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Jul 26, 2011

Improved Home Blood Pressure Management

Phone-based interventions improve blood pressure control in patients.

Chronic high blood pressure, known as hypertension, is a serious condition occurring in 1 in 3 adults in the United States. It occurs when the force of blood against the walls of the arteries is elevated, increasing risk for heart disease, heart failure, stroke and other health problems. Unfortunately, high blood pressure often has no symptoms and many Americans don’t know they have it. And for some patients with diagnosed hypertension, controlling blood pressure can be difficult, often requiring medications and lifestyle changes. However, new interventions may soon be available to help patients better control their blood pressure at home, helping to improve their health and reduce trips to the doctor.

A recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine investigated the use of telephone-based interventions in helping patients control blood pressure levels at home. Researchers tested the use of three different interventions — nurse-administered behavioral management, medication management administered by nurses and physicians, and a combination of both. They found that among 593 patients receiving either the usual care or one of the three phone-based interventions, those receiving the phone-based interventions experienced moderately improved blood pressure management. However, those with particularly poor blood pressure management prior to the study experienced even greater benefits, reducing systolic blood pressure by nearly 15 mm Hg.

Based on study findings, phone-based interventions may be most effective in patients with poor blood pressure management. By combining behavioral management and medication management, patients can become motivated to improve their blood pressure through lifestyle changes, while physicians can adjust medications for optimal blood pressure management.

Register for the CardioSmart blood pressure management tool.

Questions for You to Consider

  • How often did patients receive telephone calls for study interventions?

  • Intervention telephone calls were triggered based on home blood pressure values transmitted to researchers through telemonitoring devices. When these machines recorded sub-optimal blood pressure levels, patients in the intervention group would receive a phone call to help address this issue.
  • How can patients improve blood pressure through lifestyle changes?
  • To help lower blood pressure, patients should follow a healthy, low-sodium and high-potassium diet, increase physical activity, maintain a healthy weight, avoid tobacco use, and better manage stress levels.

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