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Nov 07, 2014

Home Monitoring Improves Blood Pressure Control

Enabling adults to check their own blood pressure at home may be the key to combating hypertension.

Enabling adults to check their own blood pressure at home may be the key to combating hypertension, according to a recent study published in the journal Circulation.

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, affects one in three American adults and drastically increases risk for life-threatening conditions, such as stroke and heart attack. In recent years, experts tested home blood pressure monitoring to help patients manage hypertension, but many questioned whether such interventions work in large, diverse populations. 

In search of answers, researchers enrolled more than 1,750 patients with hypertension in the “Check It, Change It” study conducted in North Carolina. Similar to studies conducted in the past, “Check It, Change It” offered a comprehensive program that enabled patients to check and monitor their own blood pressure with the support of medical professionals. But unlike other studies, “Check It, Change It” included a diverse group of participants that are more representative of the general U.S. population. 

During the study, patients recorded their blood pressure using the American Heart Association’s Heart360 web-based tool and researchers analyzed records to see if there were any significant improvements in blood pressure control. After just six months, the proportion of individuals achieving target blood pressure control increased from 51% to 63%. Overall blood pressure also declined a significant amount over the study period and the biggest improvements were seen in adults with the most poorly controlled hypertension. 

Based on these findings, authors believe that home monitoring may be the key to helping millions of Americans control their blood pressure. Rather than relying on medical professionals to monitor and address blood pressure, “Check It, Change It” enables patients to take control of their own health through training, education and support. Authors argue that their program serves as an important model to address both high blood pressure and chronic disease prevention, in general. By empowering patients to monitor and improve their own health at home, researchers believe that we can combat chronic disease more effectively than with traditional practices, alone.

Questions for You to Consider

  • What is hypertension?
  • Hypertension, often referred to as high blood pressure, occurs when the force of blood against the artery walls is too high. High blood pressure is often referred to as the “silent killer,” because it often causes no symptoms and if left uncontrolled, increases risk for heart attack and stroke.
  • Who is at risk for high blood pressure?
  • Risk for hypertension increases with age, and most adults will eventually be affected by this condition at some time in their lives. However, diabetes, obesity, stress, high sodium intake, tobacco use and excessive alcohol use can greatly increase risk for high blood pressure.

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