older people: A systematic review and meta-analysis  J Med Internet Res. 2016 Mar; 18(3).

Review question

  • How effective are web-based interventions to manage cardiovascular risk factors in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease in older people?


  • Cardiovascular risk management programs that currently exist are becoming increasingly expensive, with a small but notable positive impact on the daily life of users of the program. Web-based interventions are cheaper, more widely accessible and allow for self-management.
  • Older individuals often have multiple risk factors for cardiovascular disease, or may have already suffered a cardiovascular event. Cardiovascular risk reduction appears to be effective until old age, so the use of web-based interventions for cardiovascular risk factor management in older adults is promising.
  • Previous research has demonstrated that web-based interventions that target a single cardiovascular risk factor can lead to improvements in outcomes. However, this review was conducted to examine the effectiveness of web-based interventions targeting a more holistic range of factors, and in older individuals specifically.

How the review was done

  • A detailed search of four electronic databases for studies published from 1995 to 2014 was conducted. Studies that focused on web-based interventions delivered via the internet for the purpose of cardiovascular risk factor management for individuals aged 50 or older were included in the review.
  • A total of 5,251 articles were identified in searches, and 47 studies were included in the review after assessments for eligibility.
  • This study was funded by the European Union Seventh Framework Programme.

What the researchers found

  • The review found that web-based interventions improve blood pressure, weight, cholesterol levels, physical activity levels, and overall cardiovascular health in older individuals with increased risk of a cardiovascular event.
  • The positive effects of web-based interventions are pronounced in the short term, decline over time, and are most beneficial when combined with human support.


  • This review found that in the short term (less than 12 months), web-based interventions are effective for improving risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease, including blood pressure, cholesterol and physical activity levels. It is important to note that it was observed that these effects decline over time.


Risk factors
Aspects making a condition more likely.
The body's network of blood vessels. It includes the arteries, veins, and capillaries that carry blood to and from the heart.

Related Web Resources

  • Coronary artery disease risk screening

    Health Link B.C.
    Men over 40 and women past menopause or over 50 should get screened for coronary artery disease (CAD) every 1 to 3 years. Your risk is higher if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, abdominal obesity, kidney disease, family history of CAD or if you smoke.
  • High cholesterol: Does reducing the amount of fat in your diet help?

    Informed Health Online
    Eat less saturated fats in your diet to help prevent heart disease. Eat less meat, butter, cheese and cream to improve your health long-term.
  • Statins: Should I Take Them to Prevent a Heart Attack or Stroke?

    This patient decision aid helps people considering taking medicines called statins to lower their risk of heart attack and stroke by comparing the benefits, risks, and side effects of both options. It also includes alternative treatment options to taking statins such as trying to lower risk with lifestyle changes.
DISCLAIMER These summaries are provided for informational purposes only. They are not a substitute for advice from your own health care professional. The summaries may be reproduced for not-for-profit educational purposes only. Any other uses must be approved by the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal (info@mcmasteroptimalaging.org).

Register for free access to all Professional content

Want the latest in aging research? Sign up for our email alerts.

Support for the Portal is largely provided by the Labarge Optimal Aging Initiative. AGE-WELL is a contributing partner. Help us to continue to provide direct and easy access to evidence-based information on health and social conditions to help you stay healthy, active and engaged as you grow older. Donate Today.

© 2012 - 2020 McMaster University | 1280 Main Street West | Hamilton, Ontario L8S4L8 | +1 905-525-9140 | Terms Of Use