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Hypertension monitoring by phone effective: study

July 2, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Experts estimate nearly 1 in 3 Americans has hypertension, or high blood pressure. There are drugs and lifestyle changes that can help lower it- but the key is taking an active role. New research puts patients in control.

In the U.S., experts estimate almost half of people with high blood pressure don't have it under control.

Blood pressure is determined by the amount of blood your heart pumps, and the amount of resistance against your arteries. The more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries are, the higher your blood pressure will be.

Left untreated, hypertension can lead to heart attack and stroke. Now a new study shows that there are two things patients can do to get things under control.

Every two weeks, Pat Buchholz gets a call about her blood pressure. Hypertension runs in her family.

"I never smoked, I never drank and I exercised, so that helps some, but it did not prevent blood-pressure problems from finding me," said Buchholz.

Dr. Karen Margolis and her colleagues wanted to find out if doing two extra things could help patients keep their blood pressure in check.

They asked one group to monitor their blood pressure six times a week at home for a year. The results were then electronically transmitted to a pharmacist.

"The pharmacist then was able to review the readings and make adjustments over the telephone if needed," said Margolis.

The tele-monitoring patients also checked in with the pharmacist every two weeks. The other patients went to their doctors, receiving usual care.

The study results provided by the Journal of the American Medical Association show constant monitoring and checking in with a pharmacist was most effective.

"Compared with the usual care group, in the tele-monitoring group, more than twice as many patients were able to have their blood pressure under control at six and 12 months," said Margolis.

Buchholz credits her pharmacist and the work they did together with turning her health around.


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