The People's Perspective on Medicine

Home Monitoring Improves Blood Pressure

Home blood pressure monitoring with pharmacist follow-up can help people get hypertension under control. That’s the conclusion of a year-long study in 450 people with systolic blood pressure at or above 140 and diastolic pressure at or above 90.

Study subjects were randomly assigned to receive usual care or a home blood pressure monitor. Those who measured their blood pressure at home had the data transmitted electronically to a secure website. They were instructed to take their blood pressure at least 6 times a week.

Pharmacists monitored the measurements and talked with the patients every two weeks by telephone at first, and then every month as the study proceeded. This intervention was significantly better at lowering blood pressure than usual care. Nearly 3/4 of the patients monitoring their blood pressure at home were able to keep it under control six months after the study ended, compared to just about half of those provided usual care. The drop from baseline readings was also greater in the “telemonitoring” group. 

[JAMA, online, July 1, 2013]

This is not the first study to find that home blood pressure monitoring with pharmacist feedback and advice is helpful. We reported on a previous one in March, 2013. It is very likely that sympathetic feedback from a health professional such as a pharmacist or a nurse is beneficial, but it may also be possible for motivated individuals to do this on their own. If you would like to know more about controlling blood pressure, with or without medications, we offer our Guide to Blood Pressure Treatment.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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This is not too surprising. White coat syndrome, which causes elevated blood pressure and heart rate in a doctor’s office is a genuine condition. hundreds, if not thousands, of patients are taking blood pressure medication because their blood pressure is elevated during routine examinations. As soon as they leave the doctor’s office, their blood pressure and heart rate returns to normal. My wife has white coat syndrome. The normal wait in a doctor’s office is 45 minutes to an hour.
Since she is 85 years old and has had a stroke as a result of surgery, she is apprehensive for a few days before the office visit. During the wait, the tension builds. She walks to the office and with great difficulty, she climbs on the examination table. The first step is the blood pressure exam ” hmmm, the technician says,’pressure is a bit high'”. Then, the doctor comes in. “Lets take a look at that pressure”, More apprehension and finally, the verdict.. “We need to add to your blood pressure medication”.
Disregard that she is already taking two. Her blood pressure is taken at home every evening with a clinically accurate meter. The average is 115/65.I hate to have to fight with a doctor when he is on the road to prescribing medication that I know can harm my wife’s health. We have been together for 59 years. I do not intend to let a doctor or anyone else prescribe her down the same road that many of my friends have taken!.

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