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May 09, 2018

Smartphone App Improves Blood Pressure Medication Adherence

The app in this study provided a medication reminder, blood pressure tracking and peer support.

A simple smartphone app could prove useful for the millions of Americans struggling with blood pressure management, based on a recent study that found a new app improved adherence to hypertensive medication.

Known as the MediSAFE-BP trial (Medication Adherence Improvement Support App For Engagement—Blood Pressure), this study tested a new app in patients with poorly controlled high blood pressure. The app provided reminder alerts, blood pressure tracking, and even connected users with other participants for peer support.

Findings were recently published in JAMA Internal Medicine and are promising for patients struggling with blood pressure control. High blood pressure currently affects one in three U.S. adults, yet only half have their blood pressure under control.

The trial included 411 participants, all of whom had high blood pressure despite taking at least one hypertensive medication. Half of participants were randomly assigned to the blood pressure app, while the other half received standard treatment.

After three months, researchers found that medication adherence improved significantly among adults using the app compared to controls. Medication adherence was measured using self-reported surveys that assessed whether medications were taken as prescribed.

The average age of participants was 52 and 60% were female.

Unfortunately, the differences in medication adherence did not have a significant impact on blood pressure at the end of the three-month study. However, experts remain encouraged by findings.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, high blood pressure affects an estimated 75 million adults. About 7 in 10 of adults with high blood pressure are taking medication, but most do not have their blood pressure under control.

Authors note that there are currently 160 health apps designed to remind patients to take their medications. These apps could prove useful for patients that struggle with medication adherence and blood pressure control.

It’s well established that blood pressure medication helps lower blood pressure and significantly reduces risk for life-threatening heart events. But these benefits can only be achieved when taking medication as prescribed, which apps may help with.

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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