Monday, March 11, 2013

Patients who used telehealth technology to monitor their hypertension experienced a significant drop in blood pressure, according to a new study published in the American Heart Journal, KPCC’s “OnCentral” reports (Martinez, “OnCentral,” KPCC, 3/8).

Study Details

The study was funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and conducted by researchers from the Temple University School of Medicine (Kaiser, MedPage Today, 3/8).

For the six-month study, 241 patients with high blood pressure were separated into two care groups.

Patients in the first group received standard care from their primary care provider. However, patients in this group generally had no communication with their provider other than an initial appointment and a six-month follow-up visit.

Patients in the second group were trained to monitor their blood pressure at home and report the results to their physician online or via phone twice weekly. After submitting their data, patients in the second group received information and guidance to help them manage their blood pressure (Landen, Modern Healthcare, 3/8).

Study Findings

The study found that nearly all patients were able to lower their systolic blood pressure, and many reached normal or prehypertensive levels (MedPage Today, 3/8).

However, non-diabetic patients using telehealth technology saw the biggest improvements, lowering their blood pressure by an average of 19 mmHg, the study found (Modern Healthcare, 3/8). In comparison, non-diabetic patients in the control group lowered their blood pressure by an average of 12 mmHg (MedPage Today, 3/8).

Comments on Findings

Alfred Bove — lead author of the study and past president of the American College of Cardiology — said that when patients with hypertension “are encouraged to measure their blood pressure, record their numbers into a database, track progress and get continuous clinical advice and feedback, they are better able to manage their blood pressure and, thereby, reduce their risk of serious health problems.”

Bove noted that most patients with diabetes already are accustomed to tracking their health, but non-diabetic patients with hypertension might be less familiar with the self-monitoring process. For such patients, Bove said, telehealth programs provide “a process for reminding them to measure their blood pressure and manage their blood pressure” (Modern Healthcare, 3/8).

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