The People's Perspective on Medicine

Self-Monitoring Helps Patients Lower Blood Pressure

Home blood pressure monitoring with web-based follow-up was more effective than usual treatment in helping people lower their high blood pressure. The 6-month study was conducted on nearly 350 patients whose initial blood pressure was at least 140/90 while taking three or fewer medications.

The people randomized to usual care were told their blood pressure was high, given written information on diet and exercise to lower blood pressure and advised to see their primary doctor, who monitored their blood pressure and their anti-hypertensive medications. Those randomized to home monitoring had to take their blood pressure three times a week and post it to a (now defunct) web-based tracking tool, Heart 360. This allowed participants to see their own progress.

Pharmacists monitored the postings and adjusted the dose of the medications if necessary. People who forgot to upload their readings got reminder calls. At six months, the average blood pressure among the home monitoring group was 128/79. Those seeing their doctors for usual care had an average reading of 137/83. Patients with diabetes or chronic kidney disease got the greatest benefit from the home monitoring program. Many more of them were able to meet their own blood pressure goals.

[Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, online, March 5, 2013]

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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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